Sunday, January 10th, 2010
It’s been another ‘horrendous’ day in Chile’s Atacama Desert for the remaining Garland MotorSports Isuzu D-MAX ute and its crew.

Swedish pair Pelle Wallentheim and Olle Ohlsson spent nearly 12 hours covering the longest stage of the event. From Iquique to Antofagasta in northern Chile, the total distance was 641km, of which the competitive section was a brutal 600km of sand, stones and salt, and more of the ‘talcum powder’ fesh-fesh, or bulldust, that clogs up men and their machines.

They finished the day in 39th place, which puts them in 27th outright (correct at time of writing).

Their Australian colleagues, Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki did not contest the stage, after being forced out of the event yesterday by a freak accident.

The spare wheel dislodged from its special rear tub mounting and cracked the rear-mounted radiator, causing the engine to overheat. Because the Australians had to leave the rally route to avoid being stranded in the desert, they were excluded by event officials.

“It was an awful day out there today,” said an exhausted Wallentheim on his arrival in the bivouac.

“There was lots of sand dunes at the start that trapped others, but we were fine with that. It was when we got into some more fesh-fesh that we had problems. It gets sucked into the engine which means you lose power so you need to back off.

“Then we went into a dip that was deeper than we thought, and we landed very hard on the nose of the car, and Olle hurt his back. He was in so much pain, I thought we would have to call the medics and our rally would be over, but after a while he said he was okay to keep going, so we did. But by then we were very late, and we drove the last sections in the dark, and you have to slow down because it is so dangerous.

“We have slipped a few places [from 23rd to 27th] but given what it was like out there, I am happy we’ve made it. It’s not so bad, given how hard it was. There are a lot of cars and trucks still stuck out there. At least we’re here. Now we need to get all the dust out of the car and out of us – our lungs are full of it!”

Team boss Bruce Garland took control as soon as Wallentheim and Ohlsson arrived at the bivouac, organising beer, food and showers in quick succession while the Garland MotorSports crew began work on the D-MAX. Ohlsson will be checked by medics as a precaution.

“Because we have a rest day tomorrow, this was always going to be our big service,” Garland said.

“Obviously with Harry and I out of the event, our focus is on getting Pelle and Olle to the finish line, and hopefully the title we grabbed last year, of first ‘amateur’ (non-factory team) home. While we’re gutted not to be competing ourselves, we will just throw every resource we have at this car.

“We’ll do a full strip-down service over the next 24 hours, to make sure everything is working the best it can, as well as fix the damage the guys did today when they nosedived into the washaway – but it doesn’t look too bad.”

At the front end of the field, VW’s Nasser Al-Attiyah took the stage win over Stéphane Peterhansel (BMW) with Carlos Sainz (VW) third. In outright terms, however, the glory continues to belong to the VW Touareg trio of Sainz, Al-Attiyah and Mark Miller. Peterhansel is in fifth, with defending champion Giniel De Villiers in 12th. American NASCAR star Robby Gordon (Hummer) who was third last year behind De Villiers and Miller, is now 10th.

A total of 235 vehicles started the seventh stage, compared with the 362 vehicles, which left Buenos Aires on New Year’s Day. All competitors and crews now have a well-earned day of rest before Sunday's eighth stage which goes south through the desert from Antofagasta to Copiapo. Following that the rally heads further south to the capital Santiago before turning east to Argentina for the last four stages and the official finish in BA on January 17.

Garland and Suzuki were driving an Isuzu D-MAX 4x4 ute, built in Garland’s Sydney backyard. Wallentheim is also in a Garland MotorSports-built D-MAX prepared in his Swedish base. The standard 3.0-litre turbo-diesel production engine has been slightly tweaked for better performance, especially for the high altitude sections of the event. It has maximum torque of 600Nm – up 66 per cent on the standard roadgoing D-MAX ute – and peak power of 180kW, which is 50 per cent more than the standard vehicle. It competed in Class T1.2, which is modified 4WD diesel.

In 2009, Wallentheim and Ohlsson (Tubus Racing) finished 44th outright. Their Australian colleagues had finished 11th outright and were first ‘amateur’ (non-factory team) home. They also claimed bragging rights as first diesel ute and first production chassis car. The Swedish duo is now chasing those honours for the Isuzu team.

The Dakar Rally is the world’s premier off-road endurance competition. First staged in 1979, it was traditionally run in Europe and Africa, but moved to South America in 2009 because of safety concerns. The 2008 race – the last to be held in Africa – was cancelled on the eve of the start after the deaths of four French tourists. Their killers had links to the Al Qaeda terrorist network and threatened Dakar Rally organisers and competitors.

There will be regular updates on the team’s performance on the official Isuzu Ute Australia website ( and also on the SBS website (; SBS ONE will show daily highlights of Dakar 2010, every night at 6:00pm AEDT to January 18 and then a one-hour Dakar review from 11am to 12noon on Sunday, January 24.

TIMES: STAGE SEVEN (all correct at time of writing)

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah (VW): 5h 41m 29s
2. Stéphane Peterhansel (BMW): + 3m 29s
3. Carlos Sainz (VW): + 4m 21s

39. Pelle Wallentheim/Olle Ohlsson: + 5h 22m 05s

TIMES: OVERALL (all correct at time of writing)

1. Carlos Sainz (VW): 26h 21m 23s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (VW): +11m 03s
3. Mark Miller (VW): + 22m 06s

27. Pelle Wallentheim/Olle Ohlsson: + 14h 55m 07s

Liz Swanton
Media Liaison – Garland MotorSports

Contact Profile

Liz Swanton, Media Liaison – Garland MotorSports

P: 612 9771 1277
M: 0417 232 643


Swedish pair Pelle Wallentheim and Olle Ohlsson spent nearly 12 hours in "brutal" conditions.


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