Interview: Joel Roelants on working with Jacobi and Polak at JM Honda

Joel Roelants has landed another coaching role after previously being with the DIGA-Procross team and this time he’s back with a team he knows very well – the JM Honda team. Roelants raced with the team for many years and also coached there in the past.

Things have been different for the JM team recently after making the switch to Honda but Roelants will work with Henry Jacobi and Petr Polak to try and take them to the next level.

We caught up with Roelants to discuss his role and more.

GateDrop: Joel, you’ve landed a training role with the JM Honda team and will work together with Henry Jacobi and Petr Polak for 2022. First of all, how did the deal all come around?

This article continues below

Roelants: Jacky (Martens) give me a call at the end of last year in around November I think. He wasn’t sure about which riders he’d have yet but he asked me first about Jacobi because he thinks and I think also that he can still improve – especially physically. That is how we started, he give me a call, we kept contact and it went from there.

GateDrop: Obviously you rode for JM KTM for many years, it must be back with the team in a different role? You must have a good connection with Jacky Martens?

Roelants: I rode many years with JM but I was already with the team when they ran Husqvarna in MX2. I trained many years Thomas Covington when he was with Jacky so we had good success with him – many podiums and a couple of GP wins. We know how to work together, I know my place in the team and I know what Jacky expects from me.

GateDrop: It’s obviously a short off season this year but what’s it been like working with Jacobi and Polak so far and what are they like to be around?

Roelants: Yeah, it’s been a really short season and I needed all the time we had to put in the work with Jacobi and Polak. I only started with Polak half way through December but with Henry I started at the beginning of December. The season is long so I would like them to improve during the season as well, we won’t be 100% ready but we will be close to it and I hope we can progress the whole way through the season, this is what we work for.

The two riders couldn’t be anymore opposite (laughs). Henry doesn’t give a sh*t about anything and Polak says thank you every three minutes but both of them are nice people. I try to create a good atmosphere in the team while we go training and we feel good together. Until now it has been really nice.

GateDrop: For the 2022 season, what are your expectations for them both?

This article continues below

Roelants: I don’t really put any expectations but I would like both of them to take maximum from themselves. I am just here to help them physically and mainly with that. Most of the time I will just go to practices with them, I won’t go to the GP’s as I do the Belgian commentary on TV. With a good preparation, I think for Henry a lot is possible and I hope that Polak can make a steady progression this season.

GateDrop: I feel like Jacobi has a lot of speed but perhaps sometimes needs to slow down to go faster, have you been working on his technique of riding the bigger bike?

Roelants: I also feel that Jacobi has a lot of speed but it’s like you say sometimes he’s too much on the clutch and on the brake. I also think when he gets tired that he should ride different but I don’t think physically he was at 100% in the past I think. We work hard and he’s doing everything he can. Sometimes on the bigger bike going more clean and using less energy makes you go faster so in his case that’s a possibility as well.

GateDrop: Polak seems to go under the radar in the MX2 World Championships but he battles for the top fifteen spots and hasn’t had a great team up until this points – this is his big chance!

Roelants: With Polak, I think last year the team he was in was a struggle and they didn’t treat him well. He needs to get some more confidence and I think if his bike is good and he gains confidence that it can be good, I am 100% sure. Hopefully he can make steady progress, if he can be there at the beginning that will help too as that’s his weakness at the moment. It takes him a lot of track time to get him up to speed so we will see.

Interview: Andy McKinstry