Joel Smets in Melbourne
BMW Motorsport rider and Five-Times World Motocross Champion Joel Smets has arrived in Melbourne ahead of his appearance at the Australian Four-Day Enduro
BMW Motorsport rider and Five-Times World Motocross Champion Joel Smets has arrived in Melbourne ahead of his appearance at the Australian Four-Day Enduro. The Belgian Champion worked off his jet-lag by heading straight for a hearty mountain-bike ride just two hours after landing, accompanied by BMW Motorrad Australia Marketing Manager, Miles Davis.
This was followed up with a hard-charging work-out at an MX track on the all new BMW G 450 X competition enduro racer Smets will pilot in the A4DE, which starts in Warragul on Thursday. After the mid-morning rides, Smets a keen footie fan, headed to Docklands Stadium to watch Geelong beat St Kilda.
Smets, 39, will be making the BMW G 450 X’s southern hemisphere competition debut. The machine was flown in from Germany especially for the event. It is a stock production model aside from a competition exhaust system. “I took the blinkers and horn off, but essentially this is a stock bike,” Smets said. “All we still have to do is put the mousse into the tyres and we’re ready to race.”
“The G 450 X is a very different type of bike. It has fuel injection which means no rejetting is required, it has the fuel tank low under the seat, and the coaxial countershaft/swing arm pivot gives a constant chain length which means smoother power delivery. The most notable advantage the G 450 X offers is amazing traction. It does feel different to ride. The frame doesn’t go under the engine, and it has a lower centre of gravity, and the rear suspension works better.
Belgium’s ‘Sportsman of the Year’ in 2000 rode his first motorcycle at the relatively late age of 17, but in the intervening 22 years has won five Motocross World Championships as well as the Motocross of Nations three times, and he was Belgian national champion six times. In his career he won an astounding 57 Grands Prix.
“While it is always hard to win your first championship, it is even harder winning subsequent championships, because the competition knows you are the champion so they are always after you,” Smets said. Phenomenally fit in his championship winning years, Smets identified this physical fitness as a key to his success.
“I would train twice a day, six times a week for 11 months of the year, every year. There was no secret to what I was doing. It was just consistency. I always want to win, and that mental motivation has kept me going. It allowed me to play mental strength games with other competitors,” he said.
Smets officially retired from competition in 2006 and was looking forward to taking a year off to fix up his house and enjoy time with his family. But no sooner had he hung up his helmet than he was approached by BMW to work on the development of the new G 450 X, which began its competition carer as a prototype in early 2007.
“I was very surprised and happy that BMW had called me and I was more impressed when I saw the bike and heard their plans. I decided pretty much immediately that I would take the challenge. The concept looked so promising right from the start, and of course we have come a long way since then.”
The BMW G 450 X was entered in several rounds of the World Enduro Championship in 2007 and scored points on debut. It won its first event, a round of the German National Cross-Country Series late in 2007, and the BMW Motorrad Motorsport team has been campaigning a full season of WEC in 2008, with steady results early on.
“We’re still fine tuning the bike and because we started with a clean sheet there’s still some progressive changes to be made, but last year proved there is plenty of potential,” Smets said. “At the start of the year we didn’t know if we would be able to make the A4DE, but it’s good to be here. It will be very interesting to see how the G 450 X goes in these conditions and against the Australian and international riders taking part,” he said.
Joel Smets spent Monday evening meeting with a large group of fans at the Southbank BMW Motorrad dealership in Melbourne, before setting off for Warragul. The A4DE starts on Thursday 17 April 2008 in Warragul, Victoria and finishes on Sunday 20 April.
More information at www.a4de.com