PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREA WILSON
AUSTIN, TX, APR. 11 - If you’re reigning AMA Superbike Champion Josh Herrin and you’ve stepped into the deep end – a.k.a. the Moto2 class in the World Championship – coming home to the U. S. of A for the Grand Prix of the Americas is a nice boost. Especially after a disastrous race debut at Qatar that ended as soon as it started after he got caught up in a first-lap crash.
“It was pretty tough just because qualifying definitely didn’t go how we wanted,” Herrin said looking back at Qatar. “We were 27th on the grid, which was the furthest I’ve ever been back on the grid so it was pretty hard to take in. But in the race we got up to 14th on the first lap and before I knew it I was sliding on asphalt. So I’m happy to come back to the United States and just put that race behind me and hopefully leave here with a lot better result for sure.”
Not only is it nice to be on home turf, but the Air Asia Caterham rider also got his first taste of a MotoGP pre-race press conference, sharing the stage with fellow Americans Nicky Hayden and Colin Edwards. And, of course, some other guys you may have heard of -Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez.
“To be honest with you I never should be up here with these guys. It’s quite an honor to be up here with such great riders,” said Herrin. “Coming to racing Moto2 as the only American is really exciting and also to be able to come and do it in front of my home crowd is huge deal for me. I’m really excited to just get the weekend over with actually because Qatar didn’t go as we wanted it to. And we’re just hoping for a better result and just to enjoy the weekend really. I’m excited to be here, like I said. CoTA’s [Circuit of The Americas] treated me really well and given us a lot of passes for my friends and family to come out. Just hopefully we can put on a good show for them.”
Moto2 is arguably one of the toughest championships in the world. It’s a highly competitive class with a field that often times has more than a dozen riders within a second of the leader. And Herrin is adjusting.
“It’s a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be to be honest with you,” Herrin said. “It’s basically the very best person I’ve ever rode with in the AMA [Superbike] but there’s 40 of them. It makes it really hard. You really have to be mentally strong. That’s the main thing that I’ve found out because riding around behind 20th place isn’t easy when you’ve come from being in top five all the time for the past 10 years. That’s been the hardest thing for me is in testing and even throughout the race weekend, is to be so far back.”
In spite of his struggles early on, Herrin is still positive and is looking to keep progressing.
“But the times are close -18th place in Free Practice 3 was under one second. So you just always have to think about that and I just have to remember it’s my first year. A lot of these guys I’ve been watching race since I was a little especially guys like Tom Luthi and stuff. So I respect a lot of them. And they are definitely really fast.”