Joel Roelants on Isak Gifting: He can be dangerous

As Joel Roelants had a coaching role with the Diga-Procross GasGas team last year it saw him working closely with the team’s riders.

Isak Gifting started out the season as a privateer in the EMX250 series but after injuries hit the GasGas MX2 team, the young Swede got the opportunity he’s been waiting for his whole career – an MX2 factory ride!

Gifting was somewhat of a revelation and surprised a lot of people consistently running at the front of a fast MX2 World Championship. Despite only racing half of the series he still managed to finish twelfth in the championship.

Roelants expected him to be fast but said things were difficult for Gifting at the beginning as he had to test equipment he wasn’t used too – that’s probably why he got better and better as he got more comfortable.

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“I expected him to be fast, at the beginning it was quite hard for him because he had to test a few things which he didn’t use on his KTM bike before. At the beginning he was searching and the first few days were difficult for him but I could see he was a fit rider. But when a fit rider isn’t feeling comfortable and he had a few crashes the first days, then the confidence can go away quite quickly. Because we started off quite difficult, I think I could have quite a good connection with him because I could help. It was really nice to work with him because if you have a good physique then you can make big training days and that’s exactly what we did. He improved a lot in the GP’s that he did, so I’m really satisfied with that”.

Gifting signing the contract for 2021! Pic: Diga-Procross GasGas

Watching Gifting ride is fun, he’s very aggressive and you can tell he leaves everything out there on the track. Now he knows he has the speed, if he can ride smoother and use less energy he could really surprise in 2021.

“If he can be smooth, he can be dangerous because he obviously had the pace but in the beginning that wasn’t really a problem. I could see during the practice when he rides completely free that he was a lot faster. My main job was to get him like that for the races, make him feel comfortable and for him not to think that just because he has a factory bike that he needs to ride top 8 or whatever. I told him that he just needed to go for it because he had the speed and he had to believe in it”.

“In Lommel I told him he had to go for the win, and he looked at me and said, “what do you mean go for the win”? (laughs). I said maybe you can win, you are really fit, these conditions suit you and I could also help him with a few other tips. I told him for the second moto to go for the win and even if you don’t win – if you finish second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth or even seventh that it’s still a good position. Everything he did was good, so he just needed to ride without stress. In the second race when he finished second, he just looked forward and not backwards anymore, it made a big difference for him. It was really nice to work with him”.

Last year being a fill in rider, Gifting was under no pressure but after earning the factory ride for the 2021 season, we will find out if he can manage with more expectations on his young shoulders. Roelants believes he can be a consistent top six rider.

“For Gifting, obviously he came in with no expectations in 2020 halfway through the season so everything was good. Now coming into the season, they will have more expectations so we will have to see how he deals with that but for sure he will work hard and try his very best. I think when he rides like he did in 2020 then he can be a consistent top six rider”.

Heading into the 2021 season, the MX2 World Championship is going to be exciting, Gifting clearly has a lot of talent and if he can stay consistent he could surprise many during the season ahead.

Article: Andy McKinstry

Main pic: Infront Moto Racing