F1

Oz GP return, police decision cheer Webber

Oz GP return, police decision cheer Webber

No probs, mate. Red Bull Racing's Formula One driver Mark Webber told reporters from his hospital bed in Hobart, Australia, that his injuries suffered at the weekend during his eponymous Pure Tasmania Challenge extreme endurance race are not ...

No probs, mate.

Red Bull Racing's Formula One driver Mark Webber told reporters from his hospital bed in Hobart, Australia, that his injuries suffered at the weekend during his eponymous Pure Tasmania Challenge extreme endurance race are not insurmountable.

Launceston, Australia: Mark Webber and Emma Weitnauer in training.
Photo by Getty Images.

Adding to his relief is confirmation that police will not charge Webber in the incident, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported. State police in Tasmania said the investigation was not yet complete but that no charges would be brought. The accident occurred on an open road near Fortescue Bay in the southeast area of the island state.

"I'll be back in plenty of time for the AGP (Australian Grand Prix) at the end of March," Webber told Australian newspaper the Herald Sun. "It'll be business as usual."

Although his business at home in Australia this week was meant to include a public appearance in Melbourne to promote the grand prix, to be run in 2009 at twilight, Webber instead continued his hospital stay after undergoing surgery to place a pin and two screws in his right leg. He broke the tibia and the fibula when the mountain bike he was riding was hit head-on by a Nissan X-Trail four-wheel-drive vehicle on open road in the island state of Tasmania. The vehicle driver was unhurt.

"It's a straightforward and clean-enough break, so I'm not expecting any complications or setbacks," Webber said.

Webber told the Herald Sun he did what he could to protect his upper body but his feet were clipped into the bike pedals, which left his legs vulnerable. Estimates had him doing 30 mph at the time of the crash.

"The pain was pretty bad and I knew straightaway that my lower leg was broken," he said.

Among Formula One drivers, Webber, 32, has taken endurance training to new lengths. The endurance race in which he was competing combined mountain biking with kayaking and trekking -- including abseiling -- and required elite fitness status, status that can greatly aid his recovery. Although early reports indicated he would return to England after leaving hospital in Hobart, Webber told the Herald Sun doctors advise against long-haul travel right away. Webber's father was quoted by The Times of London as saying Webber would convalesce in Melbourne or at his parents' home in Queanbeyan.

Launceston, Australia: Mark Webber treks through the snow on top of Cradle Mountain.
Photo by Getty Images.

"It's a question of whether he recuperates in Melbourne or comes up to our house in Queanbeyan, near Canberra, where he can use the Australian Institute of Sport to help aid his rehabilitation," Alan Webber told The Times.

The elder Webber had been volunteering at the challenge event and by chance reached the scene of his son's accident. Webber's parents, Alan and Di Webber, were joined at hospital by Webber's manager and partner Ann Neal. Webber told the Herald Sun the group's plans to spend Christmas together in the United Kingdom will not change.

Webber said his records would be forwarded to Red Bull's medical crew for evaluation and planning. He said he had been scheduled to test only two days next month so though he'll miss that, he takes advantage of a testing cutback that leaves January open. He said he should be in good shape to resume his racing job by the time of testing in Jerez, Spain, on Feb. 10.

Australian Grand Prix Corporation chief executive Drew Ward told the Sydney Morning News newspaper that he has every confidence Webber will be on the grid for the race.

"He is a very fit guy," Ward said. "He has undergone surgery to fix the break in his leg, and I know that immediately after he leaves hospital he will be straight into his rehabilitation. I think it's very unlikely there will be much time missed out of his Formula One testing schedule, and I expect him to be completely recovered in time for Melbourne."

Racing fans recall that Michael Schumacher won five world driving championships after breaking his right leg during the British Grand Prix in 1999. No pressure then, mate.

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