Friday, January 15th, 2010
An errant wheel has played havoc with what would have been a perfect day for the remaining Garland MotorSports Isuzu D-MAX ute competing in the 2010 Dakar Rally.

Swedish duo Pelle Wallentheim and Olle Ohlsson started the 11th stage of the event in 17th place and held close to that position until 48km from the finish line when a wheel literally fell off the car. They finished a disappointing 52nd on the day, but remain in 25th outright and second in class with three competition stages to go.

Australian teammates, Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki are now part of their service crew, having been forced out of competition late last week when a freak accident smashed the radiator, causing the engine to overheat. Because the Australians left the desert rally route to reach camp safely, they were excluded.

“I am very sad after today,” said a clearly disappointed Wallentheim when he reached the overnight bivouac.

“We had a perfect day, a good start with no problems, no mistakes. We had done most of the stage when the wheel fell off. Some of the studs on the other wheels were loose too, but we don’t know what has caused this. It doesn’t make sense to go this far, to go nearly 200km before this happens.

“The team is always so careful, so Bruce and the guys are now checking everything to see what the problem is. It’s Dakar, I guess, and things can go wrong in such a long event. The main thing is we are still going, and we haven’t lost any outright position, so tomorrow is another day and hopefully we can do much better.”

Stage 11 was a total distance of 434km including the 211km liaison (transport) to the start and a competitive section of 220km. It began after the Dakar ‘caravan’ crossed the Andes mountain range via the Liberatores Pass, passing the towering peak of Aconcagua. Competitors then dealt with frontier formalities before heading into Uspallata in the foothills on the Argentine side of the border for the start.

When it finished, it was BMW’s Guerlain Chicherit who took the stage win, ahead of Argentinian hero, Orlando Terranova (Mitsubishi) with defending champion Giniel De Villiers (VW) third fastest.

The VW Touareg team maintains control in overall terms, with Carlos Sainz leading, but second placed teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah has closed the gap, leaving just over four minutes between them with three stages remaining. Mark Miller (VW) remains in third place with Stéphane Peterhansel (BMW) and Chicherit rounding out the top five. Of last year’s podium, (De Villiers, Miller, Robby Gordon), De Villiers is seventh and Gordon (Hummer) in 10th.

Tomorrow (tonight, Australian time) the route heads between the towns of San Juan and San Rafael, with a 23km liaison guiding crews to the start of a punishing 476km special stage. It is the longest day of the event as well, because tired crews will then have to tackle a 297km liaison to the overnight halt.

The section will pass via a protected natural site near the Valley of the Dinosaurs, but the special will be varied, offering river crossings, canyons, fast piste and some large sandy areas near the finish. Last year this area caused all sorts of problems for many crews.

Just 198 vehicles started the 11th stage, compared with the 362 vehicles which left Buenos Aires on New Year’s Day. There are three stages left to contest before the official finish in BA on January 17.

Wallentheim and Ohlsson are driving an Isuzu D-MAX 4x4 ute, built in Garland’s Sydney backyard. 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. They are competing in Class T1.2, which is modified 4WD diesel.

In 2009, the Swedes 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 11 (all correct at time of writing)

1. Guerlain Chicherit (BMW): 2h 34m 51s
2. Orlando Terranova (Mitsubishi): + 30s
3. Giniel De Villiers (VW): + 39s

52. Pelle Wallentheim/Olle Ohlsson: + 2h 01m 47s

TIMES: OVERALL (all correct at time of writing)

1. Carlos Sainz (VW): 39h 16m 55s
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah (VW): +4m 28s
3. Mark Miller (VW): + 23m 50s

25. Pelle Wallentheim/Olle Ohlsson: + 25h 38m 04s

Contact Profile

Liz Swanton, Media Liaison – Garland MotorSports

P: 612 9771 1277
M: 0417 232 643


Wheel falls off 48km from finish./


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