In front of 20,000 freezing cold Belgian motocross fans, four-time World 500cc Motocross Champion Joel Smets won the first race of this year’s European MX season at the Koersel International Motocross in Belgium, February 11.
Smets went 2-1 taking the overall ahead of Yamaha-mounted Marnicq Bervoets, who went 1-2. Third place went to four-time World Motocross Champion Stefan Everts. Everts was making his first appearance on the Rinaldi Yamaha.
For KTM-mounted Smets, it was a perfect start to the season and a start he expected not to make.
"I'm really surprised," Smets said. "I have not spent that much time on the bike due to my operation last year. I was not thinking about winning here at all, just trying to get some time on the bike."
Bervoets, who many expected to win in Koersel, was not too disappointed and never expected Smets and Everts to be easy pickings.
"Joel is fit," Bervoets said. "He's been back long enough to be ready to race. As for Stefan, he is a very talented rider and his speed in training has been very good."
Everts, who was disappointed with his third place, he was happy to be back. Everts held second place in the first moto, only to see Smets pass him with a few corners remaining.
"I got really tired in the arms," Everts said. "I could hardly hang on in the first moto, then in the second race I took it easier and had a nice time."