Team Suzuki barely had time to clean and prepare the RM-Z450 machines after St Jean D'Angely last weekend before having to travel to northern Europe and the town of Uddevalla for the Grand Prix of Sweden, the 10th round of a long 2005 FIM MX1 Motocross World Championship.
Joel Smets is keen to recover the points he lost during an incident-packed French race due to a broken exhaust and two crashes in the second moto. The Belgian had been second in the World Championship standings prior to St Jean but his 10th-place finish under the hot sunshine means that he has now slipped to fifth position and trails Honda's Josh Coppins by 20 points.
Kevin Strijbos endured another tough Grand Prix in only his second outing since recovering from thrombosis of the left arm. The 19 year old is looking to improve his speed and raise his confidence and the trip to Uddevalla is well timed as the Belgian secured the second of his two moto career victories at the race last year.
Both Suzuki riders have sampled victory in Sweden which bodes well for the second GP inside a week before the World Championships enjoys a break and then embarks on the long haul to South Africa in the middle of July.
Uddevalla has established itself as the premier GP venue in Sweden and has entertained the FIM series every year since 2001. Although the course itself has come under some criticism in recent years for its lack of lines and tough dirt - not helped by some inclement weather in seasons past - the Swedish GP is normally a well-run and well-supported event. The track is fast with many gradients and 2005 will be the last year for the present layout as major alterations are planned for 2006.
Sweden has a long and distinguished history in the sport and is one of the very few countries to have consistently hosted a Grand Prix since the 1950s. The Uddevalla circuit is located just over 150km north of Gothenburg. Interestingly the GP this week also has the very first FIM Women's Cup scheduled as a support race.
The weather forecast for Uddevalla predicts another warm and sunny weekend.
"Uddevalla is a nice track but it is tricky also because it has a mixed soil. There are some very hard parts with some soft mud underneath. You end up with square edged holes like curbstones and some difficult bumps. It is another physical track but the GP is usually great. I love Scandinavia and I'm looking forward to Sweden; I need to take back some good points. Otherwise this week I have been taking it easy and recovering from St Jean."
"It has been a bad season so far and I just want to make the best of it. I chose to come back early and although I'm slowly improving it is hard mentally to cope with this level of performance. I have been training this week but not too hard because last Sunday was a very physical race. My confidence is pretty low at the moment and the team and everybody keeps supporting me but in that first moto in France I wasn't there. It was like I had forgotten how to ride. I did slightly better in the second moto, which made me feel OK but the whole French GP did not turn out how I expected. We go to Sweden now and Uddevalla is a fast track and maybe that will be slightly easier on my arm. I really hope it stays dry there this year!"
MX1 World Championship Standings (after nine rounds): 1 Stefan Everts 375. 2 Joshua Coppins 316. 3 Ben Townley 304. 4 Mickael Pichon 299. 5 Joel Smets 296. 6 Steve Ramon 232. 7 Brian Jorgensen 164. 8 James Noble 160. 9 Pascal Leuret 159. 10 Ken de Dijcker 148. 11 Danny Theybers 141. 16 Yoshitaka Atsuta 114. 22 Kevin Strijbos 55.
Source: Team Suzuki Press Office