MX2 double world champion Jeffrey Herlings had been talking about his trip to contest round 10 of the Lucas Oils AMA Pro National Motocross Championship at Unadilla next month.
The 19-year-old motocross star needed just five points more than Red Bull KTM team-mate Jordi Tixier this weekend at Loket (Grand Prix of Czech Republic) to confirm his third MX2 title in a row but the Dutchman also had one eye set on a positive showing against the Americans in the toughest national series in the world.
“I can feel the pressure building already,” Herlings said when asked about his highly anticipated trip.
“There are quite a few of the team going across and I know some Dutch fans are flying out as well. I think a lot of people in Europe will be hoping I win while a lot in America will be hoping I fail. It seems there are quite a few people talking about it and websites are running polls on how I will get on. Sometimes it feels like the whole motocross industry is looking at it.
“I have to go there to try and enjoy it because I only have one race to try and win,” he added. “For sure the Americans know who I am and I have already raced guys like Blake Baggett. I have never competed at an AMA National. I know it will be difficult and different but I have to do my best.”
But an accident just 20 days before his debut US Outdoors race blew Herlings’ American dream apart.
While racing in the 85cc kids versus champs at Everts and Friends Charity Race, Herlings had a nasty off while attempting to hunt down Roan van de Moosdijk in the first moto.
It was confirmed later that day (Monday, July 21) that Herlings fractured his femur and had already undergone a successful operation. At this point KTM have not commented on when they expect Herlings to be back on a bike or if they have closed the book on his 2014 season.
Looking at the seriousness of his injuries it’s clear that Herlings will not make it to Unadilla, which takes place on August 9.
Let’s imagine for a moment that Herlings had made it to Unadilla, what would his team need to do to give him the best possible chance of taking it to the Americans? Let’s take a look…
The factory KTM team were working to ensure that the racer who is unbeaten this year would have all the tools to do the job.
At least four technical staff were due to fly to New York and with minimal baggage as #84 would have used one of the AMA 250MX machines kept for Dean Ferris and Marvin Musquin from the American wing of the works set-up.
Technical Co-ordinator Dirk Gruebel told us that they would have only taken Jeffrey’s brakes, seat cover and footpegs, which are a different configuration and brand in the USA and the suspension would be set-up when they were out there.
Gruebel would have also had the production AMA regulations to work to for the tuning of the 250SX-F. “The engine will not be that different. OK, the Americans use another type of fuel and higher level of engine noise but the variation is only about 0.5 in terms of horsepower. We can achieve the same with a shorter silence and other variations to the set-up here,” Gruebel said.