Former double MX2 World Champion Jeffrey Herlings has offered his opinion on 2015 title winner Tim Gajser’s surprise move to MXGP for 2016 and hints that the Slovenian could be anticipating a season with less pressure as a premier class rookie than as defending MX2 number one.
Herlings himself has committed to another year in MX2 and will not face three of the riders that challenged his authority in 2015 with Gasjer’s decision for MXGP and both Valentin Guillod and Jordi Tixier forced off the 250s due to their age. Gajser won his first Grand Prix this year by beating the Dutchman at Arco di Trento for the Grand Prix of Trentino with Herlings – now 21 years old – still searching for full fitness and form after complications with a broken femur in the winter of 2014. The HRC rider will run full CRF450RW factory machines from the Gariboldi team for ’16.
“We’re both in a different situation,” Herlings says. “Maybe it is hard what I am about to say but the Honda 250 is a lesser bike than the 450. If he moves up and finishes fifth or sixth or whatever then that will be fine. If he is a reigning world champion and gets beat the season after [in MX2] then that’s a pity. I think the KTM is a better bike currently. Normally if I didn’t get injured then I would have won the championship with a big amount of points. It is hard to be in his position…but maybe it is also a good thing to step up to MXGP and have less pressure than in MX2.”
Herlings also believes his sad experiences of watching massive points leads in 2014 and 2015 being chipped away by his rivals while absent from Grand Prix due to injury has matured his approach to a championship strategy. “I knew four months ago what I do now then the season would have finished very differently!” he claims. “To become a champion – whether in MX2 or MXGP – you seem to just need an average finish of top five every round. Febvre was sixth or seventh in the standings after a couple of rounds and the same with Gajser. Halfway during the season he was 200 points down on me…and still managed to win the championship! Every year is different…but I have many regrets. I ruined the championship two years in a row through injury and being stupid. Thinking too much about winning when maybe I was not capable. But I’ve learnt from it and now I want to be 100% healthy and 100% before I get back on the bike.”
’84’ published news on his 2016 direction via his official Facebook page earlier this week.