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Point of Debate: MX1 Rookies

In the 2013 FIM Motocross World Championship there has been an influx of rookies entering the MX1 class, as they have been bumped out of the (smaller) MX2 division as a result of the age restriction rule enforced by both Youthstream and the FIM. In the past I have been quite vocal when criticising the rule, as it forces riders (that are sometimes not ready for the move up) into the fierce premier division – MX1. I conducted an article on the rule around this time last year, stating that it was unfair to Tommy Searle, Jeremy Van Horebeek and Joel Roelants also, as they still had a lot to give on the 250f. So, shall we look at how those three riders are getting on in the MX1 class after eight rounds of competition?

In the 2013 FIM Motocross World Championship there has been an influx of rookies entering the MX1 class, as they have been bumped out of the (smaller) MX2 division as a result of the age restriction rule enforced by both Youthstream and the FIM. In the past I have been quite vocal when criticising the rule, as it forces riders (that are sometimes not ready for the move up) into the fierce premier division – MX1. I conducted an article on the rule around this time last year, stating that it was unfair to Tommy Searle, Jeremy Van Horebeek and Joel Roelants also, as they still had a lot to give on the 250f. So, shall we look at how those three riders are getting on in the MX1 class after eight rounds of competition?

Tommy Searle has stated in many places that he is not too bothered about where he finishes at the end of the season – he just wants to gain experience at each round. Presumably this is the goal for all of the rookies moving into the premier division (past and present), but it is an added bonus of course if you can garner a solid finish at the conclusion of the series. Prior to Ernée, I felt as though some fans were starting to doubt whether Tommy could challenge for podiums in the MX1 class. However, he did silence all of the doubters in the second moto at the French GP.

I personally consider him much more of a threat now. If he continues to progress like this, he may be creeping into the battle for the win by the end of the season, which would be great for the following year, as he would be able to apply that knowledge to the premier division.

Interestingly, Tommy Searle was not the only MX1 rookie to post some great results at Ernée this past weekend, as Jeremy Van Horebeek had his best ride ever on the 450f. Honestly I do consider the Belgian one of the greatest surprises in the premier division, this year. I thought that he would get lost in the depth of the MX1 class prior to the start of the season, however he has made some huge gains in recent weeks, which have resulted in him being much more of a threat to the top five. Obviously, Jeremy was fighting a finger injury earlier in the year. It hindered his performance slightly, but perhaps he was slightly fazed by the competition also?

It seems as though no one has noticed Jeremy Van Horebeek and his gradual rise in form. His finishes of a fourth and a sixth (for fifth overall) at Ernée were very impressive. I feel as though the ceiling for a guy like Jeremy is fifth overall, I really cannot see him getting onto the box in the second half of the season. If he did I would consider it a shock. Still he has been getting a bit better each week, the next step for him would be the podium, surely? If he keeps posting top five results, I presume the team would be happy with that. After all, Van Horebeek is the second rider on that KRT team, so he was hired just to put the bike in the top five. I did think that being forced to move up to MX1 would hurt the Belgian and his career, but he has adapted well I feel.

Although being forced to move to the premier division has seemingly not had too much of a negative affect on Tommy Searle or Jeremy Van Horebeek, Joel Roelants has really struggled thus far this year. In 2012, Roelants broke through in the MX2 class for the first time. So, this year would have probably been good for him if he could have stayed on the smaller bike. But instead he was chucked into the MX1 class, where he has struggled since round one really. It seems that most have forgotten that the Belgian dislocated his hip at the British GP last year, so he would of come into his rookie 450f season lacking some preparation. However he must be one-hundred-percent now, and he has completed enough rounds to learn about his bike.

Joel Roelants had his best ride back at the second round of the series, Thailand. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider finished with a tenth and a seventh in the two motos there, for seventh overall. Since then Roelants has had just one moto finish inside of the top ten. Although I did not expect him to be as good as his fellow rookies, I thought that he would have a handful of flashes of brilliance; but we just haven’t seen that. Joel crashed at Arco di Trento and injured his shoulder also, however that too is fully recovered now. Really Roelants should be making some progress now, but he is not.

The French GP at Ernée was a low point for Joel, as he just got into the top fifteen overall in the MX1 class. Joel did have the last gate pick for the two points paying races, however he is expected to be able to push further through the pack than just sixteenth and fourteenth. It seems as though Joel is struggling with bike setup, which is more than likely a direct result of him missing a portion of the winter with that femur injury. In my opinion he will have to step it up by the end of the year, otherwise he could find himself on a considerably smaller squad next year, where it will be even harder to breakout.

At this point it does seem as though the age restriction rule that is enforced in the MX2 class has had a negative affect on Joel Roelants’ career. Of course, there is a lot of time for him to improve. But these initial results are what people are going to remember, as he has failed to make too much of an impression. Whilst both Tommy Searle, and Jeremy Van Horebeek are moving forward and making progress, Joel seems to be going backwards. There will be even more MX2 riders bumped up to the MX1 class next year, so the field will be even more stacked, which will make it harder for the sophomores to make an impact, as well as the rookies.

Words by Lewis Phillips

Image courtesy of Yamaha Racing

MX Vice Editor || 25

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