However, he’s still not expected to be back on his bike until late April and then into FIM MXGP Motocross World Championship action shortly after that.
The Dutchman has also been ruled out of any plans to contest the AMA Motocross Nationals in the United States, for the time being at least.
“In Jeffrey’s contract, only the world championships is included in the MXGP. Participating in the MX circuit in America was a wish, an idea,” said Red Bull KTM sports director Joel Smets.
“KTM already has two advantages there (in the US), the American Cooper Webb and the Frenchman Marvin Musquin. Another driver would cause unnecessary rivalry. We prefer to see him alongside Tony Cairoli in the MXGP.
“We know Jeffrey’s drive and do not want to take any risks,” he continued. “He has made mistakes in the past and we think we should protect him against himself.”
Herlings made a visit to Munderfing and KTM Race HQ in Austria to plan a tentative schedule in the wake of a complex operation on his broken right foot.
In consultation with the factory Red Bull KTM team, race management and medical experts, Herlings could be riding his race bike again by late April.
Although he has declared himself happy with how the latest injury update went, it still means he’s out for many more weeks.
It could be that he’s not really fit until the MXGP of Portugal, in Agueda on the weekend of May 18-19, coincidentally the same date the AMA Pro Motocross championships kick into life with the Hangtown Motocross Classic at Rancho Cordova, California.
“There is a big cross through that world title,” said Herlings.
“It was my own fault. I fell and I cannot blame anyone (else). People said I might have to train a bit less hard, but I kept going and sometimes that works well because last year that resulted in 17 victories in 19 races.
“But now it is as if I have completely squeezed the orange and have thrown out another world title, which feels like failure – I am not proud of it.”
The Red Bull KTM Factory rider wouldn’t give a precise date for his return, but with so many races misses, it kills any chance of an MXGP title for him in 2019.
“It is difficult to accept that I only participate in day [grand prix] successes and it will be difficult to motivate myself for races without a main goal [of the world championship].”
Much oif his return to race action depends on the healing process but the 24-year-old is already able to train harder and with more flexibility after having his initial protective cast replaced three weeks ago.
The four-time motocross world champion has already missed rounds one and two of this year’s world championships (in Argentina and Britain) and is certain to miss upcoming GPs in Holland and Italy (four rounds in total that he’s had to skip), but will then hopefully be counting the days until he can again be behind a FIM World Championship start gate, and join his Red Bull KTM team-mates with Tony Cairoli and Jorge Prado currently holding the red leader’s plates of both MXGP and MX2 classes respectively.
“Rehab has been going very well and I cannot wait to be back and to throw a leg over the bike again,” said Herlings.
“I want to be back at the GPs as quick as possible but we cannot say which race yet until I get some riding time. I’m also able to step-up my cycling and swimming now. For sure we’ll miss the next two rounds and we also don’t want to rush things and risk a setback.”
Photo courtesy Ray Archer
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