Christmas day 2012 will hold an important appointment for new Monster Energy Yamaha factory motocross racer Joel Roelants. The Belgian will throw his leg over a warm YZ450FM for the first time after making excellent progress in the wake of his recent hip operation. December 25th is the day that the 23 year old has marked as a Christmas present to himself after all the hard work and application towards his recovery. Roelants is the new boy in the works team and to the premier class – MX1 – of the FIM Motocross World Championship for 2013. He joins 2011 MX1 championship runner-up Steven Frossard on the distinctive black and green machines for an eagerly anticipated maiden attempt at one of the most competitive racing categories in world motorsport. Here the winner of the 2012 MX2 Grand Prix of Latvia and fresh MX1 ‘rookie’ tells us what he’s been up to and posing for his first pictures in his new team colours…
Joel, obvious question, how are you feeling and how is the build-up to be back on the bike?
JR: Quite good! I had a fitness text last Thursday and my level was really good, which I was glad to hear about. At the moment I have around 65% strength in my leg and I’m working on improving that in the next couple of weeks. I have been doing a lot of upper body training because this is an important stage of the year to be ready for next season. I’ll be on the 450 now so strength work has been key. All the hours you put in now will pay off when the racing starts and I’m really keen to get back into it. I feel like I have been away a long time!
So just a month to wait then?
JR: Yes, a few more weeks. December 25th is the day I have arranged. That is when I expect to be fully ready to start riding again. On Christmas day I will be in a camper at the track and as soon as it is first light then I will be up raring to go!
What kind of things will you be doing up until that day?
JR: I have a small gym at my house with all the equipment I need and I’m in there five times a week. Every day I am out cycling, whether on a mountain bike or Cyclocross – which is a popular sport we have here in Belgium – so I’m pretty busy. The weather here is actually quite good at the moment so if it stays dry then I’ll also be spending a bit of time working on my pit-bike track.
You must be keen to try the Yamaha…
JR: Absolutely. I’m anxious to be honest. It was good to do these photos and put the team clothes on and take delivery of the bike but it tests your patience!
Have you talked with the Monster Energy Yamaha team about testing and how you’d like the race bike to be?
JR: We’ve made plans but we haven’t talked in-depth about the bike yet. I think I will need to ride it and get used to it a little bit before I can start to work seriously on set-up. I can make comments to the guys about how I like the Yamaha to be for me but there is only so much information you can give until you start making the laps and going for the fast times. As for testing, like I said, at the end of the month I will start and will get some good sand riding done at maybe some places like Dunkirk and then in January we have programmed a month of work in Sardinia; so I’m looking forward to that.
Lastly what are your thoughts on the idea to run MX1 and MX2 together for overseas events and possibly for a final moto in 2014?
JR: If you are on an MX1 bike then it won’t be so bad and I think if you make a good start then it will be hard for the MX2 guys to overtake. If they do pass you then it is because they are faster on that particular day but I don’t think it will happen so much. It is something that could work for the overseas races simply because the gates tend to be smaller but for the majority of races there is no need. If we have to do it then of course it is something we need to adjust to.