"Our message is especially addressed to the manufacturers and the team owners – please control your team staff and riders better. What happened in Mexico, in France and in Portugal is unacceptable and this is not only the fault of the riders who are constantly under a lot of pressure, but it is especially the fault of the responsible people around them, who, instead of giving them good advice and to calm everything down, just push them over their limits on the track and off the track. We really understand that on the race track the competition is high because there are manufacturers and sponsors who invest a lot of money and work to have victories, and this is fine, but the competition must be fair, the riders and teams have to understand that they are ambassadors of our sport, and they have to give an example of fairness and respect when they are on the bike, in the paddock and when they speak in front of media.
"Youthstream will have zero tolerance with anyone (riders and team members) who bring a negative image to the World Championship and to everyone's work. We would like to remind you that the team's participation agreement stipulates that Youthstream's partner is the team, and it's the team which is responsible for their own staff and riders, therefore Youthstream will sanction the team for problems caused by a rider or a team member, independently from FIM which is the sole authority able to apply sporting sanctions.
"The relationship between YS and the manufacturers is better and better and the very large majority of the manufacturers and international sponsors support very much Youthstream's policy to cover the growing markets around the world. Manufacturers and sponsors invest huge amounts of money into the teams, and Youthstream and it's sponsors invest into the Championship promotion. Due to the economical crisis we know the times in Europe and USA are very complicated, and for this reason it's imperative to go to markets where manufacturers can sell their bikes and sponsors can sell their products."
Jeffrey Herlings has grabbed the recent headliner, sitting centre stage as a "teenage superstar" with an overinflated ego, but HIS indiscretions are just the tip of the iceberg.
Herlings versus Tommy Searle out of the gate and the farcical strike in Mexico, where the kids got used by the same paranoid minders who don't want to go to Russia either, should have got the FIM bosses on their toes, but the tea and crumpets, French kisses and nodding duck receptions have made them blind to the reality that they were losing control over the world series. The incident, which even Herlings has admitted was "inexcusable" and made with willful intent, not a "racing incident" or even a tough block, was not a joke; it was akin to running someone off the road on the motorway, in which case it could be classed as "attempted manslaughter" by an overzealous DA.
There is not even an official record of the hearing which gave Herlings a slap on the wrist that evening; O-Tone Wolfgang Srb: "It is our policy to maintain a quiet diplomacy and we do not comment publicly on either the incidents or announce the names of those involved".
It is to a credit to Tonus that he agreed to the makeshift kiss-and-make-up on Saturday in Portugal - reminiscent of Mickael Pichon shaking hands with Stefan Everts after the handbags-at-dawn goggles incident at Sun City in 2004 - as part of the attempted rehabilitation of Herlings, and the apparant truce between the Dutch teenager and TS was put into perspective when Tommy explained why the conversation in Portugal took place: "No-one will start next to the kid anymore; even Van Horebeek chose gate four because he reckoned Herlings had said he was going to ride across me and he didn't want to get caught in the middle."
Gautier Paulin didn't bat an eyelid in public at Christophe Pourcel's verbal assault after the hard, but fair, pass at St Jean, though he did comment privately that "our sport is not for soft guys" and it is significant that the KRT leader steers clear of gate conflicts; in Brazil he went to the start second and chose a gate in the middle !
Tommy and Jeffrey are by no means the only duo who have not always ridden straight out of the gate this year. Making space before turn one makes sense, but there is is a 30 yard rule in speedway for a reason. Toni Cairoli started his demolition job on CP377 in 2007 by planting the Frenchie in the fence - "There was a rut just out of the gate which made me go right" LOL - and the tactics reached their 2012 zenith to date in the final moto of the day at Agueda when first moto dominator Clement Desalle was sandwiched just yards out of the gate. That incident went unnoticed officially, but you can bet that Clement has not forgotten ... and both TC and CP377 gave him a wide berth as the Belgian charged back through the pack !
These incidents are all part of the sport of motocross and have been going on since the creation. When David Philippaerts asked Dave Thorpe in the evening at Agueda 2010 if he thought Cairoli had broken his finger on purpose, Thorpey replied: "I don't think he meant to break your finger, but he definitely meant to give your front wheel a little tap. (slight pause) WE used to do that as well." But without an occasional flexing of muscles by the powers-that-be, an escalation is inevitable. After Toni spent the following weekend running away from David, they got one of those "quiet diplomacy" chats, but not until the FIM had the facts rubbed in their face !
What's done is done, and a revision of sentence would not be possible either morally or legally, but the initial soft touch approach with Herlings in France opened the door. When Cairoli put the boot in on Davide Guarneri in 2005, he was quite rightly suspended from the race and the whip could stay in the cupboard for the rest of the year.
It would have been a public disgrace to sanction Rui Goncalves and Jamie Law for their little scuffle at Agueda after Herlings got away scot-free six days earlier - Portuguese FIM vice-president Jorge Viegas, one of the guys who sat in judgement, agreed when I said likewise on Sunday - but Giuseppe Luongo was on site for the first time since April to restore order and FIM man Srb was pronouncing a clear policy change - "Level 4 - zero tolerance".
There is no justice in this world. All credit to Pit Beirer for calling Herlings to heel, but showing that KTM was putting its house in order in a public display of indignance was just as relevant to them as slapping the Dutch kid's wrist. And don't forget that the hefty FIM fine was for mouthing off on TV - only using words which are listed in the OED incidentally - and NOT for trying to mame Tonus in France or for his disgraceful verbal assault on the Swiss family on Sunday evening in Portugal which was also directly responsible for the extensive damage to the camper of innocent bystander Hugo Basaula (wonder who's paying for that !). The whole sorry tale reflects a society in general where a smart-arse lawyer can get a football star acquitted of murder, a proven pedophile gets wrapped up in cotton wool for 18 months before they set him free to do it again, but a cretinous surburban magistrate will send down a VAT dodger for five years with no time off for good behaviour and the victim of mindless arson gets nothing more than a sympathetic pat on the back.
The monetary side of the FIM and KTM fines will presumably not be forgotten completely by a kid who only a fortnight earlier declared publicly on facebook that his interests were "racing motocross, having money in the bank and being cheered on by my fans". But a points loss or suspension would undoubtedly have been more justified than the selfsame action awaiting some poor first-time-offender sucker if the escalation continues.
If any of you have not been following developments closely in recent weeks and are wondering what Herlings actually did, you can see him vindictively take down Tonus in France @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUzBZ_IvfK0 and his post-race outburst in Portugal is online @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz5jfZvrDR0
Hopefully Jeffrey has learnt from his indiscretions and we can now all enjoy a fair and thrilling duel between him and Tommy Searle for the rest of the summer as they go head-to-head for the MX2 world title.
As for the mindless vigilantes who have been threatening to give Jeffrey a hard time at Matterley in August, they should bear in mind that Tommy has to go to Lierop a fortnight LATER ! And if his 2011 performance in Hampshire is anything to go by Jeffrey doesn't need any "assistance" to screw up that particular weekend, so leave the kid alone !