Smets Takes First Pole

Paul Carruthers | May 15, 2004

The following release is from Suzuki…

Factory Suzuki rider Joel Smets took pole position for the Grand Prix of Benelux this afternoon; his first for the Belgian based team and the debut top spot for the RM-Z450.

The 35-year-old gunned the 450cc four-stroke around the sandy Lichtenvoorde course located in the East of Holland in the dying seconds of the 30 minute timed practice to secure pole by half a second from Honda’s Mickael Pichon.

The Belgian duo of Smets and Kevin Strijbos were continually among the fastest riders throughout free practice under blue skies with warm temperatures. The last minute of the chrono saw Smets gain but Strijbos lose out as the 19 year old slipped from fourth to eighth in the usual final shuffle of the classification.

Joel Smets- Pole position: 2:01.285

“I not really a pole position addict! The whole deal is about Sunday, not Saturday. I won’t say that I am not happy about the fastest time but it does not mean so much to me. With my first GP win I qualified 12th on Saturday and took the victory the next day! Of course it is a sign that I am getting better and more confident with the bike. I felt more comfortable on my two last laps, which were my fastest, than the rest of the session. My riding was good in the first two practices but I struggled at the start of qualifying because I had walked the track after the MX2 period and I saw the circuit had changed and I would have to switch my lines. It took me quite a while to adjust and it got to a stage where I was getting a little nervous. We altered the bike though and I took my time to find my lines again. I went for it in the last five minutes and it worked out well.”

MX1 Timed Practice Classification:

1. Smets, Joel BEL Suzuki 2:01.285

2. Pichon, Mickael FRA Honda 2:01.723

3. Everts, Stefan BEL Yamaha 2:02.048

4. Ramon, Steve BEL KTM 2:02.301

5. Melotte, Cedric BEL Yamaha 2:02.417

6. Leok, Tanel EST Suzuki 2:02.632

7. Coppins, Joshua NZL Honda 2:02.656

8. Strijbos, Kevin BEL Suzuki 2:02.773

9. Burnham, Christian GBR KTM 2:02.940

10. Breugelmans, Sven BEL KTM 2:03.299

Paul Carruthers | Editor

Paul Carruthers took over as the editor of Cycle News in 1993 after serving as associate editor since starting his career at the publication in 1985. Carruthers has covered every facet of the sport in his near-28-year tenure at America's Daily Motorcycle News Source.