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Room 101: Everts & Herlings – The Big Numbers

So it has been done – Jeffrey Herlings has matched the legend Stefan Everts for Grand Prix wins across all classes. The debate will rage on, and never be resolved, as to who is the greatest of all-time amongst either these two riders, a recently-retired Italian, legends from back in the day, or of course those from the USA.  What cannot be disputed is that 101 Grand Prix wins is a massive total to reach, and nobody has won more in the 66-year history of World Championship Motocross.  So MX Vice takes you through the numbers, broken down in any way we could, to help you with those little internet battles and trackside beer-tent banter.

Words: Ben Rumbold | Featured Image: Eric Sandra

Straight away, with the numbers correct as of the day Jeffrey clinched win #101 at the MXGP of Portugal, 30th April 2023, it’s obvious that Jeffrey did get there faster. 5 years faster if you count the fact that 2022 was a complete write-off for him, and if you’re thinking “OK but they race more now”, well he also got the 101st win a full 58 GPs faster than Stefan, taking into account all the races that each man actually lined up for. That in itself is a challenge to count, because Jeffrey has missed a lot through injury – a massive 64 in total, nearly four season’s worth!  That truly accounts for the fact that Jeffrey has half as many world titles as Stefan, who only missed 38 across an 18-year period, 27 of which came in that bleak spell of 1999 & 2000, with massive injuries from pre-season being exacerbated by the issues of joining the Husqvarna team amongst many behind-the-scenes problems with his management at the time.

Here’s the side-by-side breakdown of their careers year-by-year

Seasons1813 (2022 missed through injury)
Win %age44.6960.12
Win %age40.7657.23
Year 11989: 125cc, 15th, 7 GPs, 0 Wins (14 Motos)2010: MX2, 6th, 12 GPs, 2W (24M, 4W)
Year 21990:125cc, 3rd, 9 GPs, 0 Wins (18 Motos)2011: MX2, 2nd, 15 GPs, 5W (30M, 6W)
Year 31991: 125cc, 1st, 12 GPs, 5 Wins (24M, 10W)2012: MX2, 1st, 16 GPs, 9W (32M, 18W)
Year 41992: 250cc, 11th, 7 GPs, 1 Win (20M, 4W)2013: MX2, 1st, 15 GPs, 15W (30M, 28W)
Year 51993: 250cc, 2nd, 14 GPs, 3 Wins (41M, 10W)2014: MX2, 2nd, 13 GPs, 12W (26M, 22W)
Year 61994: 250cc, 2nd, 15 GPs, 5 Wins (30M, 10W)2015: MX2, 7th, 11GPs, 4W (21M, 14W)
Year 71995: 250cc, 1st, 15 GPs, 5 Wins (30M, 8W)2016: MX2, 1st, 15 GPs, 14W (30M, 27W)
Year 8*1996: 250cc, 1st, 13 GPs, 5 Wins (26M, 12W)2017: MXGP, 2nd, 19 GPs, 6W (37M, 12W)
Year 91997: 250cc, 1st, 15 GPs, 9 Wins (30M, 16W)2018: MXGP, 1st, 19 GPs, 17W (38M, 33W)
Year 10**1998: 250cc, 2nd, 16 GPs, 8 Wins (32M, 14W)2019: MXGP, 19th, 5 GPs, 2W (9M, 4W)
Year 11:1999: 250cc, 11th, 4 GPs, 1 Win (8M, 2W)2020: MXGP, 12th, 6 GPs, 4W (12M, 5W)
Year 122000: 500cc, DNS, 1 GP, 0 Wins (1M, 0W)2021: MXGP, 1st, 17 GPs, 9W (33M, 15W)
Year 132001: 500cc, 1st, 14 GPs, 7 Wins (14M, 7W)2023: MXGP, 2nd, 5 GPs, 2W (10M, 2W)
Year 142002: 500cc, 1st, 12 GPs, 4 Wins (12M, 4W)N/A
Year 15***2003: MXGP & 125: 1st & 2nd, 22 GPs, 18 WinsN/A
Year 162004: MX1, 16 GPs, 7 Wins (32M, 13W)N/A
Year 172005: MX1, 17 GPs, 8 Wins (34M, 14W)N/A
Year 182006: MX1, 15 GPs, 14 Wins (30M, 27W)N/A
  • * Including a wild-card at the Belgian 125cc GP at Nismes, 1996 – credited with a moto win after both Sebastien Tortelli & Paul Malin were excluded for fuel irregularities.
  • ** Including a wild-card at the Belgian 500cc GP at Namur, 1998 – winning both motos and stopping for an iced tea in his only Grand Prix on a 500cc two-stroke.
  • *** In 2003 he won 9 out of 12 MXGP races, 8 out of 9 125cc GP races entered, and of course the 650cc GP at Ernee when he won all three classes in one day – all in a single-moto format.

Stefan Everts won his first Grand Prix on the 125cc Suzuki at Kaposvar in Hungary. Image: Jack Burnicle

What is clear from the numbers is how diverse Stefan had to be through his career – two-stroke, four-stroke, racing one-, two-, and three-moto formats, and racing for all four Japanese manufacturers in his time. He also dealt with the seasons lengthening from 12 GPs per year at the start of his career (the 1990 season was shortened to 9!) to the high teens at the end. By the time Jeffrey started at GP level, there were 15 GPs at the very least. And again, you can see how short some of his seasons were due to injury.  Here is how many he missed year-by-year:

  • 2010 – 3 GPs
  • 2013 – 2 GPs – still Champion
  • 2014 – 4 GPs – nearly Champ again!
  • 2015 – 7 GPs
  • 2016 – 3 GPs – still Champion
  • 2018 – 1 GP – still Champion, for the first time on a 450
  • 2019 – 13 GPs
  • 2020 – 12 GPs
  • 2021 – 1 GP – still Champion again!
  • 2022 – 18 GPs – the entire season gone , depriving us of the sight of JH running the #1 plate

That leaves only 2011, ’12, and his first MXGP season of 2017 that Jeffrey has been at the line for every round. Even then he was recovering from a small injury at the start of the year, a slow start that possibly even cost him that title. He laid claim to the title “Fastest man on the planet” with a stunning win at the Ironman AMA National that year, with a last-to-first in the second moto. Admittedly, Eli Tomac was wrapping up his first 450 crown, and then Max Anstie held off Herlings on home turf at the Matterley MX of Nations.

Jeffrey flies at the 2016 Motocross of Nations at Maggiora. He has won more Grands Prix in Italy than in any other country. Image: KTM

So what about the competition?  One measure of any Champion is who they have defeated, right?  Let’s look through those names, Champions in the years our joint record holders weren’t, or who was 2nd when they were.

1989: Trampas Parker Champ, SE 15th2010: Marvin Musquin Champ, JH 6th
1990: Donny Schmit Champ, SE 3rd2011: Ken Roczen Champ, JH 2nd
1991: Bob Moore 2nd2012: Tommy Searle 2nd
1992: Donny Schmit Champ, SE 11th2013: Jordi Tixier 2nd
1993: Greg Albertyn Champ, SE 2nd2014: Jordi Tixier Champ, JH 2nd
1994: Greg Albertyn Champ, SE 2nd2015: Tim Gajser Champ, JH 7th
1995: Marnicq Bervoets 2nd2016: Jeremy Seewer 2nd
1996: Marnicq Bervoets 2nd2017: Antonio Cairoli Champ, JH 2nd
1997: Marnicq Bervoets 2nd2018: Antonio Cairoli 2nd
1998: Sebastien Tortelli Champ, SE 2nd2019: Tim Gajser Champ, JH 19th
1999: Frederic Bolley Champ, SE 11th2020: Tim Gajser Champ, JH 12th
2000: Joel Smets Champ, SE No Score2021: Romain Febvre 2nd
2001: Joel Smets 2nd2022: Tim Gajser Champ, JH No Score
2002: Joel Smets 2nd2023: Jorge Prado leads, JH 2nd after 5 rounds
2003: Joel Smets 2nd MXGP, Steve Ramon 125 Champ
2004: Mickael Pichon 2nd
2005: Josh Coppins 2nd
2006: Kevin Strijbos 2nd

Everts (#2) chases early rivals Greg Albertyn (#1) and Donny Schmit (#3) at the opening GP of 1994 in Spain. Image: Jack Burnicle

So both men have deprived great riders of becoming a World Champion, such as Bervoets, Coppins, Kevin Strijbos, Searle, and Seewer.  They have also battled incredible multi-title-winning opposition such as Parker, Schmit, Albertyn, Tortelli, Bolley, Smets and Pichon for Everts, and Musquin, Roczen, Cairoli, Gajser, and Prado for Herlings. Tixier and Febvre would surely have taken a second title without Jeffrey’s intervention as well. Neither man has had it easy and both could have won even more.

So what about the mix of classes? Well much has been made amongst Jeffrey’s haters that he got most of his in the MX2 class. That is true, but as you can see above, he was hardly racing against a bunch of mugs. Stefan fans can point out that the 250cc class was the hottest of the time in the 1990s, and although he suffered painful defeats to Greg Albertyn and Sebastien Tortelli, he was the undoubted star of the class for much of the decade. Jeffrey has just surpassed Stefan for wins in the actual MXGP/MX1 class, some way short of Antonio Cairoli’s total of 68.  If you add the 250cc wins for Stefan to his MXGP total, then you’ve got a total of 75 “Premier Class” wins towards the argument that Everts still comes out on top there.

125cc – 38 GPs, 13 Wins. 67 Motos, 19 WinsMX2 – 97 GPs, 61 Wins. 193 Motos, 119 Wins
250cc – 99 GPs, 37 Wins. 217 Motos, 76 WinsMXGP – 71 GPs, 40 Wins. 139 Motos, 71 Wins
500cc – 29 GPs, 13 Wins. 30 Motos, 14 Wins
MXGP/MX1 – 60 GPs, 38W. 108 Motos, 63 Wins

So did Stefan just win loads because a lot of them were single-moto GPs? Not really, as you can see below he coped well in any format thrown up, and that time was also when Joel Smets was at his very best, and actually won more than Everts in 2002. It did help his tally that he could ride two, and even three, GPs in one day, as he did through 2003, when he won a massive 18 GPs from 22 entered across all three capacities. That was across just 12 weekends however, and he had less GPs per year than Jeffrey did, that is when the Dutchman was healthy enough to race them all.  Here you can see the format changes throughout Stefan’s career and how well he did. It’s pretty safe to say that it never made much difference, he was always a contender for the win.

2-Moto – 28 GPs, 5 Wins. 56 Motos, 10 WinsAll 2 Motos
3-Moto – 21 GPs, 4 Wins. 61 Motos, 14 Wins
2-Moto – 81 GPs, 34 Wins. 161 Motos, 65 Wins
1-Moto – 48 GPs, 29 Wins.
2-Moto – 48 GPs, 29 Wins. 96 Motos, 54 Wins
Total 2-Moto – 157 GPs, 68W, 313M, 129W

Stefan accomplished something unique by winning three GPs in one day at Ernee 2003. Image: Yamaha Europe

Another major difference is the changes in machinery that Stefan went through. The first and still only rider to win on four different brands, the four Japanese manufacturers to be precise, before amazingly help to bring about their regular defeat at the hands of KTM as he moved into orange civvies as their Team Manager, which included handling the arrival of Jeffrey into the team where he has stayed to this day.  Here is how Stefan’s wins broke down for the different bikes he raced at GP level:

Suzuki: 49 GPs, 9W. 117 Motos, 24WKTM: Whole career
Kawasaki 30 GPs, 10W. 60 Motos, 18W
Honda 50 GPs, 24W. 100 Motos, 47W
Husqvarna 1 GP, 0W. 1 Moto, 0W
Yamaha 96 GPs, 58 Wins. 144 Motos, 83 Wins

Both riders have won GPs in 24 different countries, on 44 different circuits for Jeffrey, 47 for Stefan. Everts was fortunate enough to win on every single continent, as back in his day the GP circus went to North & South America (that 4th flag is Guatemala, folks!), Japan, Australia, and even South Africa! And you thought flyaway GPs were a new thing…

:flag-hu: :flag-ch: :flag-be: :flag-gt: :flag-br: :flag-nl: :flag-ie: :us: :flag-fi: :it: :flag-at: :flag-se: :gb: :jp: :es: :fr: :flag-pt: :flag-cz: :flag-ve: :flag-pl: :de: :flag-au: :flag-bg: :flag-za: (Stefan)

:flag-nl: :flag-lv: :flag-br: :flag-pt: :flag-be: :it: :flag-mx: :fr: :ru: :flag-cz: :flag-qa: :flag-th: :flag-bg: :flag-se: :flag-fi: :de: :es: :gb: :flag-ar: :us: :flag-ch::flag-id: :flag-tr: :cn: (Jeffrey)

Top Countries:
:flag-be: Belgium 17:it: Italy 18
:fr: France 10:flag-nl: The Netherlands 14
:flag-nl: The Netherlands 9:fr: France 8
:de: Germany 7:flag-lv: Latvia 6
:it: Italy 7:flag-pt: Portugal 5
Top Circuits:
:flag-be: Namur 7:flag-nl: Valkenswaard 9
:flag-se: Uddevalla 6:flag-lv: Kegums 6
:flag-nl: Valkenswaard 5:flag-pt: Agueda 5
:it: Montevarchi 4:it: Arco di Trento 5
:flag-pt: Agueda 4:flag-qa: Losail 4
:flag-cz: Loket 4:fr: St Jean d’Angely 4
:de: Gaildorf 4:gb: Matterley Basin 4
:flag-nl: Lierop 4

The Bullet in the soft stuff – a master at work. Image: Ray Archer

You can clearly see the variety of circuits that both riders excelled at. Both are known for their sand prowess, but the fact that Montevarchi, Loket, Gaildorf, Arco, St Jean, and Matterley are all in there vouches for their abilities on hard-pack.  British fans might be surprised to not see Foxhill in there, as Stefan won there 3 times, denied that fourth win by Sebastien Tortelli in 1998.

Finally, and this is one for the Herlings fans, there is the sheer speed with which Jeffrey has racked up the wins.  Here you can see that he has reached every milestone faster than Stefan did in his time, and it wasn’t just due to number of races per season. Would Stefan have won more with up to 20 GPs per season? Maybe in the mid-90s, but then he also had that 2003 season to make up for it.  Fans will never truly agree on who is the greatest, and it doesn’t really matter. They are the two most successful riders in history in terms of Grand Prix wins, so they have both recorded absolutely incredible careers. We are all just lucky to have been able to watch them at work.

1st Win20th GP, 3rd Year (1991), 125cc Suzuki3rd GP, 1st Year (2010), MX2
10th Win51st GP, 6th Year (1994), 250cc Kawasaki31st GP, 3rd Year (2012), MX2
20th Win80th GP, 8th Year (1996), 250cc Honda45th GP, 4th Year (2013), MX2
30th Win103rd GP, 9th Year (1997), 250cc Honda55th GP, 4th Year (2013), MX2
40th Win120th GP, 10th Year (1998), 250cc Honda65th GP, 5th Year (2014), MX2
50th Win139th GP, 13th Year (2001), 500cc Yamaha83rd GP, 7th Year (2016), MX2
60th Win166th GP, 15th Year (2003), 250F Yamaha95th GP, 7th Year (2016), MX2
70th Win176th GP, 15th Year (2003), 250F Yamaha120th GP, 9th Year (2018), MXGP
80th Win195th GP, 17th Year (2005), MX1 Yamaha131st GP, 9th Year (2018), MXGP
90th Win214th GP, 18th Year (2006), MX1 Yamaha146th GP, 11th Year (2020), MXGP
101st Win226th GP, 18th Year (2006), MX1 Yamaha168th GP, 13th Year (2023), MXGP
100th Moto152nd GP, Uddevalla 2002, 500cc Yamaha86th GP, Neuquen 2016, MX2

So that completes your guide to the fascinating careers of the two riders who, at the time of writing, sit level at the top of the all-time wins chart in Motocross Grand Prix history. How soon will Jeffrey go one better to stand alone with the record? It could be just days away…