Ford Dale.
Ford Dale.

Injury puts champ off the track

RECENTLY crowned national motocross champion Ford Dale has been cut down by another serious knee injury, ruling him out of the Australian supercross season.

One of the sport's rising stars, the Sunshine Coast rider was in the form of his life before he tore an anterior cruciate ligament in Japan last weekend.

"I'm gutted," he said. "It sucks because I've felt really good on the bike this year. It had been going great."

The Honda racer hopes to undergo LARS surgery in an effort to return to the ranks of the sport in quick time.

"I've got a lot of swelling at the moment but as soon as I get rid of that, then I'll get the knee reconstruction as soon as I can," he said.

"It's not good to get an injury but it's better to have it now than at the start of next year because I should have time to recover and prepare for the next Australian Motocross Championship, which starts in March.

"A full recon is about six months, but I'm trying to get an artificial ligament put in, so that would be a lot less time. It would only be about three to four months."

Agonisingly, it is the second time in as many years Dale has succumbed to a serious knee injury.

In 2011, he ruptured anterior cruciate and medial ligaments, but he bounced back in style this season to claim the national 250 championship, which culminated at Coolum in August.

Buoyed by the breakthrough, Dale was keen to make his mark during the spring as well but he came unstuck in the first round of the Australian Supercross Championship at Dubbo earlier this month when he partially tore his anterior cruciate ligament.

It was not enough to deter him from accepting an invitation to compete in the last round of the Japanese Motocross Championship and he made the most of the opportunity last weekend.

He dominated proceedings and claimed one race victory by a margin of 30 seconds, but felt his knee completely go.

"AFTER the supercross round, it was just a small knock. It hadn't completely torn, but all it took was for me to put my foot down in Japan to completely tear it," Dale said.

"I did it mid-race in the last moto. I was leading, so I got to finish and win the race but I was definitely in pain as I crossed the line. But that's okay, that's part of it."

The setback has rubbed him out of the three remaining rounds of the national supercross series, but he hopes to make his mark in the 450 class when the national motocross championships start next year. Yesterday, he also revealed plans to tackle the lucrative US circuit in 2014.

"My goal next year is to win or finish in the top three of the Australian motocross series and then if everything goes to plan I will go to America," he said.

Dale had wanted to test the waters in the US in January, but his latest injury cruelled that plan.



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