Daryl Beattie confident of competitive start to Australian Safari
THURSDAY, AUGUST 16: Former 500cc grand prix motorcycle rider Daryl Beattie is confident of making a competitive off-road racing debut in Alice Springs on Saturday after inspecting the Prologue course which opens the Australian Safari international cross country rally in the Northern Territory.
Beattie, who finished runner-up to fellow-Australian Michael Doohan in the 500cc world championship in 1995, said today the 6km Prologue course would not test his inexperience in rallying as much as the following longer stages in the 4,426km course from Alice Springs to Darwin.
The 30-year-old from the Gold Coast later undertook a lengthy training ride on his factory-supported Michelin-O'Neal Honda XR650 and said he would face a much stronger challenge in the 775km opening leg on Sunday from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock Resort.
"The Prologue is a short, sharp sprint more like the type of racing I've been used to, apart from the fact it's on dirt, so I think I'll go okay there," said Beattie.
"It's going to be completely different the next day with the long ride to Ayers Rock (Resort)."
"I've been out on the bike training and the terrain around here is pretty tough for someone like me with no experience in this type of racing."
"It's a long way to Darwin, but I'm looking forward to getting stuck into it and to see what I can do. I've been doing a lot of riding in the last few weeks and my preparation has been good."
Beattie, who retired from road racing in 1997 because of injuries, spent part of his training ride today familiarising himself with his onboard navigation equipment.
"Trying to ride and read maps at the same time is the hardest thing, and it could take a day or two to get on top of it," he said.
Beattie is part of a powerful Honda assault in the Safari's Moto Division, which is a round of the Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM) cross country rallies World Cup. Other leading Honda-mounted riders include 1999 Safari champion Stephen Greenfield, from the Northern Territory, American Casey McCoy, who was runner-up in 2000, and Dubai-based Briton Steve Blackney.
Their main opposition is expected from defending champion Andrew Caldecott, from South Australia, and London-based Queenslander Andrew Coaker, both riding KTM Rallye 660 machines, and 35-year-old Tony Tervoert from Tanunda on a Husqvarna TE-E 610.
Defending Auto Division champion Bruce Garland, from NSW, tested his new Holden Rally Team Jackaroo near Alice Springs today. His team-mate, nine-times Bathurst 1000 winner Peter Brock also had a test drive to evaluate his Jackaroo.
"So far so good," said Brock. "We're still doing a little fine tuning to make the Jackaroo ride the bumps better, but overall I think we can do pretty well and play a role in a strong Holden result."
The Northern Territory Government is supporting the Safari for the third successive year. The event is owned and produced by Octagon Worldwide, the sports marketing and entertainment division of the Interpublic Group, one of the world's largest marketing and communications groups.