Gar­land on course de­spite set­backs

NT News - Motoring - - NEWS - By MARK HINCH­LIFFE

AUS­TRALIA’S best-fin­ish­ing Dakar en­trant is on course for his Aus­tralasian Sa­fari as­sault next month and his next Dakar in Jan­uary with a sec­ond in the Asia Cross Coun­try Rally.

Bruce Gar­land and Harry Suzuki, of Syd­ney, matched their sec­ond place in 2000 in the tough Asian rally, de­spite dra­mas with flood­ing creeks.

‘‘The con­di­tions have been just di­a­bol­i­cal, but we would have been in even more trou­ble with­out our Bridge­stone mud tyres,’’ Gar­land said.

‘‘They have been fan­tas­tic when we’ve been on the road and not swim­ming.’’

Their 2010 Dakar-spec Isuzu D-MAX 4x4 ute be­came hope­lessly bogged on the first day of com­pe­ti­tion.

Gar­land said they ex­pected to be out of the run­ning in the Asia rally af­ter the creek in­ci­dent and could not be­lieve they man­aged to reach the podium.

‘‘They had warned us the wa­ter was about half a me­tre deep but it was prob­a­bly about three times that much when we got there,’’ he said.

‘‘It was up to the dash­board. Ev­ery­thing got soaked — our phones and our cam­eras.

‘‘Harry thought he was go­ing to drown be­cause the cabin was full of wa­ter, and then we had to swim the tow rope to shore, so the re­cov­ery ve­hi­cle could pull us out.

‘‘But we got go­ing again, and we were back in the bat­tle. So while first would have been best, we’re pretty pleased that we ac­tu­ally got a re­sult.’’

The five-day rally fin­ished late Wed­nes­day and was sup­posed to cover 2010km of jun­gles, swamps and river cross­ings but tor­ren­tial rain forced sev­eral stages to be short­ened.

The rally marked the first stage of the Isuzu team’s cam­paign for this year. Next stop will be the Aus­tralasian Sa­fari in Western Aus­tralia in Septem­ber, where they will de­but a new Isuzu D-MAX.

The car will be shipped to Buenos Aires in late Oc­to­ber for the 2011 Dakar Rally.

In 2009, they fin­ished the Dakar as first diesel ute, first pro­duc­tion chas­sis car, first am­a­teur (non-fac­tory) crew and 11th out­right, out of nearly 200 cars. A ser­vicere­lated quirk thwarted their Dakar as­sault this year.

For more in­or­ma­tion, visit: www.isuzu­mo­tor­sports.com

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