HERLINGS AND FRANCE

When the riders line up for this weekend’s Monster Energy MXGP of France, at the St. Jean d’ Angely, one man will be desperate to get a victory. Five-time Motocross World Champion Jeffrey Herlings knows that series leader Jorge Prado has to be beaten, and no better place than in France.

“I still believe in the championship,” Herlings said. “I know it is very far away and I am not just battling one guy, I am battling three guys. If I didn’t have that DNF in Portugal, which was out of my hands, I would only be 25 points down and even now with 50 points with 14 more rounds, so 42 motos, a lot of racing still ahead but let’s wait and see. I didn’t lose much in Portugal, I didn’t lose much this weekend in Spain, but there comes a time, if I want to be competitive, I have to start winning. I can keep finding excuses and I am not making excuses; I just need to click it all together. Like yesterday (Saturday) I took a holeshot and still messed up, so. The bike is good, the team is good, it is my own hands now.”

While he was happy with a podium finish last week, to try and get his season rolling, you know that the Dutchman isn’t happy with top three finishes and wants to add to his 103 Grand Prix victories. His last Grand Prix win was nearly a year ago in Latvia, far too long ago for such a talented rider.

“I went to Lugo thinking I need a podium. A win, which is pretty high still, but a podium, I should be capable of that. It should be the same in France you know. If I didn’t get a podium in Spain, that was a very disappointing result here. A start crash or whatever, then that all changes, but I am ready for a podium now. The first two or three rounds, I wasn’t ready for a podium, my intensity wasn’t even close to doing that. I feel I am a podium guy, and I am not a winning guy yet, but podiums I should be making now all the time.”

What Herlings needs to improve is getting out of the gate, and into the first corner next to or in front of Prado, and he knows that is a difficult prospect. Prado is the holeshot master and his early lap speed is also impressive. Herlings believes, if he can start with Prado, he can beat him.

“I need to get my starts together, if I don’t start with Jorge, if I am not top three in the start, then he is gone, and I am not catching him. I don’t have the speed of him, maybe the same speed on a good day, but I don’t have the speed to catch him and pass him. In the second moto I came from P8 or P9 and I got second, but not enough to win. I need to start with him, then I can win again. Coming to St Jean, you can love it or hate it. I see the weather conditions don’t look too great for now, so it can go either way, be great or a lottery like in Portugal. We will see, I hope it is a good GP again.”

So, a year of waiting for a Grand Prix victory isn’t something new to Herlings, having missed the complete 2022 season due to injury, he arrives in France with high pressure and more importantly, a mission of either getting a holeshot, or at least, making those early laps difficult for the defending MXGP World champion. We all await his response.

Photo Credit : Ray Archer

Author: 
Geoff Meyer

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