Finish: Australian Safari

Cycle News Staff | August 28, 2000


DAY 8: Darwin/Mindil Beach Sprint

Total distance: 2 miles. Competitive distance: 1 mile (1 stage)

Former 500cc World Road Racing Champion Kevin Schwantz yesterday raced to his first stage win, and Japanese rider Asaji Sugahara was rushed to hospital after being knocked unconscious in a dramatic end to the Vodafone Australian Safari international cross country rally in Darwin.

Amid the excitement of Schwantz’s win, and concern over Sugahara’s condition, South Australian Andrew Caldecott predictably won the motorcycle division of the 2522-mile event through the Northern Territory.

Schwantz won the final two-mile stage on Mindil Beach just minutes after Sugahara crashed his Suzuki DR350 on the entry to a jump and landed heavily on his head. The 29-year-old from Kyoto, who was one of 15 Japanese riders who began the event in Alice Springs on August 20, lay motionless on the course while being treated by St. John’s Ambulance personnel. Sugahara regained consciousness while being transported by ambulance to Royal Darwin Hospital, where he was admitted to the Accident and Emergency Center. A hospital spokesman said Sugahara had been cleared of broken bones by X-rays and would undergo a brain scan. The spokesman said Sugahara was alert and his condition was stable, but added he would remain in the hospital overnight, where his condition would be monitored.

British rider Steve Blackney, who viewed the crash minutes before he rode the course, said it was likely Sugahara had misjudged the entry to the jump: “It scared everyone, seeing that crash, and we all thought the sand must have been soft,” Blackney said. “He seemed to be sitting down and hit the ramp on closed throttle – maybe he should have been standing up, leaning back, and going at full throttle.”

Schwantz, who made his cross country rally debut in the Safari, was ecstatic at his five-second victory on a Suzuki DR-Z400 over Caldecott, who had taken the honors on each of the previous seven days of the event on a KTM 660cc Rallye. “Caldecott was in a class of his own all week, and he deserved to win the Safari, but it’s a great to finish off my first shot at one of these races with a win,” said Schwantz. “We’ve been riding hundreds of kilometers every day, but this last stage was a short blast, and that’s more like what I’m used to, coming from a grand prix road racing background.”

Caldecott won the two-wheel division in a time of 25 hours, nine minutes, 41 seconds, finishing two hours, 10 minutes, two seconds clear of second-placed American Casey McCoy on a Honda XR400, who was followed by South Australian Tony Tervoert on a Husqvarna TE610E.

“It would have been good to win every day of the Safari, but I can’t complain because it’s been such a good week,” said Caldecott.

FINAL OVERALL POSITIONS (after Day 8 – Sunday, August 27):

1. A. Caldecott (SA) KTM 660 Rallye 25:09.41

2. C. McCoy (U.S.) Honda XR400 27:19.43

3. T. Tervoert (SA) Husqvarna TE610E 27:31.13

4. R. Pollard (WA) KTM 640 Adventure 27:37.18

5. G. Hoffman (NSW) KTM 620 28:52.10

6. T. Kirby (NSW) Suzuki DR-Z400 29:11.59

7. S. Blackney (GB) KTM 660 Rallye 29:26.59

8. C. Ross (NT) Honda XR650 29:49.07

9. A. Roberts (NT) Honda XR400 29:49.22

10. P. Talintyre (NSW) KTM 640 Rallye 30:43.42


13. K. Schwantz (U.S.) Suzuki DR-Z400 32:46.31 >