Chase Stallo: Does this not just scream Bob Hannah? This is old-school grit and determination at it’s finest. Broken leg? Put some duct tape on it. Broken arm? Slap a Band-Aid on it. Herlings will either come away from this as a gritty hero or a young star that let one championship get to his head.
Recovery time for a broken femur is typically four to six months. Herlings will be just under eight weeks removed from the injury when the MXGP of Mexico gets underway this weekend. Herlings does have one thing in his favor, though: this is a flyaway GP, meaning the entry list will only consist of around twenty riders (give or take a few). Herlings enters the weekend 23 points clear (with a possible 50 points remaining) of Tixier, so let’s go through a few title scenarios:
- IF TIXIER GOES 1-1: If Tixier were to go 1-1 this weekend (which he has never done in his GP career), Herlings would have to go 7-8 or 8-7 to tie Tixier in points. (Note: Herlings owns the tiebreaker).
- IF TIXIER GOES 1-2: Herlings would at least have to go 9-9, or any other combination that picks up 24 points.
- IF TIXIER GOES 3-3: Herlings would at least have to go 11-14 or 14-11, or any other combination that picks up 17 points.
- IF TIXIER GOES 5-4: Last weekend at the MXGP of Brazil, Tixier finished 5-4 for fourth overall. If he repeats those scores this weekend, Herlings would only have to finish tenth or better in ONE moto.
- IF HERLINGS GAINS 2 POINTS OVER TIXIER’S SCORE IN FIRST MOTO: He will claim his third MX2 crown. Herlings owns the tiebreaker, and Tixier cannot amass more than 25 points in a moto.
There are multiple scenarios we could run through, but these give you an idea of what Herlings needs to do this weekend.
Davey Coombs: This can really only go one of two ways for Jeffrey Herlings: he can gut out the pain and score enough points to hold off Jordi Tixier’s late challenge, or he can suffer another injury. The stakes are extremely high either way, and neither is without precedence.
The first scenario is reminiscent of the 1982 AMA 500cc Motocross Championship, when Team Honda’s Darrell Schultz went into the last round at Carlsbad with a collapsed lung and some broken ribs. He somehow endured on what was one of the roughest tracks of all, and went home with the coveted #1 plate. Ironically, he never wore it. In fact, he never raced again.
And then there’s the Mike Alessi scenario. He was primed to take championship in the 2009 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship after sweeping the first and second rounds at Hangtown and Freestone. But he came to High Point and shattered his kneecap while practicing. He had it surgically repaired, then threw caution to the wind and attempted to ride Thunder Valley one week later. That ended in tears when Josh Grant tangled with Alessi on the very first lap, leading to an ugly, painful re-shattering of the kneecap. #800 gave it hell, but he ended up on the sidelines for the rest of the year.
Herlings’ year ends either way this weekend. He’s got specially made braces, a little bit of cushion as far as the points go, and a terribly thin field—there may only be twenty riders lined up, which means just starting each moto will give him a couple of points in Mexico. Respect for trying, just like Schultz and Alessi, and we’ll see soon enough how strong the leg is, though we already know how strong #84’s will is in simply trying.
Steve Matthes: The bottom line in this is that Herlings’ doctors have cleared him, so he should be good to go. And I hope it’s a doctor that has his best interests in mind, and not some buddy doctor that is a super-fan of Jeffrey’s who wants to see him win another MX2 World Championship. One would think KTM would step in and stop the Dutchman if he isn’t, as it would be another KTM rider to win the title if it not Herlings, so KTM would win either way. KTM, you would think, would not risk its star rider’s health for one more MX2 title, right? Herlings will be back in the class next year to challenge for the title, so the risk seems unnecessary to me.
Herlings’ chances are not necessarily slim—the starting gate could have as few as twenty riders. He could potentially ride around and finish fifteenth and collect enough points to win the title. I don’t see Tixier going 1-1 this weekend. He hasn’t been “the guy” even with Herlings out.
I don’t understand why he’s risking it and why he continues to race MX2. I’m confused as to why the GPs race in a country with only twenty riders, of which only fifteen are capable of staying within a few seconds of the leader. So, in a way, I’m just confused when it comes to the GPs.