MX2 FIM World Championship leader Jeffrey Herlings is fired up to make a strong comeback to Grand Prix action at his home round this weekend at Assen for round 16 of 18.
“I’m feeling really good,” the 21-year-old enthused and after recovering sufficiently from the cracked right collarbone that forced him to miss events in the Czech Republic, Belgium and Switzerland. “After one session on the bike I felt like the old Jeffrey; no pain and the speed was there. Even after the first time on the bike – OK, it was only practice – I could feel my pace was good and my fitness had not suffered.”
“I have a 43 point lead over Seewer in the standings so I want to come back in Assen and try to get this thing done as soon as possible.”
The winner of 12 consecutive Grands Prix this year and perma-holder of the red plate as series leader re-injured the collarbone he broke last season in Germany and insists he could have returned to duty quickly in 2016, but after the injury nightmares of 2015 and 2014 decided to exercise caution.
“I could have been riding earlier,” he claims. “It was only nine days after breaking the bone in Germany last year that I was back on the line in Sweden. I had the operation this time and with the plate I was told the bone was even stronger than it had been before. For sure it was tough to watch races like Lommel [GP of Belgium] happening but it was also important to take our time and make sure everything was 100 per cent.”
The Grand Prix of the Netherlands will take place at the road racing mecca of Assen for the second year in a row and should see an expanded layout after observations from the paddock focussed on the narrow track trajectory last summer for what was the inaugural event. Herlings did not contest the meeting due to a dislocated hip but was a curious spectator. “It is strange because they build that track in just a couple of days and it is a meeting of different worlds,” he says. “From what I saw it was tight and kinda one line. There was not much space and they need so much sand. I hope they make it wider…and the weather will stay good.”
Herlings will hope for a third MX2 World Championship in what is his final attempt at the class this year. It was announced this week that #84 is included in the Motocross of Nations Dutch team for the first time since 2012 and is slated to represent KTM at the new SMX Cup at the Veltins Arena in Germany on October 8. “KTM asked me and I’d missed a couple of GPs so I didn’t want to say no!” he jokes. “It looks quite supercrossy but there aren’t any whoops…just a lot of jumps. I won’t be taking any risks and it is more of a team event than an individual thing from what I understand. The most important thing right now is to make sure of this championship.”