Joel Roelants is a 25-year-old Honda MXGP rider living in Grobbendonk, Belgium. The 2014 season should have been the year of his comeback in the MXGP class. Together with his father, Joel started his own J-Race Racing Team at the beginning of the season.

But following a crash in Maggiora, Italy, Joel suffered from a major fracture of the vertebral column, with permanent damage to the spinal cord.

On first waking after the injury Joel said: “I know what is going on. My decision has already been made: I will keep fighting.” And that fighting spirit has helped drive support for Joel on social media with many thousands of fans joining a Facebook group and the hash tag #supportJR being used frequently on Twitter.


The vertebrae that were damaged have now been skillfully stabilised during two surgical operations, one in Turin and one at the university hospital of Leuven, Belgium.

Although Joel is recovering well from the performed surgeries, the prognosis for the functional recovery of the nerves is not positive. Joel is a fighter and, together with his family and his girlfriend, he is already preparing for a different life, which will offer him the challenges he needs and will take on. The medical team will of course fully support Joel in these challenges.

Joel is grateful to all the people who sympathised with him and has a positive outlook on the months to come, which will undoubtedly be difficult. Joel is certain that he will remain the enthusiastic guy he has always been.

Strengthened by his immediate environment and an excellent medical staff, he promises to remain the central figure of a strong team.