A very disappointed Alfie Cox of the Gauloises Red Bull Natro Freight Nashua KTM Factory Team yesterday (Saturday, 11 January 2003) returned from the 2003 Telefonica Dakar Race after a massive crash. Racing a 660 KTM Rally, Cox lost his way in...
A very disappointed Alfie Cox of the Gauloises Red Bull Natro Freight Nashua KTM Factory Team yesterday (Saturday, 11 January 2003) returned from the 2003 Telefonica Dakar Race after a massive crash.
Racing a 660 KTM Rally, Cox lost his way in stage 8 on Thursday (9 January 2003) between Ghat and Sabha. He turned just before a dune and went along a sandy valley, which ran further and further away from the real route and eventually stopped in a dead end.
"I tried to go over the top of the dune, but when I got to the top there was a massive cliff face in front of me and I was forced to turn back. When I got to the point where I made the wrong turn, I crossed one more ridge and I was on the correct route. Like anyone else I realized I had lost twenty minutes, -- panicked slightly and I pushed very hard to catch the four front-runners," explained Cox at the Johannesburg International Airport where he was met by fans, friends, and the media.
He continued: "I rode across what we call a set of waves (small dunes) that got me bouncing up and down, just like you saw on TV happened to Shinozuka and a number of other competitors. Eventually I realized I had to bail off and unfortunately I must have hit the on coming wave with my shoulder on a thud of crash impact. After getting the bike back on its wheels and starting to repair the starter switch, I realized things were definitely not well with my shoulder. As it cooled down the pain became unbearable and I knew then that my race was run I hit the satellite distress beacon, knowing that it meant major disappointment for all my supporters".
"After a while the rescue helicopter flew past me, but it fortunately returned after a while, by now I was in so much pain that I could in no way fire the emergency flair to assist the pilot to find me and land properly. After an attempt to reseat my dislocated shoulder, I was airlifted to a checkpoint, where I was left while the helicopter attended to Shinozuka and Delli-Zotti. I was finally airlifted about three hours later," explained Cox
He was airlifted to Tunis with about twelve other competitors and was X-Rayed in a private clinic in Tunis, where doctors realized that the shoulder was not dislocated any longer, but the one pipe in the arm was cracked.
"I am in pain, but that heal with time, my biggest disappointment is for my supporters. I crashed ... and I realize I tried hard, -- but I still feel I have disappointed you and I'd like to say I am sorry, -- yes, this is racing -- I assure you I'll try harder next time and if my family is prepared to support me, I will definitely be back to do my absolute best in the 2004 Dakar race. Thank you to everyone who sent me messages and wished me well, all those who watch on television every night. I received 93 messages on one day of people wishing me all the best. Those are the people I race for and those are the people I will not let down," said a somewhat emotional Cox.
After Cox arrived back in Durban yesterday, he saw his medical doctor who confirmed that the shoulder was dislocated in the accident, and reseated by the Dakar medical team. He also confirmed the cracked pipe but he believes the fracture may be fine within the next four to six weeks and Cox will be able to continue racing for the rest of the season.
"With my wife Hazel and my son Bradley, I will leave on Wednesday and travel to Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt to congratulate the winners of this year's race when they finish on the coast of the Red Sea. I owe it to my sponsors, my teammates and my supporters alike," he remarked.
"Richard Sainct is on a high this season, after he was out of it for two seasons or so, because he did the entire World Cup Cross Country Rally series last year and I plan to do the same this season. You only learn this game by doing it and practicing it day in and day out. I want to commit myself and focus on my racing; focus on what I do so well, racing in cross-country rallies. With the necessary support from a few sponsors, I can build up to Dakar 2004 and do well for all involved," concluded a very confident Cox this morning (Sunday, 12 January 2003).