Smets quits Suzuki for KTM

Five-times world champion Joel Smets has left the factory Suzuki team to join rivals KTM as Factory Racing Sports Director and will be involved with all the team’s factory stars.

KTM boss Pit Beirer says: “I’m pleased and proud that we have been able to bring a personality like Joel into this new position. I’m confident that he is going to lead our riders onto even greater things. Joel’s experience and his career achievements speak for themselves, and clearly he’s also a strong role model for both our senior and junior factory riders.”

Smets fills this newly-created position within the factory team structure and both Red Bull KTM factory team managers, Claudio de Carli in MXGP and Dirk Gruebel in MX2, welcome him onboard, says KTM. He will be in charge of overseeing planning, and will co-ordinate and facilitate training schedules. Smets will also be head of the race workshop in Belgium.

The MXGP, MX2 and KTM Junior teams will now share two comprehensive base camp facilities, one in Belgium and a second near Rome. Beirer said: “This new setup, along with Joel’s appointment, guarantee we have the very best of everything in Italy, Austria and Belgium.”

The move could point the way for a rumoured deal which could see Stefan Everts taking over the factory Suzuki team from the Geboers family. It’s believed Everts will move in to own the Suzuki team in a three-year hand-over period which will se the Geboers slowly hand over control.

Smets staying at Suzuki was thought to be a potential block to the move as it’s thought his role and Everts could clash. It’s likely to be a bit of a blow to Suzuki’s newly re-signed Kevin Strijbos who has seen Smets as a real mentor.
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