Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - Bill Buys

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).

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