Jeffrey Herlings (KTM) won the Lombardy Grand Prix MXGP last Sunday. The Dutchman beat the Frenchman Romain Febvre (Kawasaki). Both riders won one heat and finished second in the other heat. Herlings’ victory in the second heat was the deciding factor.
Herlings and Febvre did score the same number of World Cup points. The Frenchman thus remained leader in the World Cup standings with 661 points, three points more than Herlings. It was a bad day for Tim Gajser (Honda). After his eighth place in the first series, he finished third in the second series. He finished fourth in the final result. In the World Cup standings, he drops to third place with 646 points.
But in principle, three more motocross riders can become world champions on Wednesday. Unseen. Herlings is aiming for his 99th GP victory, which means that he is only two more away from the presumed unapproachable record of Stefan Evert (101). The Dutchman also missed the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic due to a shoulder fracture. Provided he had been able to participate there, there might not have been a title fight now. It would be number two for Herlings in the MXGP world title, after that of 2018.
But then Herlings has to do better than Febvre, the 2015 world champion with whom he has a real rivalry. “He played it a little dirty at the starts by cutting me off,” Herlings said in an interview Sunday. “The next time I start behind him, he will feel it if he does that one more time. I am sure that if I start twice in the top three and my teammates also cooperate a bit, I will get on the best side.”
“I will probably just have to win twice,” the Dutchman said. “It will be a real war on Wednesday. It’s between me and Febvre: two different drivers, two manufacturers, two countries… I think we both deserve it, even Tim actually. Every point counts now, so it will be interesting Wednesday.”
Gajser has to hope that Herlings and Febvre will make mistakes. Or drive each other off the track. The Slovenian wants to add a fourth MXGP world title to his palmares.
“Herlings is the fastest, but…”
“I’m going for Herlings”, the departing Kevin Strijbos told Het Belang van Limburg. “Did you see his second series on Sunday? That looked so easy. He’s just the fastest. Even his lesser starts don’t bother him. I’m really hoping for Febvre though. Another name and with Kawasaki also another brand. Good for a change.”
“Herlings is indeed the fastest, there is no doubt about that,” said Stefan Everts. “But it’s not always the fastest who wins. I speak from experience. Just think of 1998 (when he lost the title to Sébastien Tortelli in the last Grand Prix, ed.). Such a title fight also takes place in the cup. That’s why I’m going for Febvre.”