There is not even any point beating around the bush when it comes to previewing the twelfth round of the FIM Motocross World Championship, the Grand Prix of Indonesia, as there is just one topic that everyone is going to want to discuss. Jeffrey Herlings will make his return to racing and attempt to cling onto a twelve-point advantage in the premier division.
Jeffrey Herlings obviously broke his collarbone on the Wednesday before the previous round and then had surgery that evening, so would have had two weeks and two days to recover by the time that bikes roll onto the track for the first time on Saturday. It is obviously not a long time at all. There is a reason for him to be pleased, however, as he only had five days to recover when he last broke his collarbone three years ago. Although that experiment was not successful, it was due to reasons that were out of his control. There is no reason to think that this weekend will follow a similar pattern.
What makes this whole situation intriguing is that the Grand Prix of Indonesia is still an unknown quantity, even though this is the second time that the FIM Motocross World Championship has travelled to the exotic location. Will torrential rain batter the circuit once again? What are the conditions going to be like if there is no rain at all? What heights will the temperatures reach on race day? All of those factors could impact the way in which he performs and how his collarbone holds up. If the upcoming round was at a circuit like Valkenswaard, for instance, then it would be much easier to predict the outcome.
There is no reason to think that things will be horrific for Jeffrey Herlings though. Although he may not be at his best on race day, he could ride around at fifty percent and slot into the top five quite comfortably. If he acquires a brace of fifths at Pangkal Pinang and Antonio Cairoli, his greatest rival, sweeps both motos, there would be an eighteen-point swing and he would be six points down heading into the second Asian event. Even that would not be considered a disaster. Laying all of the factors out onto a bit of paper like this makes it abundantly clear why no one seems to be panicking.
Although this situation has now been tackled in-depth, there is one more point that must be considered. Jeffrey Herlings is not going to enter the twelfth round with no idea about how things are going to pan out. After riding earlier on in the week, less than two weeks after surgery, he has an idea of how much he can push and what to expect. Upon review, he would have already come to terms with the fact that a fifth may be his ceiling and will not ride over his head to achieve more than that. Had he not had that experience, which could have easily happened, it would be much more unsettling heading into round twelve of twenty.
Whatever happens, there is almost no doubt that the Grand Prix of Indonesia will be one of the most intriguing of the season. Although some like to complain about the flyaway events, interest levels do tend to spike whenever one arises. There are just more questions than answers and that is always an exciting prospect.
Words: Lewis Phillips | Lead Image: KTM Images/Ray Archer