Tuesday, August 10th, 2010
A waterlogged car and crew are still on track for a result, as Australian offroad racer Bruce Garland continues to battle the forces of nature and the jungles of Thailand in the Asia Cross Country Rally.

While Day One was a simple 2.5km run around the streets of Pattaya last Saturday afternoon, Garland and his long-time navigator Harry Suzuki and their 2010 Dakar-spec Isuzu D-MAX 4x4 ute have had a challenging time in the two days since.

“In the driver’s briefing yesterday (Sunday), they told us the car would need a snorkel to keep going because we had to go through about half a metre of water, but when we got there it was at least twice that much,” says Garland, who swears he is still drying out.

“We had to drive through the lake to find the road and it was so deep the water was coming through the windows. Our mobile phones and cameras were under the seat and they just got drowned. In fact, Harry thought he was going to drown – the water was up to the dashboard.”

The Isuzu MotorSports crew had to wait for a recovery vehicle to pull them out and then dry out the car as much as they could before they could continue. They thought they were out of the running but because the afternoon session was even harder, with no-one else getting through, they moved up the order again – and after a strong showing today (Monday), are confident they are back in podium contention.

“We were back to about eighth but I think we’re up to second or third now. There were about 18 cars in the event, but I reckon they’ve lost nearly half of them. We feel like we’ve come back from the dead – I don’t even know how the car is still going, it was so wet, but the guys did a great job. And our Bridgestone Dueler Mud Terrain tyres are managing to cope really well with the conditions – when we’re on the road and not sinking in the lake!”

Day Three was a 470km stage, with a massive 220km of transport on top of the competitive stage, which was 250km long, through jungles and swamps and rivers.

“We drove up through a valley today which was so beautiful, it was like being in an Indiana Jones movie, but then you get into the jungle and it’s so thick and so dark, you can barely see, even with the lights on. It’s just incredible.

“But when you stop somewhere to service the cars, the people are bringing food that is so fresh – rice and vegetables and fresh herbs straight from the fields, a chicken they have just killed that day. It’s beautiful food and it’s just an amazing event.”

The rally kicked off in Pattaya on August 7 and finishes at Phrae (near the Laos border) on Wednesday, August 11, after covering 2010km of jungles, swamps and river crossings. Garland and Suzuki last contested this event in 2000 and came second. They’re aiming to be one step higher this year.

The Asian event is the first stage of Isuzu Motorsports’ campaign for this year. The team will also tackle the Australasian Safari in WA in September, debuting a new Isuzu D-MAX. If all goes well, that car will be on the boat to Buenos Aires in late October in readiness for a January start in the 2011 Dakar Rally.

“We’re certainly gearing up for Dakar and hope we can do it again next year,” says Garland, who impressed during the enduro’s South American debut in 2009, finishing as first diesel ute, first production chassis car, first ‘amateur’ (non-factory) crew and 11th outright, out of nearly 200 cars. A service-related quirk thwarted their Dakar assault this year.

Garland and Suzuki’s ute was built in Garland’s Sydney backyard. The standard 3.0-litre turbo-diesel production engine was slightly tweaked for better performance in the Dakar. 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.

When the team gets back from Thailand, they will put the finishing touches on the new car in readiness for its debut at the Safari. Aside from being fine-tuned specifically in line with all they have learned in the previous two events, this future Dakar challenger has a new Isuzu engine which has 10 per cent more power and torque than this year’s car.

The Australasian Safari will start in Perth on September 17 and finish in Esperance on September 25. The 2011 Dakar Rally crosses Argentina to the Chilean coast and back over the fortnight of January 1 to 16 next year.

Contact Profile

Liz Swanton, Media Liaison – Garland MotorSports

P: (612) 9771 1277
M: 0417 232 643
W: www.Isuzumotorsports.com


Asia Cross Country Rally, Garland Motor Sport, Dakar Rally 2011, motor racing, Australian Dakar team


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