Suzuki ready for Portuguese MX1
The third round of the FIM MX1 World Championships follows hot on the heels of the Spanish Grand Prix as the teams currently make their way west across the Iberian Peninsula to Portugal and the Agueda circuit.
Team Suzuki have now scored two motos wins from four in the 2005 campaign thanks to Joel Smets, who has also climbed the Overall Podium with two third positions at the opening races. The 36 year old sits second in the early World Championship standings four points behind Mickael Pichon.
Kevin Strijbos will be looking to rejuvenate his season after pain from damaged ankle ligaments has now subsided. The 18 year old will be keen to erase the memories of Bellpuig on Sunday where he couldn’t get to grip with the track and suffered one of his worst outings on the RM-Z450.
Motovision Suzuki Racing’s Yoshitaka Atsuta will also be eager to forget the Spanish Grand Prix after technical problems led to a double DNF.
Agueda is set to host its second consecutive Grand Prix event. A former regular on the 250cc calendar, various modifications were made to the course so that it may return to the World Championship schedule for 2004. The circuit is situated roughly 80 kilometres from the city of Porto and the track itself is based within a woodland setting just 3 kilometres from the town.
The distinctive red mud is not a happy hunting ground for the team. This time 12 months ago, Smets, with broken ligaments in his right knee, crashed in both motos forcing a DNF and a top finish of 11th place. Strijbos breached the leaderboard but could only rise as high as sixth.
The weather forecast for the weekend is not good with showers predicted over both days.
Joel Smets:”Agueda is more or less the same as Bellpuig. Some places on the track are a little bit softer. I remember last year it was very rutty because it had been raining all week. The track was virtually new because it had been changed a lot. New mud had been bought in and it hadn’t compact properly so this made the ruts even deeper. It was very difficult for me last year with my knee injury but it will be different this weekend. The terrain will look different from 2004 and so will I! I hope things turn out well and we can continue our good run.”
Kevin Strijbos: “I had some bad starts in Spain and I found it difficult to pass on that track. I just couldn’t get going. Agueda is a bumpy circuit and is definitely better when it is dry. I know that I have to work on the first part of my race. The first 15 minutes are costing me at the moment because the gaps become too big before I can get in my rhythm. I want to get focussed for Portugal; get out of the gate better; and hopefully get near the top five at least.”
MX1 World Championship standings (after two rounds): 1 Pichon 84, 2 Smets 80, 3 Everts 80, 4 Townley 78, 5 Coppins 61, 6 Strijbos 48, 7 Ramon 45, 8 Noble 43, 9 Cooper 42, 10 Ken de Dijcker 40.
Info Team Suzuki Press Office, photo copyright Ray Archer