DAY 1 REPORT: Alice Springs-Ayers Rock Resort
Total distance: 775km. Competitive distance: 554km (3 stages)


Former 500cc grand prix motorcycle rider Daryl Beattie today dislocated his left collarbone in a crash and was forced to withdraw from his off-road racing debut in the Australian Safari international cross country rally through the Northern Territory.

The 30-year-old from the Gold Coast was injured after being flung off his Michelin-O'Neal Honda XR650 near Kulgera during the middle stages of the opening leg over 775km between Alice Springs and Ayers Rock Resort. He had been in fourth position in the Moto Division at the time of the accident.

Beattie, runner-up to fellow-Australian Michael Doohan in the 500cc world championship in 1995, was treated by paramedics and then taken by ambulance to Yulara Medical Centre for x-rays. He later confirmed he would not be able to continue riding in the eight-day event over a 4,426km course from Alice Springs to Darwin

"I went into a dry creek bed too hot and looked down at the map reader a little too long," he said. "The front washed out and I was thrown off. I landed heavily on the shoulder. It's really disappointing because I'd been enjoying it."

Beattie, who was forced to retire from road racing in 1997 because of injuries, said he would probably return to the Gold Coast tomorrow.

South Australian Andrew Caldecott, the 2000 Safari champion, won the stage in a time of 5-hrs 11-mins 17-secs on a KTM 660 Rallye. He finished 6-mins 55-secs clear of Stephen Greenfield of the Northern Territory on a Honda XR650. Greenfield, who won the event in 1999, was followed by American Casey McCoy on a Honda XR650 and South Australian Tony Tervoert on a Husqvarna.

Victorian Des Harrington won the Auto Division for four-wheel-drive vehicles, by completing the stage in 5-hrs 14-mins 45-secs in a Nissan Patrol Ute. Former Australian speedway champion Ross Nicastri was second in another Nissan Patrol, 52-secs behind Harrington.

Harrington, who finished fourth in the 2000 Safari, said his improved performance had been aided by fitting a new 5.7-litre engine in his machine, which generated about 450-horsepower.

"This is the first time I've ever led the Safari, and the main reason is the extra horsepower we're carrying this year," said Harrington. "The new engine has Chevrolet pistons and is custom-built. It's going to give us good speed when we get into the fast stuff later on in the rally."

Defending champion Bruce Garland of NSW finished a frustrated fifth, 5-mins 48-secs behind Harrington, after his Holden Rally Team Jackaroo was delayed by a tyre failure. The three-times Safari winner also collided with Honda-mounted South Australian motorcycle rider Peter Baker, who fell from his machine, but was not injured.

"The left rear tyre 'blew' at about 160km/h, and the tube came out and wrapped itself around the suspension," said Garland. "We had to cut it off. Later on I accidentally knocked one of the bike riders off in a dry creek. It wasn't one of my better days."

The Safari continues tomorrow with a 376km stage from Ayers Rock Resort to Kings Creek.


OVERALL POSITIONS (after Day 1 - Sunday, August 19):

MOTO DIVISION: POS RIDER MOTORCYCLE TIME 1. A. Caldecott (SA) KTM 660 Rallye 5:11.17 2. S. Greenfield (NT) Honda XR650 5:18.12 3. C. McCoy (U.S.) Honda XR650 5:24.11 4. T. Tervoert (SA) Husqvarna TE6 5:46.20 5. A. Coaker (Qld) KTM 660 Rallye 5:53.17 6. S. Blackney (GB) Honda XR650 5:53.51 7. M. Carey (Vic) Honda XR650 5:56.21 8. T. Fitzhardinge (WA) KTM 660 Rallye 6:06.30 9. P. MacDonald (NSW) Honda XR650 6:08.34 10. V. Springer (Tas) Honda XR650 6:11.28

AUTO DIVISION: POS DRIVERS VEHICLE TIME 1. D. Harringon (Vic)-B. Bennett (Vic) Nissan Patrol Ute 5:14.45 2. R. Nicastri (NSW)-S. Green (NSW) Nissan Patrol 5:15.37 3. T. Denham (NSW)-M. Denham (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 5:18.23 4. R. Owen (Vic)-R. Cairns (Vic) Nissan Patrol 5:19.17 5. B. Garland (NSW)-H. Suzuki (NSW) Holden Jackaroo 5:20.33 6. B. Muir (NT)-A. Muir (NT) Nissan Patrol 5:29.45 7. S. Riley (Vic)-J. Doble (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 5:33.57 8. R. Gambino (NSW)-D. Lowe (NSW) Suzuki Grand Vitara 5:46.05 9. T. Pinson (NSW)-R. Lewis (NSW) Mitsubishi Pajero 5:47.32 10. P. Brock (Vic)-J. Brock (Vic) Holden Jackaroo 5:48.23