Former 500cc Grand Prix Racer Beattie Rides 720KM in Preparation For Australian Safari WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20: Former 500cc grand prix motorcycle racer Daryl Beattie today completed an incident-free 720km training stint in the Northern Territory...
Former 500cc Grand Prix Racer Beattie Rides 720KM in Preparation For Australian Safari
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20: Former 500cc grand prix motorcycle racer Daryl Beattie today completed an incident-free 720km training stint in the Northern Territory and declared he was on schedule with his preparation for this year's Australian Safari international cross country rally.
Beattie, who was runner-up to fellow-Australian Michael Doohan in the 500cc world championship in 1995, rode a Honda XR650 yesterday and today over a variety of terrain and off-road tracks near Alice Springs to test his capabilities for his rally debut in the 4,300km Safari from August 19-26.
The 30-year-old said he would return to the Gold Coast tomorrow with a greater understanding of the conditions he would encounter in the Safari's Moto Division, which is round three of the Federation Internationale Motocycliste (FIM) Cross Country Rallies World Cup series.
"Going to Alice Springs is the best thing I could have done because I've never done a race like the Safari before and now I've got a better idea of what to expect," said Beattie. "It was good to get a feel for riding on bush tracks and the rocky stuff, and I never crashed once."
"I wasn't sure how I'd handle a couple of hard days on the bike over long distances in tough conditions, but the fitness work I'm doing is paying off and my endurance was pretty good. I'm a little 'saddle sore' in some places, but that's to be expected. Overall I feel I'm on schedule for where I should be and I'm keen and enthusiastic about everything."
Beattie, who retired from 500cc grand prix racing in 1997 and is now a Network Ten motorsport commentator, rode 400km yesterday south of Alice Springs, including areas used in the annual Finke Desert Race. Today he covered a further 320km on a course which took him to Ross River, a refuelling point in the 2000 Safari.
"I was doing about 160km/h on one of the fast sections, but I was there to learn rather than push too hard," said Beattie. "You've got to be able to look out for rocks that stick out of the dirt tracks because if you hit them you're going to get a puncture."
The courses Beattie rode during his training stint were on the advice of Stephen Greenfield, the Alice Springs rider who won the Moto Division of the Safari in 1999. They will be team-mates in this year's event, riding Glenn Hoffmann Racing Honda XR650 machines.
"Stephen (Greenfield) has been really helpful, and he understands what someone with a road racing background needs to learn," said Beattie.
Beattie said he planned to return to Alice Springs in late July for a further two-day riding stint, accompanied by Greenfield.
"At this stage I'm hoping to get back to Alice again before the Safari and do some riding over some tougher courses," said Beattie. "Stephen is going to teach me how to use the map-reading instruments and pace notes while I'm riding, because I didn't do any of that this week."
"In the next few weeks I'll be doing as much riding as I can around home and keeping up the fitness work to get myself in the best possible shape."
The Safari, which this year includes 23 competitive stages between Alice Springs and Darwin, also includes the Auto Division for off-road four-wheel-drive vehicles, and a new Rally Division for cars and lightweight four-wheel-drive vehicles.
Sydney's Bruce Garland, fresh from finishing second in the Finke Desert Race, has confirmed he will defend his Safari Auto Division title in a Holden Jackaroo with regular team-mate Harry Suzuki. They have a record three wins in the event.
The Safari is being supported by the Northern Territory Government 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.