You have clearly been struggling ever since, but of late you have expressed that you feel good, physically, and no longer want to blame any sub-par performances on a lack of strength, and are over making excuses.
At the Phillip Island season opener you were, relatively speaking, nowhere, not compared to where we know you should be. Doubt started to creep in up and down pit-lane as to whether you would get your mojo back. From the outside looking in, things looked decidedly glum, plenty were thinking, could this be it for Troy Herfoss and motorcycle racing…?
Last month in Queensland though it seemed as though things were starting to get back on track. You didn’t qualify all that well, not by your standards, but a brake failure during qualifying certainly didn’t help.
You then went eight-tenths quicker than your qualifying time in race one. In fact, you actually set a faster lap in that race than all but three riders; only Jones, Maxwell and Staring went quicker in that opening bout in QLD.
The track was a little slower in the afternoon for race two and it looked as though you actually went a little backwards. But overall there were signs in Queensland that things were starting to come together.
During testing at Wakefield earlier this month I wouldn’t say that from my eye things looked all that encouraging when I was watching you out on track. I could see some signs of reasonable top ten pace every now and then, but it still didn’t look like podium pace or as though it was the old Herf’ on the bike, not from where I was watching…
I know you have said you don’t want to make excuses, but, at the moment do you think it is you or the bike?
Troy Herfoss: “We’ve had one day on the bike since Queensland, and it’s just that it was a bit of a shit of a day, we had a lot of stuff to try over the two days, and then we rolled out on the bike we knew, so we rolled out on the first five laps on the bike I won on, in the previous year. Then we had a set-up sort of based on how Queensland went that we wanted to try, and had some ideas, we hoped to do half a day or even a full day really on last year’s set-up, get myself up to proper speed and then the rain hit. We sort of did those five laps then the session got called, red flagged or whatever, and we just jumped straight into the new set-up and I didn’t feel comfortable all day really. Or I should say I didn’t feel like I was at my best all day, and we were just testing really. We actually didn’t even know our transponder was on, but at the end of the day we realised there was two or three of us with transponders, so everyone could see how slow I was.”
Trev: I actually didn’t even know about the timing mate, I think most that bothered with a stop-watch had you pegged around a flat nine I think.
Herfoss: “Yea I mean I did a 59.8 in the first five laps, I started off as I normally would at Wakefield and then we went into a testing program and it just wasn’t working for us, and we didn’t have time to go through what we wanted to do. Basically it looks like I’m going a lot less [fast] than I am, in Queensland we had a little drama, I had my brakes fail in qualifying, so I had to roll into pit lane without brakes and jump onto a bike I hadn’t ridden at all, and then go out. The next morning in warm-up I was faster but in the race I was one of the fastest on track, the reality is if I had of qualified where I should have, on the second row, I would have definitely been racing for the podium. And I believe I would have made more passes on the other guys at the end of the race, but that’s just the way it is. In race 2 I got stuck behind Lachlan Epis and didn’t get to go fast on the new tyre. But the reality is that from lap five to lap 15, I was three-tenths behind Wayne, so it looks like I’m going a lot worse than I am. So I’m going to Wakefield pretty happy really. I have come from a pretty big injury to looking like I could be challenging for the podium within three rounds.”
Trev: That’s good to hear and the brake failure certainly doesn’t help. Unfortunately I didn’t really get to see you that much on the bike in Queensland, because we didn’t see you up the front, but did it feel as though you were sort of back to riding like we are used to seeing you ride, and I guess if you were going that quick up there, then you must have been perhaps back at that level for the first time since the accident?
Herfoss: “It’s happened a couple of times now, even back at Eastern Creek at a random club night, I went fast and then had a small crash in the races but I was essentially myself… I just need racing at the moment. Like Phillip Island was terrible, if you really look at it, I had a absolutely horrendous qualifying and stupid bike issues, but I went out in warm-up the next morning and was doing a reasonably ok time, it was just that I was stuck in 16th place on the grid. Like if I would have qualified where I think I could have, in that seventh to tenth area – in Race 1 there was a group in sixth back to 15th – I could have been at the front of that group potentially. So things have just happened that have made my weekends exceptionally bad, and it’s easy to blame the injury, and that’s fair enough because I have been injured, but the reality is that I’m a lot closer than people think. Everyone has their stories as to why they could have done better over the weekend. I just have to make sure I have a better Saturday and if I can get through Saturday on the front two rows… who knows what could happen.”
Trev: Like you say that two-day test you only got a couple of sessions in, one on the old bike and then you couldn’t really get comfortable enough on the second bike. So I’m a bit surprised to hear you haven’t been on the bike since then, considering those few niggling issues that you’ve had. As in a lot of the guys were back there the following week, as you know, I guess I’m just surprised you haven’t been back on the bike between last time I saw you, and now we are going to go into the race weekend, with only the limited time in practice that you get on a race weekend.
Herfoss: “It is what it is. I just have to be careful and make sure I pick and choose the times when I take the risk, because at the end of the day I’m still essentially riding on a hip that’s not fully recovered. You just do what you can and try and get stronger and stronger. I haven’t forgotten how to ride the bike, mentally it’s just about getting through a weekend, feeling comfortable and making small progress. At the moment I’ve got a great team of people around me and they all believe I’m good enough, which is great, so they are trying to make the bike suit me. Essentially as I’ve said in the past, the only thing that’s changed since I was winning races was my body and now the tyres, but in the past I’ve won on Pirelli, Dunlop, Michelin, different suspension, all that kind of stuff. The only real thing that’s changed is myself. So definitely this weekend – and I’ve spoken to Deon and all the guys about this – it’s all about working on me. The bike doesn’t need to be changed, I guess we’re taking a step back or sideways, taking a different approach and I don’t have to pull into pit-lane to make changes every ten minutes, maybe sitting in pit lane for five minutes to have a think about it myself may be better. That may seem silly, but that’s where I’m at.”
Trev: That doesn’t sound silly at all. Thanks for the update and clarification on those few things, and you don’t know anywhere better than you do Wakefield.
Herfoss: “It’s not my favourite track and its not the best track in the world, but I do enjoy riding there. The main thing is that I’ve raced there two times on my new Fireblade and I’ve tested there now, and I just know exactly what I’ve done in the past around that track. Whereas at Phillip Island it was a new track for the bike and then Queensland we’ve done one day before so I had limited time. Now I’ve got a lot of laps around the track with this bike, so it’s just… the best part is not that its my home track and I’ve had success there. The best thing is its a track where I’ve got a lot of data, and know each sector of the track and what I’m capable of in the past.”
Trev: I look forward to catching up with you on Friday, onwards and upwards. I hope you get in that right headspace and comfortable on the bike and we see you back up the front, where we know you belong.
Herfoss: “Thanks Trev, appreciate it.”
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