Mike Smith will no longer ride for Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki and has been replaced on the team’s Formula USA, Formula Xtreme and Superbike machines by Grant Lopez.
“When we won the 1990 Formula USA Championship with Mike Smith I felt he was the most talented rider I had ever worked with and that our team could win any title, anywhere, with him,” said Team Captain John Ulrich. “Since then he’s ridden for several other teams and I was certain that his return to Team Valvoline EMGO Suzuki for the 1998 season would produce spectacular results. Unfortunately, our team, mechanics and equipment could not meet Mike’s expectations and the results were less than spectacular. I’ve always liked Mike and respected his ability to ride a motorcycle. The entire team wishes Mike well.”
Smith was signed to the team when it became apparent that Lopez would need major knee surgery over the off-season. Fortunately, Lopez’s surgery was a success and he was ready to race at the start of the season. Lopez was initially re-assigned to support rider status but was promoted back to primary rider status with the departure of Smith.