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Five Safari wins aren’t enough for Bruce Garland. He wants more and his mission is to make the Isuzu D-MAX the first diesel to win this 25th Australasian Safari.

The event starts in Perth this Saturday, September 18 and finishes in the southern Western Australian coastal town of Esperance the following weekend. The new 3600km course, through the remote and rugged WA outback, has been described by event officials as „a little bit nastier' than last year's, but that won't faze Bruce and long-time navigator Harry Suzuki.

The pair was third outright last year – and first diesel – in their 2010 Dakar-spec D-MAX. More than half that car was built using original Isuzu production parts and was instantly recognisable as a production Isuzu D-MAX.

Now they have a new ute – lighter, stronger, faster and better handling than its predecessor, again built by Bruce and his team in his backyard workshop in outer Sydney.

It is still based around the D-MAX's steel cab, chassis frame and 3.0 litre turbo-diesel engine, the latter half the capacity of the racing V8 petrol engine transplanted into the Craig Lowndes Colorado also in the Safari.

The 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine in Garland's „home-built' D-MAX produces approximately 630Nm of maximum torque and around 192kW of peak power, increases of 75 and 60 per cent, respectively, on the standard D-MAX engine.

“This new D-MAX is sensational. It's just light years ahead of those we took to Dakar,” says Garland.

“We used to have planes with propellers; now we have a jet! But it's not just about making it faster – it's still got to be strong, and this ute is better in all areas than the previous utes. I'm really happy with it.”
Dakar dollars

It's been created as a result of two years' experience in the South American endure which Garland wants to do again next January. Because he's a proven competitor, Garland's entry for the 2011 Dakar Rally has been accepted but the final deadline is looming, when the full commitment has to be made – and that can't be done without the team finding some more sponsorship.“Dakar is like the Mt Everest of motorsport,” Bruce says.

“It's not an event you rush into under-resourced and under-prepared. It's a long, hard, dangerous event that pushes cars and crews to absolute breaking point. I don't tackle any event unless I am confident we are fully prepared.”

Nullarbor
Next week's Safari is a major part of that preparation. Garland and his crew ran the ute in driving from Sydney to Perth this week, doing some testing en route — high-speed work on private property at Broken Hill and some sand plugging on the Nullarbor – including getting bogged deliberately to hone recovery skills.

“We've really drawn on all our existing Dakar experience to build this ute and it's a ripper. We love doing the Safari and we've had a lot of success there, so Harry and I are really looking forward to taking the new D-MAX into battle and hopefully coming away with another win.”
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