Joel Roelants comes into the Monster Energy Yamaha team for his first season in the premier MX1-GP class as one of the leading racers in the MX2-GP category for the past four years.
The Belgian – a former Junior World Champion and son of an ex-racer – makes the step onto the YZ450FM after reaching the age limit of 23 and full of promise for the bigger bike after sealing his maiden MX2-GP victory last summer in Latvia. Roelants has long been held as the main symbol of hope for the next generation of Belgian motocross after the glory days associated with the likes of Everts, Bervoets, Smets and Ramon. His progress was swift after an impressive debut season in 2008 during which he wasted no time at all in seizing his first podium finish. In 2009 and 2010 he progressed further, rising up the championship standings while improving his fitness and capabilities across the range of terrain and circuits found in the FIM World Championship. Dutch Championships and Motocross of Nations representation were also highlights of a young career towards the end of the decade. Injury blighted his 2011 campaign but he was strong off the mark in 2012 with two rostrum finishes in the opening two rounds. That historic win in Latvia – the first for Belgium in MX2 – was a milestone as the championship would again finish prematurely. Despite being forced to miss the final three Grands Prix Joel would still pick up sixth in the final points table.
Renowned for his determination and resolute approach to his training, Roelants is also an approachable and light-hearted individual with a lot of potential for his rookie MX1-GP attempt on the YZ450FM.