TUESDAY, JUNE 12: Former Australian Safari motorcycle champion Stephen Greenfield has had his preparations disrupted for this year's international cross country rally after suffering a hand injury in the Finke Desert Race. Greenfield, who won...
TUESDAY, JUNE 12: Former Australian Safari motorcycle champion Stephen Greenfield has had his preparations disrupted for this year's international cross country rally after suffering a hand injury in the Finke Desert Race.
Greenfield, who won the Safari's Moto Division in 1999, damaged ligaments in the outside two fingers of his left hand when he collided with a tree in the opening leg of the annual three-day Finke event near Alice Springs, which finished yesterday.
He underwent X-rays at Alice Springs Hospital today, which revealed no broken bones, but he said bruising and swelling of the injured hand would force him to cancel planned training rides for at least the next two weeks in the lead-up to the Safari through the Northern Territory from August 19-26.
"My fingers took a good wack when I clipped the tree and speared off into the bush, and the hand is sore and swollen up," said Greenfield.
"I'll still be racing in the Safari, but I didn't need this right now because I'd been hoping to do some long rides over 300km or so in the next couple of weeks as part of my preparation."
The 32-year-old Alice Springs rider, who missed the Safari in 2000 after dislocating a shoulder, will compete on a Honda XR650 in this year's event as part of the Glenn Hoffmann Racing team which also includes former 500cc grand prix racer Daryl Beattie.
Greenfield said he was determined to perform well in this year's Safari over a 4,300km course from Alice Springs to Darwin after being unable to defend his title in 2000, when the event was won by South Australia's Andy Caldecott on a KTM 660 Rallye.
"It's was really disappointing missing last year's Safari, especially when you're the defending champion, so I'm keen to have a good crack at it again," he said.
Caldecott also raced in the Finke event over Queen's Birthday Weekend, but was forced to withdraw after the opening leg because of mechanical problems with his production-based KTM 520.
"I haven't done much riding since last year's Safari, so the Finke was an important opportunity to get some time in the saddle," said Caldecott.
"Unfortunately we had a problem with the motor and we couldn't get the parts we needed, so that was the end of the weekend for us."
Caldecott said he would compete in the next two rounds of the Thumper Nationals motocross series in South Australia and Queensland in preparation for defending his Safari title.
Bruce Garland, the defending Auto Division Safari champion and a record three-times winner of the event, finished second in the Finke's class for vehicles in a four-wheel-drive Holden Jackaroo.
The 42-year-old from Sydney and co-driver Harry Suzuki had been outside the top 10 after the opening leg, but charged through the field in the yesterday's closing stages over the final 100km in wet and muddy conditions.
"It was good practice for the Safari because we were able to test some new 'running gear' in both dry and wet weather," said Garland.
"We were skipping across the mud and water, compared to the others, and I think we'll be very competitive if we come across those conditions in the Safari."
The motorcycles class of the Finke race was won by Michael Vroom of the Northern Territory on a Honda CR500, while David Fellows of Alice Springs was first in the vehicles division in a Southern Cross Buggy.
<pre> FINKE DESERT RACE RESULTS (June 9-10-11):
MOTORCYCLES: POS RIDER MOTORCYCLE RACE TIME 1. Michael Vroom (NT) Honda CR500 4:11.03 2. Mark Sladek (Vic) Honda CR500 4:16.39 3. Brad Williscroft (NSW) KTM 520 4:17.47
VEHICLES: POS DRIVER VEHICLE RACE TIME 1. David Fellows (NT) Southern Cross Buggy 4:18.37 2. Bruce Garland (NSW) Holden Jackaroo 4:59.27 3. Eric Schmidt (SA) Volkswagen Baja 5:00.47