With Joel Smets starting a six-month recovery from a dislocated knee, Team Suzuki appear to have announced his replacement with the news that former 125cc world champion Steve Ramon will join the team for the 2006 MX1 World Championship, after signing a two-year deal.

The Belgian scored second position in the Grand Prix of Germany last Sunday for KTM and finished fourth in the world last season - his first in the MX1 class after claiming the 125cc - now MX2 - crown in 2003. However, Ramon has been regularly beaten by team-mate Ben Townley this season.

"Of course I am really happy to join Suzuki," he remarked. "I needed some new motivation and it is really practical for me that the team is based in Belgium."

Ramon will share the Team Suzuki awning with current rider Kevin Strijbos, with former multiple world champion Smets now expected to either retire or move to a privateer team.

"Kevin is a good rider and I feel that we can learn a lot from each other through practicing together and working with the RM-Z. We will be a young team, but a strong one," said Steve.

"Bringing Steve on board is a good move for the future of the team," said team manager Jens Johansson. "For 2006 we have two talented young riders who are more than capable of scoring excellent results in the premier-class.

"We will see some of the older stars at the peak of the sport walk away from the world championship in the next two years and Team Suzuki will be ideally placed with two major names of the next generation.

"Signing Steve alongside Kevin, means that we have a talented, dedicated and promising pair of riders who are crucial to the continuing development of the RM-Z 450."



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