CLASSICS WIN NETBALL FLAG
ISUZU TEAM FACING TOUGH TEST
DIESEL-powered vehicles have won Le Mans and other top sports car races, so why shouldn’t one win the Australasian Safari?
That’s the thinking behind a three-car team tackling the seven days and 3500km of endurance racing through the WA outback on sand, salt plains, rough desert tracks and dry riverbeds.
This year’s event has one of the most diverse fields of vehicles with a record number of side-by-side entrants, the inclusion of hybrid vehicles and everyday driven four-wheel drives joining the mix.
The record 127 entrants include factory-backed teams from Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Jeep and Yamaha.
Cross-country racing star Bruce Garland will spearhead a three-car Isuzu team tackling the extreme conditions of the Australasian Safari, which starts from the Wanneroo Show- grounds on Friday and finishes in Kalbarri on September 27.
All three are under the banner of Isuzu Motorsports, a performance parts company owned by Bruce Garland and his longtime co-driver, Harry Suzuki.
They also have support from Isuzu operations in Japan, Thailand and Australia.
The Sydney-based duo will contest the Extreme 4WD (T1) class in the high-powered Isuzu D-Max ute they took to last year's Dakar Rally.
WA’s Adrian Di Lallo will drive an Isuzu MU-X wagon in the production car (T2) class and the team will also run Thai driver Olan Sornsirirat in a production class D-Max ute.
“You need the right car, the right crew, the right tyres and a bit of luck, so if we have all that lined up – and we believe we do – then we’ll see what happens. It’s certainly a trophy I would love to add to my collection,” five- time winner Garland said.
He and Di Lallo recently spent time testing the cars with an Isuzu factory engineer, tuning the vehicles to the best possible capacity. Garland’s D-Max is now putting out around 200kW and 700Nm compared to figures of around 190/600 last year, while the MU-X Di Lallo will drive generating about 180kW and 600Nm. Standard figures for either car are 130/380.
Garland and Suzuki are contesting the Safari for the 18th time, and have won it five times, while Di Lallo has competed three times in the past, earning a class podium position in 2011.
The Dakar Challenge category takes on an international flavour, with moto competitors Ian Blythe (US), Italians Ermanno Innocenti and Cesar Zacchetti and Australians Matthew Bates and Neil Orme all vying for the coveted prize of free entry into the 2015 Dakar.
Ready for the Safari... Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki (left) with their potent new Isuzu D-Max. Another Isuzu D-Max in action (right).