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Back Vehicle News Isuzu Garland D-MAX Shares Podium Place with Safari V8 Hot Rods
10 Aug 2009

Garland D-MAX Shares Podium Place with Safari V8 Hot Rods

Desert racing aces Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki in their Isuzu D-MAX ute have finished as first diesel crew, first production-engined car and third in the auto class in the 2009 Australasian Safari, staged in outback Western Australia over the past week.

Garland’s three-litre D-MAX shared podium position honours with two Japanese 4x4s both powered by hotted-up, big-cube US V8 engine transplants — Steve Riley’s six-litre V8 Pajero and Terry Conner’s 5.7 litre V8 Patrol ute.

It was Garland and Suzuki’s second consecutive Safari third placing in the D-MAX, last year’s achievement being the event’s first ever diesel podium in its long history.

The D-MAX crew suffered five punctures on Day Six and were initially penalized two hours for using more than the competitor allocation of spare tyres, which relegated them to sixth place, but on appeal race stewards corrected the penalty back to one hour, which re-instated them back to third.

Auto, motorbike and quad bike competitors tackled the 2009 Australasian Safari which started in Perth and raced through rough, outback desert tracks with overnight stops in Geraldton, Mt Magnet, Leonora and Laverton, before finishing 3,500km and a week later last Saturday in the gold mining city of Kalgoorlie.

International entries came from the USA, China, Sweden, South Africa, Japan, New Zealand and the Czech Republic, enhancing the event's reputation as one of the world's toughest, and most respected, motorsport events.

“It was a great event but a very tough week,” says Garland.

“We had our share of dramas. After we were hit from behind early in the week, the damage to the fuel tank gave us some fuel delivery problems so we weren’t as economical as normally, but I still reckon we probably only used about half the fuel that the guys with the monster petrol V8s were guzzling.

“Then we had five punctures on the sixth day, slow leaks mainly, when we were running on this overgrown track with lots of sharp little stumps buried in the sand. But I admit we were pushing hard at the time, because we were closing in on second place.”

Garland and Suzuki, who have won the Safari five times, used the West Australian marathon as preparation for their tilt at the 2010 Dakar Rally, testing some changes in engine tune, brakes and suspension, although their D-MAX remains comparatively mildly tuned, a little more than a third higher than standard in engine output. The Dakar will again cross Argentina and Chile next January. The pair in their D-MAX finished first diesel ute and 11th outright in the legendary event last January.

“We’re pleased with all the changes and we’ll be setting up our Dakar D-MAX with what we’ve learnt. Now all we have to do is get the right sort of sponsor support and budget in place to do Dakar properly, as it’s not the sort of event you go into under-prepared and under-funded, especially if you want to finish in the top 10, which is our goal,” Garland said.

AUSTRALASIAN SAFARI 2009 — AUTO DIVISION — FINAL PLACINGS

Place Driver(s) Vehicle Time
1 Stephen RILEY / John DOBLE Mitsubishi Pajero 6.0 V8 26h 22m 24s
2 Terry CONNER / Jodi CONNER Nissan GQ Patrol 5.7 V8 ute 26h 21m 36s
3 Bruce GARLAND / Harry SUZUKI Isuzu D-MAX 3.0 turbo-diesel ute 27h 41m 52s
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