Houlihan runs out of time for Portugal after training accident

Andrew Houlihan

Australian rider Andrew Houlihan has run out of time to make the field for this weekend’s sixth round of the FIM BAJA World Cup in Portugal due to injury.

Houlihan badly damaged his left knee in a training accident in North-East Victoria at the weekend and a call on whether he would compete today was being made on almost an hourly basis.

His first decision was to get on a plane to Europe on Tuesday and he then had to endure 36 hours of travel to Cadaval, Portugal.

His Speedcafe.com-backed KTM 450 Baja bike arrived yesterday and once he worked out he could barely get his leg over the seat, he decided to withdraw.

To make things even tougher Houlihan would have had to do today’s seven-kilometre prologue and then 790km of competition stages over two days totally unassisted, including his own servicing and refueling.

A huge field is expected for the event which also doubles as a round of the Portuguese Cross-Country Championships.

Houihan currently leads the veteran’s world title by 31 points from Portugal’s Pedro Bianchi Parata, with Spain’s Toni Vingut another 29 points away in third.

The UAE’s Mohammed Al Balooshi leads the 450cc World Cup on 61 points from Portugal’s David Megre (52), while Houlihan sits an incredible third outright another eight points back.

With just two rounds remaining after this weekend, it was important that Houlihan ensured he was fit enough to close out the championship competitively in Dubai and Jordan next month.

He gets to drop his worst round from the points score, which will now obviously be this weekend’s event.

“I did manage to get my leg over the seat, but I could not even change gears, let alone stand up,” said Houlihan.

“We had to give it a crack, but we simply ran out of time and could not risk further damage and the possibility of missing the last two rounds.

“I have a solid overall lead in the Veterans World Cup Class, but now even more importantly and unexpectedly, I have a chance to finish in the top five of the 450cc World championship class if I can get good consistent results over the remaining two rounds.”

Houlihan’s accident came in very unexpected circumstances at low speed.

“Less than an hour into the ride down a dirt track that I would normally ride at 70-80km/h my back wheel slipped into a deep muddy rut doing only 20-30kph and threw me on the ground,” said Houlihan.

“My airbag vest deployed and as I was laying in the ground I could feel a massive lump just above my knee brace.

“At first I thought I had broken my femur, but the pain wasn’t too bad.

“A couple of mates on the ride with me lifted me up off the ground and as I went to walk, I collapsed badly.

“We had x-rays and worked with my regular doctors to ensure no damage was done to my titanium knee, but I cannot lie, the pain is not great.”

Houlihan will now return to Australia and go into a daily treatment program to ensure he is as close to 100 percent fit as possible for the end of the season.

There are three rounds of the World Cup remaining with events in Dubai (November 10-12) and Jordan (November 23-25) after this weekend’s Portugal enduro.

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