HERLINGS – SLOWLY BUILDING

Two-time World Motocross Champion John Van Den Berk is a legend in Dutch motocross. His 1987 and 1988 125cc and 250cc championships made sure of that. Still heavily involved in the sport Van Den Berk also trains riders in the winter in Spain, something he has done now for 20 years. 

The last handful of years, five-time World motocross champion and good friend of Van Den Berk, Jeffrey Herlings has joined the Van Den Berk training program, riding often alone on a track and not full of other riders, making it safe and easier for “The Bullet” to get his training and preparation done. For Van Den Berk, there is still something special about his countryman, despite all the injuries and bad luck. The motivation for success is very much there.

I have a good relationship with Jeffrey running now for many years,” Van Den Berk said. “We didn’t live that far apart when I lived in Holland, and he made his first trip to my training in Spain when he was like 12 years old. Sixteen or seventeen years ago. The last couple of years he spends a lot of time here, because he likes the set-up, the tracks we ride.”

While Herlings had a handful of operations at the end of the 2023 season, to fix problems with previous injuries, he is slowly coming back to speed and will be more than ready when the gates drops in Argentina in a few weeks’ time. For Van Den Berk, not a lot has changed with the motivation and desire to be World Champion again.

“He looks good,” Van Den Berk said. “He did basic training here, because he hadn’t ridden for four months, because he did some operations at the end of 2023. Jeffrey is a rider, who needs to ride a lot, to be in shape. He did a lot of heats, like small races, like 45 of those in total in four weeks. For another rider, this is impossible, but for Jeffrey, he can do it. He was getting better and better. He has no injuries at the moment, also no pain. He is also comfortable on the bike; he really likes the bike and everything around him is comfortable. He knows what to do and the plan is going as he expected.”

Now, with just two pre-season races on his schedule before the opening round of the MXGP championship, in Argentina, the Red Bull KTM Factory rider will no doubt come in slow for the first few rounds and build on that. It is hard to see Herlings winning in that first round, but you just know, like a diesel, he will get into full gear after a handful of rounds and then make his attack on the championship points leader.

Having won 103 Grand Prix’s in his 14-year career, you can be sure, he will be looking for many victories in 2024 and make that GP win record untouchable for any rider of this current generation. Despite Herlings now being 29 years of age, the final two or three years of his illustrious career will still be something exciting to watch. You can count on it.

Photo Credit: Ray Archer

Author: 
Geoff Meyer

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