Looking back at the highly-anticipated battle of 2016.
With the 2017 MXGP of USA just days away where Jeffrey Herlings (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Cooper Webb (Monster Energy/Yamalube/Chaparral/Yamaha Financial Services/Yamaha Racing) will face off once again, MotoOnline.com.au is taking a look back the duo’s battle for the top MX2 spot at Charlotte’s MXGP of Americas in 2016.
There’s no questioning that Herlings’ was and is one of Europes greatest prospects, while the same could be said about Webb in America, resulting in a highly-anticipated battle at the unique man-made circuit for the penultimate round of the world championship.
For Herlings, a third world championship was on the line, which he eventually claimed, although for Webb it was simply a matter of racing a new crop of riders in front of a home crowd.
In race one, it was Webb who pulled a stronger start of the pair, slipping in behind initial leader Austin Forkner (Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki) as Herlings negotiated his way into second.
At roughly the halfway mark, Forkner would drop his Kawasaki in a rut, which Webb had also entered, slowing the Yamama-mounted rider up has Herling railed an outside berm, pulling right up behind Webb on the exit.
This started the dual for the lead, but it didn’t last long as the Dutchman claimed the top spot. Webb was unable to match the pace of Herlings, finishing the challenging race a touch over four seconds behind the multi-time world champion.
Race two would see the quarter-litre category attack the Charlotte circuit under lights, and it was Herlings who made quick work of the leaders to position himself up front, as Webb exited turn one in 19th, quickly working his way into the top 10.
The then newly-crowned American champ put in a ride of his life, picking off riders one by one to catch Herlings. They briefly battled, but it was evident this time around that Webb had the superior pace, claiming not only the race win, but also the overall.
In a true display of sportsmanship, Herlings admitted Webb was the faster rider in the second outing, however he believes the pair would need endure a championship together to silence the US vs Europe debate.
“I am just going to be honest,” said Herlings. “Cooper was faster than me in the second moto, I didn’t have anything for him. I know people are going to be saying he’s faster, or I’m faster, but we both went 1 – 2, you can’t tell who’s faster from that, it is just one race, you need a whole championship to decide that, with different tracks, different days and different conditions.”
This weekend’s 17th round of the MXGP World Championship is slated to be hosted by WW Motocross Park in Florida, which will see a selection of Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross regulars enter in special one-off appearances.