Jeffrey Herlings has committed to another year of racing in the MX2 category for 2015 but will soon need to start thinking about 2016 as the Dutchman’s next contract is likely to be one of the most lucrative seen in the FIM Motocross World Championship in the modern era.
Herlings is viewed by many as the natural successor to Tony Cairoli for premier class titles and if he moves into MXGP for 2016 – at the ripe age of 21 – then he can count on a number of suitors for his services and for a contract that will look to tie #84 to a brand for as long as possible.
Almost every factory team will want Herlings on their technology but in truth only several will be able to afford the double world champion who is currently injured and being pressurised for a third crown by Red Bull KTM team-mate Jordi Tixier. Honda, Kawasaki (funded by Monster Energy money) and KTM will be the likely candidates.
KTM Sport Director Pit Beirer spoke last week at the Grand Prix of Belgium about the priority for the manufacturer to re-sign the Dutch ace, particularly with the looming prospect of Ken Roczen departing the ‘orange’ camp next month after four seasons on the 250/450SX-F. Herlings’ contract status is an important ‘to do’ on Beirer’s schedule in the next six months even though he will be part of the team for over a year.
“He [Jeffrey] is too good, too strong and too ‘wanted’ that we can make an early offer or deal,” Beirer explained. “He has to listen to his options and one will be from us and it will be very strong. We will not let him go so easily. I also need to stay fair with him and will not put too much pressure right now. I said “come back to me when you are ready and without having done something stupid or crazy in signing this or that. Give me the first and the last chance.” That’s the commitment that I have and I trust him 100% on that one. I’m pretty relaxed that if I can match what he has then he will stay.”
“I would say this will happen during the first third of next season,” the German added with regards to the timing but it is likely that Herlings will already have offers heading into 2015 with people keen to grab his attention and secure his star status. Monster Energy in particular could be facing a barren season in 2015 if Ryan Villopoto does not join the Kawasaki Racing Team. Signing Herlings for 2016 and beyond will be one of their key activities.
Beirer also claims that there was some gentle pressure from within the same workshop for his MX2 champion. “We had some nice pushing from the Husqvarna side to get him on a white bike but the boss himself, Mr Pierer, decided that Jeffrey is a KTM hero and will stay so,” he says. “I think it would be too fast a step for Husqvarna. If you look how many years we were fighting at KTM and building it up step by step to become champions. You can grow too quickly – which is also something KTM tried with a direction in the past and the timing was too fast and wrong. Husqvarna need another year and then can take a ‘crazy horse’ and it will be interesting to see who will be the crazy horse at that time.”