MCNews catches up with Suzuki’s American import Daniel Herrlein
By Marc Jones
Daniel Herrlein has made the trip across from the USA to compete in this years Australian Supercross series aboard a KSF Racing Suzuki. As an amateur, Herrlein didn’t achieve the results that would propel him to a factory team ride, with an eighth-place finish at Loretta Lynn’s the best of his score-card.
Herrlein still made the step into the professional circuit, racing supercross in the AMA series, battling amongst the best riders in the world, whilst running in the top 10 on the east coast.
The 24-year-old made the transition to Arenacross where he has main event wins to his name, as well as winning the 2016 Lites East Championship. This year he managed to finish the Arenacross series fourth, going down to eventual winner Gavin Faith, who currently leads the lites class here in the Australian Supercross Series.
When the offer to race down under came up, the Bethesda, Ohio, native jumped at the opportunity and now finds himself on the other side of the world doing what he loves.
MCNews: How did the deal come about to come to Australia and race Supercross?
Daniel Herlein: “I didn’t know much about Australian Supercross. I train at Club 57 MX in Florida, and the Fischers (KSF Racing) came over to do some training with my coach Brad, and they thought that I had potential to do well in the Australian series. The deal has been about a year in the making, and almost saw me coming over to compete at the end of last year’s series, but we decided it was best to compete in the whole series in 2017. It’s been great, they’ve provided excellent hospitality, and gone above and beyond to make sure I’m ready to go race day.”
MCNews: You’re riding the all-new RMZ-450, is Suzuki a brand you’ve ridden before or is it a fresh start on the bike?
DH: “I’ve actually never ridden a Suzuki before. I rode Hondas for a long time but then switched to KTM for this years Arenacross series, and did my preparation for this series on the KTM. I didn’t get to ride a Suzuki until a week before Jimboomba, so we’ve been working hard during our time off, to test and get the bike to where I want it to be. It’s an all-new bike, and given I hadn’t ridden one before, I had nothing to base it off performance wise, but it’s very different to the KTM which made it hard at first to get used to. Now I’ve had some time on the bike I’m starting to really like it. It turns well, the power is smooth, and each time I go out on the track, I feel more comfortable which is a great feeling knowing I’m always improving.”
MCNews: You went down in the first turn at Jimboomba, how did you feel that day before the crash, given it was your first race in Australia?
DH: “I felt good, maybe a little tight. I haven’t done anything like this before in another country, so I was nervous. I had a good qualifying time but just had to get the first race jitters out of the way. The whole night’s riding was great, just had some bad luck with a rider going down in front of me in the main event, so that was unfortunate, but I learned from that. It was good to learn about what the tracks here are like and get a grasp on how it all works compared to back home.”
MCNews: Did you know much about the other riders in Australia? Were there any expectations?
DH:” I didn’t know what to expect honestly. I knew Brayton was coming over, he’s really fast in America. I know of Ferris, Reardon, all the top guys, I knew they’d be fast. I also knew some of the guys I hadn’t heard of like Dylan Long would be fast as well. But it’s great, it’s good competition, probably more than I was expecting, but nevertheless good to mix it up with them all.”
MCNews: You can’t compare the AMA series to our home series, but what do you think Australian promotors could take from the series in the USA?
DH: “As far as the tracks go, so far they been a great size, very similar to the AMA series. I think the big things using outdoor venues, where seating is limited, and it’s not really great for viewing the racing. The advantage of an indoor stadium is you can sit anywhere in the stands and catch all the action. Jimboomba had a good setup, but the Bacchus Marsh round lacked seating, which makes it hard for spectators to see the whole track. There’s a lot of fans and riders here in Australia, the potential is great, it’s just accommodating those fans and making sure they want to come back next year. I was quite surprised at the turnout for each race so far, I didn’t really know what to expect, but it has exceeded my expectations.”
MCNews: What goals have you set for the series?
DH: “I just want to improve each week, whether it’s my corner speed or results, I just want to come away from the round knowing I’m taking a step in the right direction. I’ve had a pair of eleventh place finishes so there’s room for improvement there. I’d like to break into the top 5, and maybe even grab a podium before the year is out.”
MCNews: Have you got any plans for next year?
DH: “I’ll be returning to compete in the full Arenacross series once again with Woodstock KTM, and with how the schedule works I may compete in a few east coast supercross round on the 450. As for the summer, I may have the opportunity to compete in a few outdoor nationals, but it will be on my own with no team behind me. I spent this year’s summer preparing for the Australian series, and I noticed great results in my fitness and other aspects of riding. So I feel it was really beneficial and it may be something I look at doing next year as well. I took a step back and worked on my weaknesses and have noticed a real difference just in racing these two rounds.”