Joel Smets is looking forward to returning to one of his favourite motocross destinations in the world when he lines up for the Motocross Grand Prix of England on the Isle of Wight in August.
The former world champion, who thrilled 18,000 fans at the pre-season
Hawkstone International last weekend, hopes his British fans will turn out in their thousands to cheer him on at the Gore Basin circuit near Arreton on August 27-28. The Corona Suzuki rider can't wait until the GP comes around as he regards Britain as a second motocross home behind his native Belgium.
Smets is also a long-time friend of the Chamberlain family and has given his support to Mark Chamberlain whose company, 4E Promotions, is promoting the GP. "England is probably my favourite country to race, along with Belgium and some of the Scandinavian countries because these are the countries where motocross really started," said Smets.
"This country, like Belgium, it breeds motocross history. The atmosphere, how people enjoy motocross, is still a lot different to a lot of other countries. That makes it more enjoyable for the riders."
Smets first raced in England in 1990 and returned to Hawkstone Park a year
later where he took fourth place in the 500 GP on a privateer Honda.
He said: "That was really the takeoff of my career. Thanks to British
motocross I made another step up on my career. I have many more nice memories of racing in England.
"The people appreciate, even if you are from a foreign country, if you are doing well and if you are putting up a great show."
Smets could not race at last year's Isle of Wight GP at Gore Basin as the
pain from a cruciate knee ligament injury proved too much.
But now he is fully recovered he is full of anticipation about this year's
race. "I really liked the track when I saw it but that day I was in so much pain and I couldn't really enjoy the race. The layout of the track is really nice."
Smets also wants to see the GP go well for the promoter who he has known for a number of years. "I have a lot of respect for Mark because I've seen him coming to the races since he was a little kid.
"He's still very young but he's ambitious and he is going for it. It's a
little bit like me when I started racing, I was young and had a lot of hard work in front of me but still went for it 100%.
"It's good that he does the race because otherwise there would be no race." To that end Smets hopes you will join him and the MX1 and MX2 riders on the Isle of Wight at the end of August. For more details on buying tickets, how to get to the race and other important information log onto the GP website at ?Ma href="http://www.iowmxgp.com" target="blank"> www.iowmxgp.com.