The MXGP World Champion-in-waiting and birthday boy has been a statistical force of nature in 2018. On the edge of a momentous weekend ahead for Jeffrey Herlings we delve into the digits …
Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Kegums (LAT) 2018 © Ray Archer
Today (Wednesday) Red Bull KTM’s Jeffrey Herlings celebrates his 24th birthday, and is only a matter of hours away from his home Grand Prix this weekend and a double celebration with fulfilment of his lifetime dream of winning an FIM Motocross World Championship in the premier class of MXGP. 2018 has been nothing short of sensational for the Dutchman who has not stopped racking up statistics.
There is always a bigger story behind the numbers (we’ll get to that) but Jeffrey’s track record is perhaps the most comprehensive in any FIM motorcycle racing series this year. How? Just see …
Jeffrey Herlings (#84, NED) KTM 450 SX-F St. Jean d´ Angely (FRA) 2018 © Ray Archer
Since the end of February 2018 MXGP has reached 18 rounds and 36 motos to-date. In that time and through heat, humidity, freezing cold, rain, hard-pack, sand, mud and all types of conditions #84 has:
- Won 15 rounds – equaling a record total of victories for one season
- Walked the podium 17 times (he missed the Grand Prix of Ottobiano with injury)
- Finished no lower than 2nd (twice)
- Finished no lower than 3rd in a moto, just once (first race of the Grand Prix of Russia)
- Claimed 29 chequered flags from a possible 34, 23 more than the next rider
- Led 397 of the total of 643 laps this year, 200 laps more than the next closest rider
- Only two other MXGP riders have won a moto or Grand Prix in 2018
- He is currently in his longest winning streak in just his second season in the MXGP class with 7 consecutive successes. They have come in Indonesia (x2), Czech Republic, Belgium, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Turkey. He has also won in Argentina, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Latvia, Germany, Britain and France this year
- Herlings has led the championship at all but one Grand Prix in 2018
- If he confirms the title by finishing 15th or higher (and if Tony Cairoli wins) in the first moto of the upcoming Dutch Grand Prix then he will have four career titles: the same amount as Harry Everts, Torsten Hallman and Heikki Mikkola
- He will be only the third rider to have both MX2 and MXGP FIM World Championship medals
- If Herlings wins the final two rounds of the season he’ll take his career win tally to 84 (he is already the third most successful motocrosser ever. Stefan Everts holds the record at 101 wins)
Round 19 of 20 will take place in the sand of Assen for the fourth Grand Prix of the Netherlands and is to be staged by the famous Dutch Circuit. Herlings won the event in 2017.
Jeffrey Herlings (NED) KTM 450 SX-F Pangkal Pinang (INA) 2018 © Ray Archer
15 wins, 17 podiums, 29 motos, 95-point lead: It almost makes the job look easy but Herlings is always quick to stress the amount of work, compromise and sacrifice that has gone into the scorecard. He also regularly credits the Red Bull KTM Team and perhaps their most crucial work was in refining the works KTM 450 SX-F so that by round five in Portugal Herlings was in frequent contention for Grand Prix holeshots. Aside from the scrutiny of battling and facing-off against teammate, reigning champ and nine times title winner Tony Cairoli, Herlings also had other hard moments. Prior to round eleven he sustained a multiple fracture to his right collarbone while training and missed the Grand Prix of Ottobiano. Less than three weeks after surgery he returned at the Grand Prix of Asia and hasn’t been toppled from the top of the podium since. Ottobiano and the dramatic loss of 50 points from the lead he’d been steadily building in the series was a stark reminder of the horrendous narrow margins between glory and disaster in MXGP and helped Herlings refocus. The rest has been written in the annals of the sport.
Jeffrey Herlings (NED) & Wayne Banks (AUS) KTM 450 SX-F St. Jean d´Angely (FRA) 2018 © Ray Archer
Photos: Ray Archer