MX2 World Champion Jeffrey Herlings was heavily tipped to be staying in the MX2 class for one more season and the final year on his Red Bull KTM contract.
The Dutchman had been coy on his plans for a number of weeks with many expecting and hoping he will move into the premier MXGP category after sealing his third consecutive title which could be wrapped up by round 14 or 15 of 17 if he continues his current unbeatable form.
The decision to stay on the 250SX-F in a division that he terrorises and in which he is unbeaten since the final round of the 2012 season will dismay race fans wanting to see Herlings compete against Tony Cairoli in MXGP.
It will also diminish interest in the MX2 class where he faces little competition. For KTM and Red Bull they will continue to enjoy the fruits of a tremendous athlete and the manufacturer will know they have the absolute best chance of maintaining their undefeated reign in MX2 since 2008. The motivation behind the decision for Herlings? “Many people forget I am 19 years of age,” he said speaking after his sixth pole position of the season at the MXGP of Germany. “If I stay in MX2 then I will only be 20 next year and will have another eight or nine years in MXGP. Hopefully I will stay healthy and have a long and successful career. There are so many things that could happen. There are two ways of thinking. In MX2 I can break records for sure and yeah, it is easier in this class than MXGP. I want Stefan’s [Everts] record!”
There is undoubtedly a lucrative side to Herlings’ relentless streak of victories, which is also a factor, but he has spoken repeatedly of hunting mentor Everts’ tally of ten titles world titles.
Despite the previous statement Herlings had insisted that nothing was final and it was rumoured that the rider had been shackled by KTM in talking about his future, pending a rumoured press conference by the brand at the Grand Prix of Sweden next week. “I still haven’t made up mind,” Herlings had claimed.
But yesterday in typical Herlings’ style he announced his decision on Twitter, saying: “I will stay in MX2 in 2015 on a KTM.” At the same time he confirmed his intention to ride one race in the US Outdoors series, “And I will race a AMA outdoor national in Unadilla. Really excited.”
The Red Bull-sponsored Dutch teenager is still only young at 19 and Pit Beirer, Head of KTM Motorsports, said the decision was made based on the fact that Herlings is still considered very young to move up to the MXGP class.
“After consultations with Jeffrey we have decided that it is good for him to remain in MX2 for another season, primarily because he is still very young. He also has the opportunity to break a lot of records in our sport,” Beirer said. He added that Jeffrey is looking at a potential additional 10-year racing career in the senior ranks so it made sense for him to spend one more year in MX2.
Beirer said on the decision to send Herlings to race one single round of the US Pro MX at Unadilla on August 9 in New Berlin, New York: “Jeffrey is having a great year, but it’s important to keep him motivated. Sending him to race in Unadilla fits perfectly with the summer break in the world championship season. Roger DeCoster and the Red Bull KTM Factory Team are looking forward to having Jeffrey compete in this one-off race and it will be very good experience for him.”
It will be a good opportunity for Herlings to race in a fresh new environment and will also keep him in racing mode during a gap in the world championship calendar.