Jeffrey Herlings of Red Bull KTM had arguably the most full and dominant season in FIM Motocross World Championship history in 2018, but has since been chasing the same level of through two injury-hit terms in 2019 and 2020. For the 19 rounds slated in the postponed 2021 season, the 26-year-old says he is focusing on points and endurance rather than outright glory.
Since entering the world championship as a 15-year-old in 2010, Herlings has won an MX2 or MXGP Grand Prix every year of his career. When he finished less than ten tournaments in 2019 and 2020, those returns dropped to just 2 and 4 respectively. He was forced to sit out due to a broken leg (twice) and a neck injury, and he finished 19th and 12th, respectively.
The Dutchman is now aiming for long-term success in 2021. He made similar sounds last year, but after having the 2019 reparatory metal work removed from his right foot, he enters the new calendar in better physical shape. The modifications were causing him to lose flexibility and feel, which led to his season-ending tumble in Italy last September.
Herlings has previously stated that reaching Stefan Everts’ record of 101 GP victories is a top priority – he currently has 90 – but he also recognizes the importance of completing a series, even if it means stifling some of his fierce desire for victory.
“Obviously the last couple of years I didn’t succeed in completing most of the races, so that has to be a big goal for me,” he said of ’21. “I have to be [present] everywhere and I don’t know if that means I’ll be close to the front each time, as has been proven in the past, but if I can try to be consistent every time I’m in the gate then I’ll hopefully be around the podium spots at the end of the year.”
Since first steering the KTM 450 SX-F in 2017, Herlings has won 29 out of 75 premier class races in the last five years. He does, however, share the most moto chequered flags with Tim Gajser, with the two of them owning 54 of the 185 in the last half-decade.
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