Even a casual fan of the FIM Motocross World Championship expects Jeffrey Herlings to dominate every single Grand Prix nowadays. It is something that those across the globe have had to grow accustomed to. The Turkish round this past weekend, held at the all-new circuit of Afyon, was no different and Herlings thankfully made time for MX Vice editor Lewis Phillips immediately after yet another triumph.
MX Vice: Another week, another win and another step closer to that McDonald’s! You are looking good!
Jeffrey Herlings: The Burger King included! No, just kidding. It was a good weekend, after all. I think I got some food poisoning when I got here. Obviously, the water and stuff with the food is different. Maybe there was something with the water or something that I got sick [from]? I do not know. At least it was food poisoning all weekend long. I had stomach cramps and obviously Saturday in the qualifying heat I was really struggling with it. Then I had some pills for the night to get through the night. But again, second moto and between motos I felt really sick and had to throw up and stuff like that. I am really pleased to still come out with a qualifying heat win and winning both motos, but most importantly increasing the points lead by so many points.
Would you say that you felt worse today than you did yesterday then? How would you compare the two days?
Actually, in the first moto I was feeling better but then obviously it was pretty hot outside. It was like between thirty and thirty-five degrees. It still takes a toll. I was leading and making it comfortable by taking a good start and whatever, but still it took some energy. Between motos I could not eat because I had so many stomach cramps, but maybe it is good. I will lose some extra weight!
If there is one good thing that comes from situations like today it is just that extra little bit of confidence and knowing that even when things are not going right or whatever, you can still come out on top and put fifty points on the table. Life is good.
Yeah, definitely, especially on a track like this. It is a track I really enjoyed, but it is not my specialty. When we go to Assen, for example, or Lommel I am supposed to be a bit better than on a track like this. But to come out and be sick and still manage to win both motos… The first moto was pretty dominant, second moto I could hardly hold on. The only thing I was looking for was a victory at that time. I felt really bad in the second one and to still come out with a 1-1 and extend the championship lead by so many points, it was pretty amazing.
We joked about this last week, but there was obviously the sign at Sevlievo that said it was the best track in the world. I looked over today and there is another one here! What is going on with the tracks? A bit cocky [laughs].
Yeah, obviously. Apparently, the world is… We have got some more planets or something, because we have multiple best tracks in the world. I like the Bulgarian track. I really like this track. It is really nice.
It looked like there was something happening on the start before moto one, like they were changing something on your bike. What was up there?
When we tried to put in the start hook, I think the start hook broke. There is so much load on, because with the starting you have to obviously put the suspension in really deep. I think also with the heat outside the plastic broke or something. I am not one hundred percent sure, so do not want to let myself out of it too much. I am not one hundred percent sure, but I think that was the problem.
I saw a common message on your pit board this weekend was about maintaining one hundred percent focus. It got me wondering: You do so many laps out front with no one around, so does your mind wander a little bit? What do you think about in those situations?
No, it is like practicing. Once you are in front, leading, with no one in front or in the back of you… You can basically just do it like a practice session, once you are out on the track alone. You just click off lap after lap after lap until it is finished.
I do not know if you saw, but Wayne put on the board that Cairoli was nineteenth at the start of the second moto. When you saw that did you think, “Sh*t, it might happen now? Am I going to become a champion?”
I was like, “Yeah, let’s have kebab tonight!” No, I knew there were only twenty-two riders I think this weekend, so for him to get up to fifteenth or something was not going to be too difficult. I knew it was normally not realistic or that he had to DNF. We are close for Assen now. We can just mess it up I would say by getting injured or doing something stupid. I really hope to just win the championship in Assen. It would be a dream coming true.
Obviously Assen is two weeks away, so that is a lot of time. Are you going to ride just as much or train just as much? Maybe try and take some time out? It’s going to be a hectic weekend.
No, I am definitely going to ride and definitely going to train. I feel like off the bike I can do like I always do, because the risk… If I stand on the home trainer, if something… I do not know an airplane flying through my home for me to crash off that. But riding a dirt bike, it is a different story. Normally we would ride six or seven times between this GP and Assen if it was a different scenario. Maybe now we just go out on the bike four or five times. We have to plan with the team and maybe they even say, “Hey, boy, you are not going to go ride because we do not allow you to.” No, normally they will not say that. Just try to avoid some risks.
Another funny thing that I heard. I do not know if you heard in the press conference yesterday, the Turkish guy said he was the champion of the champions. Do you feel like you have made a statement today? Have you shown them what’s up?
Yeah. GP championship does not matter too much when you are the champion of the champions here in Turkey, then that is the next big deal! I am just kidding. It was a funny comment from him.
Interview: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer