One of Belgium’s most exciting young racers, Joel Roelants, will be a factory Monster Energy Yamaha rider in the premier MX1-GP class of the FIM Motocross World Championship for 2013 and aligns with Steven Frossard and also Christophe Charlier in the Rinaldi-run section of the works squad.
The Italian crew will welcome the 2012 MX2 Grand Prix of Latvia winner for what will be his rookie season in the MX1 ranks and his first on the formidable YZ450FM; a motorcycle that took David Philippaerts to World Championship glory in his first term in 2008 and Steven Frossard to second place in the world in 2011 for what was the Frenchman’s first attempt at the series.
Roelants steps into MX1 after reaching the age ceiling of 23 years for MX2; a division where he has been learning his Grand Prix trade for the past four years and 2012 saw his best campaign yet with three podium results (including that first career victory in Latvia, ensuring he was one of a small group of just three riders to walk the top step of the rostrum from sixteen events in ‘12) until his unlucky incident at the British Grand Prix in August when he was hit by another rider in practice and suffered a dislocated hip.
Roelants underwent a successful operation on the joint two weeks ago and will now start his programme of rehab and light fitness work that will build up to aquatherapy and cycling until he will be able to test and finesse the YZ450FM at the end of December.
“The doctors were really happy with the operation,” he said. “After two days I was able to walk with crutches and I’ve already started full-time rehab and some activities like the exercise bike. I will have to keep a lot of weight off the joint for another week or so but after that I hope it will be full speed ahead.”
“I’m really excited to be a Monster Energy Yamaha rider for next year…it just sucks a bit at the moment that I cannot start working with the guys right away! I will work my way back up to speed and I’m looking forward to the day I can start to test already.”
Frossard is already confirmed to steer the other YZ450FM for a third year in a row and the twenty-five year old will soon start to test the all-new RInaldi developed parts for next season. Another returning element of the team will be Christophe Charlier (21 years old) who will again saddle the YZ250FM fuel injected prototype in MX2-GP. The former European and Italian Champion was in rapid form during pre-season but injuries affected his first term as part of the Italian unit. A maiden GP podium finish in the mud of Brazil was a highlight and hinted at the Corsican’s potential. Now fully back in flight and currently testing in Italy Charlier has even more motivation to demonstrate his obvious talent.
“We’ve seen David and Steven come into the team and enjoy success right away and after Steven allowed a great many people to see his skill and speed as a racer once he climbed on the MX1 bike, we hope a similar effect will happen with Joel who shares many of the same characteristics,” said Michele Rinaldi. “We are talking about two very fit, determined and ‘hungry’ young athletes and these attributes are so important with the MX1 class becoming so competitive. We were really happy with the way Christophe prepared for 2012 so –Brazil aside – it was very unfortunate he never got a chance to show the speed he displayed in tests and pre-season. I think he will cause some surprises in 2013 where some added experience and maturity will count heavily in his favour.”