Interview: Joel Roelants discusses Mc Lellan, Brumann & Jacobi
One person that knows plenty about the good and bad of our sport is Joel Roelants who has experienced both during his time as a Grand Prix rider. The Belgian is now a trainer and for the 2023 season will work closely with Camden Mc Lellan, Kevin Brumann and Henry Jacobi as well as other riders.
Even though Mc Lellan is currently in South Africa whilst trying to sort out his visa, he has already started using a training programme put together by Roelants.
We caught up with Roelants to discuss Mc Lellan, Brumann, Jacobi and more ahead of the 2023 Motocross season.
GateDrop: Joel, JM Honda have signed Camden Mc Lellan for 2023 and you’ll be working closely with him as a trainer. When you see him race what stands out which could see him have a good future?
Roelants: It stands out that on every track he can be good. He is quite consistent at every track already so it’s not really one thing that stands out as such but I think his consistency and being able to race good at every track is a good strong point to have. Now he has to get better at each point a little bit and then I think he has a good future. Speed wise, physically and maybe the bike a little too but when it all comes together I think he can be really fast.
GateDrop: He is a former EMX85 champion so he clearly has bags of talent but that on it’s own is not enough in this sport – it’ll be important for him to work hard to achieve his goals and I guess that’s where you will come in and try to help…
Roelants: Like you say, on the 85cc you can see he already has talent but on the other side some riders at that age hasn’t raced that much yet whilst others have raced since they were really young. We can not pay too much attention to that and also bike wise some guys have standard ones and some already have full gas tuned bikes. But for sure it is a good thing he has this title already, it is a positive. The real racing starts only after the 85cc though I think like on the 125cc, that’s where they have to really improve and make the difference. He has been able to do that during the last years so it’s good.
GateDrop: He will make the move up to the MX2 World Championship after finishing fourth in the EMX250 series this year. The level of the EMX250 series is so high these days I don’t think it is as hard to make the step up to MX2 this days as it used to be but there’s so many guys the same speed in MX2 starts are important… Would you agree with that?
Roelants: I think this is true. I think mainly MX2 it is quite expensive to enter a race and there’s no prize money. Many riders choose to step back to EMX250 to try and win races or do podiums to show themselves for the next year to try and get into an MX2 team. I think it is good that EMX250 is there for riders to show themselves. I think that it is a shame that some guys don’t race MX2 because it is too expensive and they’d rather stay in EMX250. It is a step in the right direction that the entry fees in MX2 has went down. Of course it would still be better if there was prize money but I don’t think the step is that big. In EMX250 you have a less deep of a field and MX2 is much deeper so the start is more important. Also at the front they are going quite a bit faster so you still need some time to adjust but it should be possible to directly be top fifteen.
GateDrop: What do you think Camden can achieve racing the MX2 World Championship in 2023? Obviously it is his rookie year so continuing to grow and improving will be the main goal…
Roelants: I can’t really answer that yet because I am only working with him physically. He should have been here at the start of November already but because of visa problems he is still in South Africa. We are in contact, I make his schedules but it is difficult to say what his capacities are. I need to work with him at the track to see what his ultimate goal will be. We will try to get the best out of it and see where we end up.
GateDrop: You will also be Kevin Brumann’s trainer in 2023 who has signed with JK Yamaha – one of the youngest riders in MXGP and it wasn’t that long he was battling with Everts in the EMX125 class! What do you see in him that you think can lead to a good future?
Roelants: Indeed, Brumann is quite young to be racing MXGP but he has showed in the past he has good speed and technique. I think if he continues to do everything right in the next months that he can continue to grow and that is the main thing for him I think. He showed some class already but he needs to get more fit, he is really motivated but he can still make a few steps.
GateDrop: Most riders Brumann’s age race MX2 instead but he decided to make the jump up to MXGP, do you think that is a good decision for him so he can build for the future? This year he did score some decent points…
Roelants: I think with Brumann that it is a good decision to race MXGP. We’ve seen with some riders in the past like Desalle going into MXGP at a young age already and for him it worked out. Of course it is up to him to show it is a good decision now but he is quite big and his style suits the 450cc. For sure he can have a good future in MXGP.
GateDrop: I believe you’ll also continue to work with Henry Jacobi – his goals will change as he’ll focus on the ADAC MX Masters but do some selected MXGP. Do you think moving back to Sarholz KTM is a good move for him and in the GP’s he does race next year he’ll want to put himself in the shop window for an MXGP ride again in the future…
Roelants: I think for Henry it is a good decision to race the ADAC MX Masters. I think he will be happy racing at home and I’ve been doing his programme over the winter. I think he will be super motivated to prove himself in some MXGP races. For sure he has good speed but this year not everything worked out as he had some injuries and a bit too much pressure on himself. For him to do this programme, I think it can help him to get back on track. If he is happy and continues with this programme then he can do some good results.
Interview: Andy McKinstry