Smets To South Africa

Paul Carruthers | July 14, 2005

The following release is from Suzuki…

Team Suzuki’s Joel Smets is currently making the long haul south to Sun City for the 11th round of the 2005 MX1 Motocross World Championship, the Grand Prix of South Africa, hoping that the birth of his new daughter last week will also welcome a fresh beginning in terms of race results on the RM-Z450.

The former five-time World Champion currently stands fourth in the MX1 title chase but has notched only one top three moto finish from four in the last two Grand Prix. The fourth and third positions captured at the Grand Prix of Italy in early June delivered the last overall podium for the 36 year old.

The Belgian welcomed Aileen into his family last week, several days after the GP of Sweden, but has only enjoyed the company of his daughter for four days before jetting to Johannesburg for his first visit to the country. The factory four-stroke machines have already been crated and sent.

Kevin Strijbos is on the mend after taking time away from the World Championships to heal properly due to some ill-effects from the thrombosis in his left arm and also to practice on the RM-Z450 in order to try and get back to Grand Prix pace. The 19 year old has been riding every two days and the team have been encouraged by his progress. He is due to make his first race appearance at a local event on Wednesday before his home round at Nismes on the last weekend of the month.

The entirely man-made circuit at Sun City, flanked on three sides by the enormous grandstands used for the annual prestigious golf tournament at the exclusive resort, will be hosting its second World Championship motocross event this weekend. The 2004 South African round was the first Grand Prix in the country for 18 years; it was also the winner of best GP award for that season.

The track, while spectacular and challenging in its layout, received some criticism for its unrelenting and rocky terrain and steps have been taken to improve the surface with renowned circuit designer Johnny Douglas Hamilton again being commissioned to lend his expertise.

The Grand Prix will be the second ‘flyaway’ of the campaign for the Belgian crew and the temporary paddock will see a scaled down version of the motocross travelling community.

A cool early season climate should welcome the teams and riders with the weather forecast predicting sunshine for both days.

Joel Smets:

“It’s been a busy week! I saw Sun City on the TV last year and have spoken to some people about it. The ground is supposed to be rock hard but I have heard that changes are being made for this weekend. It looks like an interesting track and I just hope that the strong wind that apparently was there on Friday and Saturday practice days last year isn’t around this time. I always enjoy new circuits and to take in some of the culture and country that we are visiting will be extra special this time. The second place we took at Sweden was an important step back in the right direction. I was feeling good all weekend in Uddevalla and I hope I have the same feeling straightaway in South Africa.”

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.