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5 Minutes with... Joel Roelants

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Belgium’s Joel Roelants turned a lot of American heads at the Motocross des Nations. His results weren’t the best when all was said and done, but he was fast all weekend, and has style like you wouldn’t believe. In the press conference after the race, he got the room talking when he said he wasn’t happy with third place for his team, even though Joel Smets said he should be. It was one of those moments where it was easy to realize that he’s going to go somewhere with an attitude like that. We talked to him after the press conference.

Racer X: You looked really good out there in practice, and you were fast in the races, but stuff happened. You have a very loose sort of American style, with the scrubs and the whips. It seems like it would be suited to supercross and that type of stuff. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Joel Roelants: Yeah, I really want to thank you for saying that, because when we got on the Belgium team, we had to fill out a questionnaire and one of the questions was about what was my weakest point, and I put a month ago that my scrubs are my weakest point, so I went out and practiced on the hard pack and tried to improve my scrubs, and like you said, I guess they have become better, so I’m really happy you said that. I hope I can improve much more in the winter and come out really fast next year.

I think Belgium’s been on the podium every year for 20-some years...
Yeah, it’s no stress for me to keep up with this because I came here to win, but maybe it wasn’t within our possibilities. But you have to go for the win, otherwise you should stay home, I think. It’s good that we were on the podium, but third place is third place...

I saw you go for that triple early on in practice yesterday, the one after the finish line, and no other MX2 guys were even thinking of trying it yet. You’re a jumper, aren’t you?
Yeah, a little bit. I’m never scared, but that can play against me also, because in the past I’ve had some injuries because of jumping, so I think a little bit more and try to be a little bit more safe and maybe take another line and be almost as fast, but not take such a big risk.

What did you expect from this race, having the AMA guys racing?
Yeah, I expected that the difference between first and sixth wasn’t going to be very big because I’ve been following the Nations for a long time already, and I think it’s one of the first years where there were six really strong teams, and all six were able to win, so considering that it was good that we were on the podium, but at the same time, we could’ve maybe been first – or maybe sixth, I guess. But it was a good effort by America. They did a really good job and I want to congratulate them on a good race.

How old are you?
I’m 20 now.

What are your career goals moving forward?
I want to win as much as possible! I haven’t won a GP yet, but I hope it’s not going to take very long, and I think I improved a lot over the last year or two, and that’s the most important thing. As long as you see that you’re improving and you’re moving forward, it’s good. I didn’t start motocross as early as most of my competitors, but I think I’m growing and we’ll see in time how it ends up for me.

How old were you when you started?
I just got my first bike when I was seven, but I didn’t race until I was 12 or 13, then we started doing maybe 15 or 20 races a year. When I was 15, we went for it, and we went almost every weekend.

That’s only five years ago!
Yeah, but before, I did race some important races, but I didn’t do it very often. I think I’ve been at the top level for where I was for six or seven years.

Have you given any thought to racing supercross?
Yeah, for sure. I hope I can go to America this winter and train in supercross because I think it’s great for technique, supercross is. I think it will improve my riding. Also, in the future, I want to race in the US, and I need to be good at supercross to do that.
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