Albee honoured in South Africa

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Former three times World Champion Greg Albertyn has picked up a Lifetime Achievement award from the South African Department of Sport in recognition of his titles – including the AMA National crown in 1999 – and promotion of South African motocross internationally. ‘Albee’ retired through persistent injury problems four years ago and chose his first ever home GP in which to mark his farewell performance. He won the second of his 250cc World Championships in 1994 while riding for the factory Suzuki team under the guidance of Sylvain Geboers.

Q: Greg, how did this ride come about?


GA: I was very happy to be able to race this Grand Prix. There has been one other GP in South Africa and that was twenty years ago. I have only raced twice here since I turned professional and the fans have not been able to watch me ride or anything like that. I thought that this race would be a great opportunity and I was planning on attending anyway so I thought I might as well participate! Sylvain was very kind to offer me a bike and has put on a first class show; the bike is awesome and I am very happy.


Q: What do you think of the RM-Z 450?


GA: It is a very easy bike to ride. I have probably spent about half an hour on a 450 in my entire life! Friday was my first time and I was surprised at how quickly I could adapt. It is super fast but the power is so smooth and deliverable; it does not feel like you are going that quickly. I know that Suzuki had some teething problems at the beginning but they have come a long way. I am impressed and I think Ricky Carmichael is going to be very happy next year.


Q: How did you prepare for this weekend?


GA: I have been burning the candle at both ends for the last five weeks! I pretty much work full-time in real estate and I am now trying to be a professional motocross rider at the same time so it is very tough. I have been training for five weeks but I haven’t raced professionally for four years.


Q: It is perhaps a bit unfair to ask at this flyaway event but has the GP paddock and series changed much in your eyes?


GA: I think the World Championships have changed and it is not hard to see. There are a lot of positives. It definitely seems more professional and has less of a ‘local club’ aspect to it, more global. I have heard about a lot of negatives as well. I wont go into those right now but I think the most important thing with our sport is to give the young up-and-coming riders an opportunity. I remember when I first arrived at the World Championships; if you were fast you could enter, show up, qualify and then be a part of the Grand Prix, I know things are very different now and it is not so simple and that is unfortunate because I think a lot of young talent is being cut out.


Q: Was this the last appearance for you or is there a chance that you might return in the future?


GA: I would most probably say that this is the finale. Every year you spend out of professional competition the harder it gets and I’m 31 now and the numbers keep climbing fast! This was purely a fun deal for me. I have nothing to prove and it was just a chance to be back with my old team racing in South Africa and I enjoyed it.


Q: What are your plans now away from motocross?


GA: I don’t think people realise how tough it is for a professional athlete to retire and then figure out what he wants to do with his life because his whole identity is caught up in the sport and being ‘that’ particular rider. When you call it a day you find yourself asking, ‘who am I?’ I have been fortunate to find something that I am passionate about with the real estate business, building houses, office blocks and things like that so this is the next stage of my life and I’m very happy about it.


Info – Photo (C) Suzuki Racing

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