Former double world champion Jeffrey Herlings has tipped Red Bull KTM team-mate and rookie factory rider Pauls Jonass as the ‘one to watch’ in the 2015 campaign.
The Latvian has stepped into Jordi Tixier’s place for the upcoming MX2 term – his second Grand Prix campaign – and has just turned 18 years old.
Due to injury and recuperation Herlings has not spent too much time with his new stable-mate but like many was impressed to learn that Jonass – the 2013 EMX125 Champion and FIM World Champion – had won his very first race on the works 250SX-F at the Italian Championship in Sardinia last weekend and obviously knows the teenager’s talent thanks to his progress through KTM’s racing programme.
“I think the same names will be the ones going for the championship but one surprise will be my team-mate Pauls,” the Dutchman said this week. “I think he surprised a few people last weekend in Italy. He wasn’t racing against [Jordi] Tixier or [Dylan] Ferrandis but he still beat [Tim] Gajser and [Alex] Tonkov.”
See also: Herlings – I won’t be 100 per cent at Qatar
Jonass completed his Grand Prix apprenticeship in the wings of the Marchetti team in 2014 and had a strong end to the season, taking a fifth place at Lommel for the Belgian Grand Prix. He also represented his country at Kegums for the Motocross of Nations. “He didn’t get any podiums or not many top 10s last season but I think he has made huge steps,” assessed Herlings. “He will also be on a great bike.”
Herlings will not join Jonass in any pre-season races before the FIM Motocross World Championship launches in Qatar at the end of the month as he battles for fitness after recovery from further surgery on the left femur he broke last summer.