News 6 Apr 2017

Red Bull KTM rookie Herlings at loss for MXGP form

Multiple MX2 world champion unable to make an impact to date.

Source: Supplied.

Words: Adam Wheeler

Red Bull KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings is growing impatient to make an impact in his first season in the premier class of the FIM Motocross World Championship.

The Dutchman was 12th overall at the grand prix of Mexico last weekend with a best moto finish of ninth-place and is still striving to reach the top five, let alone a podium finish or a victory; which were familiar classifications and emotions in six years of MX2 excellence.

The 20-year old admitted he has recovered from the broken right hand sustained just over a week before flying to Qatar for the opening round of the ’17 term but naturally still needs to rediscover speed, form and confidence post-injury to be able to trouble the top runners on the 450s.

Herlings has already spoken on the need for full fitness and pace to be able to dispute track space with the likes of [Tim] Gajser, [Antonio] Cairoli and [Clement] Desalle but is clearly not anywhere near the level he requires after just four MXGP appearances.

“We are pain-free but I don’t know what happened,” he commented of the motos in Leon and at a circuit that has not been particularly kind to #84 with memories of his narrow 2014 title loss. “It is not looking great, but I have a strong team behind me and a good bike so it is just in my hands. I feel it [the old injury] a bit but it is not an excuse. I feel it on the big jumps but it is not painful. Hopefully it gets better and better, we have to look at ourselves.”

Herlings may have come into 2017 as a rookie but he was well aware that former MX2 rivals Romain Febvre and Tim Gajser had made their 450cc debuts so emphatically. The former three times world champion has had to realign his goals. “For now the championship is really far away and kinda impossible; we are almost 100 points away,” he said of the gap that lies at 97 points to Gajser at the top of the standings. “From now on we go for the best finishes possible and hopefully later in the season some race wins.”

Jeffrey might not want to raise hopes but after round five of MXGP at Arco di Trento in Italy on Easter weekend the series will head straight to the sand of Valkenswaard in Holland where he has not been beaten since his very first year in grand prix in 2010 and as a 15-year-old.