Moto Media

with ... Jeffrey Herlings

Copy and photo courtesy of Youthstream, written by Geoff Meyer.

Herlings showed amazing speed in Bulgaria last year and his close battles with Marvin Musquin and Ken Roczen during the weekend were a highlight of the opening round of the 2010 series. Herlings and Roczen have raced against each other for years with Herlings often getting the upperhand in the European Championship races, but since turning pro it's been Roczen who has looked stronger. For Herlings it's been a quick learning curve as he went from an 80cc wonder to a Grand Prix racer in a short time.

"My father stopped racing when I was six or seven years old. I started riding very young and it was straight away really professional. It all went so quick from the earlier teams to racing for the Jacky Martens team and now the Red Bull Teka KTM Factory team. The time flies."

"I improved a lot when I moved to the World Championship last year,"Herlings told. "I know it's going to be hard to beat guys like Kenny (Roczen) and Max (Anstie), but I am going to give it my best and see what happens. I have everything I need to become a World Champion, so nowit's up to me."

What did happen to Herlingsin 2010 s he lost track at a critical moment in the season. After winning his home Grand Prix in Valkenswaard,the Dutchman began to think ahead, instead of enjoying his racing. He started thinking about being a World Champion.

"After the first four or five Grand Prix's I started thinking too big and I started thinking maybe I could become World Champion, but that wasn't smart, being that I was just 15 years old. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and it started going wrong in America, France and Germany. I started to relax again and just have fun in my racing and in Latvia, Sweden and Lommel I did that and finished on the podium three times in a row. Unfortunately, after those podiums I got injured and that ended my season."

Herlings also found out that the prize of winning meansthe wrongpeople filling your life. Friendships build on his success were not really friendships at all.

"The injury to my shoulder made me learn a lot. I thought I had a lot of friends, but when you are laying on the couch for two or three months you don't have much to do and you suddenly don't have many friends left over. After I won the Grand Prix in Valkenswaard I had so many people wanting to be friends, the press were calling every day, and girls were everywhere, but when I was injured you find out who your friends are."

"I got a big head, but then I got knocked down. I was on the highest step and then I was at the lowest. I stopped listening to people like my parents and Stefan (Everts). They were telling me stuff and all I was thinking that I was Jeffrey Herlings and I knew what I needed to do. I've come back to ground now and listening to them again"

One thing for sure is that Herlings will go into Bulgaria this year with a little more experience and alot more confidence. Can he battle with Ken Roczen is something we won't know until the evening of 10 April, but one thing for sure is he will be ready to give it 100% and this time he will be riding with experience, something he lacked in 2010.