Last weekend’s High Point National was one for the ages. Tomac and Sexton and the Lawrence brothers were magnificent, as was Red Bull KTM’s Ryan Dungey, who nearly scored a podium. Antonio Cairoli was not so lucky, as bad luck had him in both motos. He crashed with Christian Craig on the first moto and ended up retiring, then told Steve Matthes afterwards that he forgot that in MXGP you go to the starting gate for both motos depending on where you finish in qualifying, but in the AMA rules you go to the starting grid for the second run depending on how you finished the first. He said he should have gone on and gotten a better starting pick, but forgot about the rule difference. Nevertheless, Antonio lined up on the outside and nearly landed the holeshot, only to then run out of space and go off the track. A class act through and through, Cairoli was gracious to all the fans, despite the poor afternoon, and he returned to Italy the following day. Hopefully we’ll see him again before the MXoN. MXGP fans are lucky to have this legend to cheer for over the past 17 years. It is a world motocross treasure.
The High Point trail really formed after a wet morning and got extremely rough. The movement towards the shallower disc than in the past has continued, and I think all four tracks have been better and more race-ready as a result. You know RedBud will be perfect, just like Southwick, Spring Creek, Washougal. . .. And it reminds me that the 450s will go first to RedBud and Southwick so that the second 450 bikes from each can be featured on NBC. I know changes like this are confusing, especially with the streaming issues we had to start the season. (Look for announcements about other fixes soon.) This also means that practice 450 B will get the smoother Southwick, compared to group A, and practice 250 B will get the hardest track, because 250 A will come out before them. And no, I don’t think Jeffrey Herlings will surprise everyone and show up to take on Tomac, but Jason Weigandt will have more on that next!
Good luck to Jase “Gypsy Tales” Macalpine getting current MXGP World Champion Jeffrey Herlings to join his podcast last week. The Gypsy Tales the shows are quite long – a full three hours of conversation with The Bullet – but you definitely learn a lot about a topic. The show’s headline is Herlings saying he’d like to race a one-on-one match at Southwick against Eli Tomac to see once and for all who really is the fastest. It makes it sound like Herlings knows he’d kick Tomac’s ass, but if you listen to the show, you’ll realize it all comes from a place of respect. He really doesn’t know if he could beat Eli, he just wants to see! Herlings is a huge Tomac fan and said he felt they were alike in their approach to racing. They work hard and show up to win, and they’re not really interested in the other parts of the race. Jeffrey is ready to do the fan stuff, the media stuff, the social media stuff, but he’d rather just train, show up, race and go home. He thinks Tomac is the same. Additionally, Herlings said that when he finished the race, he was done. He has no interest in coming to the races as a trainer or trainer.
As for the Southwick match race between Herlings and Tomac, well, it’s a bit of a stretch to imagine it happening in reality. I know Gypsy Tales Jase is passionate about the concept and trying to find ways to bring it to life. Interesting.
Herlings even went so far as to say that watching this year’s Lucas Oil Pro motocross races on TV, he thinks American riders are now going faster than what he sees of the peloton in MXGP. That’s a pretty big claim, but he has huge, huge respect for Tomac, Chase Sexton, Jason Anderson, Ken Roczen, and more. He also thinks that American tracks, because they are wider and faster and have more traction, are better suited to go fast on 450s than many European tracks. I was also surprised by the extent of Herlings knowledge of Monster Energy Supercross. In the podcast, he talks about supercross races from a dozen years ago. He really studies racing in the United States!
To that end, we all know Herlings wanted to come and race here this summer, but he would have only had about three weeks on the bike before Fox Raceway opened, which wasn’t enough. Instead, he decided to have another surgery to remove a plaque from an old foot injury, which had been bothering him for a while. That will sideline him for this entire season, but he said he will return to the United States and compete on the full national schedule at some point, possibly for the final season of his career. Hopefully he keeps that promise and when he arrives we can see the Bullet 100% complete. It’s pretty well understood that Ryan Villopoto wasn’t quite in top form when he ventured into the GPs in 2015, and that Tony Cairoli wasn’t 100% fit for the races either. he did this year.