THURSDAY, AUGUST 17: A strained and bruised ankle from a training mishap near Alice Springs today disrupted the preparation of former 500cc motorcycle world champion Kevin Schwantz for the Vodafone Australian Safari international cross country ...
THURSDAY, AUGUST 17: A strained and bruised ankle from a training mishap near Alice Springs today disrupted the preparation of former 500cc motorcycle world champion Kevin Schwantz for the Vodafone Australian Safari international cross country rally, which starts on Sunday.
The 35-year-old Texan was injured when he hit a rock while riding the Suzuki DR-Z400 he will race in the 4,067km event over eight successive days from Alice Springs to Darwin.
Schwantz suffered an ankle sprain and had ice packs applied to combat deep bruising, but later confirmed there was no doubt he would be a starter in the event.
"There was a rock hidden in some bushes and when I leaned the bike over in a left-hand turn my ankle hit it," he said. "I knew straight away I'd done some damage, but I wasn't sure how much."
"The ankle is black and blue from bruising, but we've been putting ice on it and it's coming good. Tomorrow I'm going riding again to work the stiffness out of the ankle. I've got three days before the Safari starts so I'll be okay."
Schwantz, who won 25 grands prix for Suzuki in 500cc racing and was world champion in 1993, is one of 35 entries in the Moto Division of the Safari.
He said his training program tomorrow would also include lessons in using navigation equipment on his machine, and learning to read maps while riding.
"This is my first cross country rally so navigation and maps are new to me," he said. "It's important I spend time on the bike getting to know how these things work."
Schwantz is seeded second in the Moto Division, behind South Australian Andrew Caldecott on a KTM 660 Rallye.
There are 24 entries in the Safari's Auto Division, including defending champion Bruce Garland of NSW, who is driving a Holden Jackaroo. Garland will arrive in Alice Springs tomorrow.