A squashed vertebrae in the week before Christmas could well force Michael Boaden out of the season opening Round, the National Capital Rally, later this month.
While working on his father’s boat Boaden, who was lifting a gas cylinder at the time, says he heard a crack and before he knew it was flat on his back in agony.
“The doctor’s say I squashed the L4-5 vertebrae and basically I’ve spent the last few weeks flat on my back trying to recover,” Michael explained. “The specialist wanted to put me in traction for two weeks over Christmas, but I quickly made sure that wasn’t going to happen.”
“I’ve been seeing the specialist a couple of times a week, plus spending lots of time resting and swimming to try to speed up the recovery and so far it’s feeling significantly better.”
Boaden is adamant that he’ll take the start line in Canberra at the end of the month, although he will assess his back as he goes and if he feels there is a risk of doing more damage he’ll immediately withdraw.
“I’ll at least start the rally and see how it feels. If it’s no good then I won’t have a choice but to pull out, the last thing I want to do is anymore damage.”
“If the specialist had his way I wouldn’t be anywhere near a rally car, but just try to keep me away!” he laughed. ”It’ll all come down to how I feel when we get to Canberra. If I can’t get in and out of the car comfortably then I’ll pack it in.”
The injury kept Boaden away from work and away from preparing his VW Polo for the season ahead, although having missed the season ending Round in Victoria he admits there wasn’t a lot of preparation work to undertake.
“We will fit the new engine, the same one that Mick Patton has been working on, so both the engines in our cars will be identical.”
As with Patton, Boaden is hoping that the new 1.8 litre turbo-charged engine will improve the overall reliability of the Polo after having suffered frustrating engine failures last season.
“The old normally aspirated engine just couldn’t handle the abuse. So with the new engine, by actually reducing the power we think it’ll prove far more reliable, far less wheel spin, and overall a more enjoyable car for us both to drive,” explained Michael.
“Last year was a massive reality check for us. Really this year is about starting again and going from there.”
Asked if he was frustrated with how last year unfolded, after having won the 4WD Championship the year before Boaden said: “Yes and no. It was frustrating that we weren’t driving our own car for the first half of the season. After we got our own car we really stepped it up from there.”
“I’m looking at last year as a huge learning experience, this year is a completely new sheet of paper!”