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Off-road racing legend Bruce Garland is extremely happy with his new Isuzu MU-X after the race-prepared wagon made its highly successful international racing debut at the famous Finke Desert Race.

Garland and long-time navigator Harry Suzuki posted first in class (Class Seven, Production 4WD, diesel, not exceeding 7200cc) and 48th outright after a gruelling two days of racing in Australia’s Northern Territory.

“The car was fantastic. It’s really well balanced – the chassis is really good – and we are really happy with it,” says Garland, who prepared the car with Suzuki in their Sydney workshop.

“It’s good everywhere – it took an absolute pounding but it is really, really strong. I could say the same about the new Toyo AT tyres we tested. They worked well in the dunes, under brakes, whatever. They copped a hiding on the rocks but there were no problems whatsoever. They have proved to be brilliant at everything – just like the car.”

While the MU-X does not have the outright speed of the Extreme 4WD-class D-MAX ute Garland has campaigned so successfully in the past, he was surprised by its speed – and also by the fact he survived the bruising two days feeling less battered than he expected.
 
“The road was so bad, just so rough. It was bad enough going down on Sunday, but it was cut up even more, of course, by the time we started today (Monday) and it took us longer to get back.

“But Harry and I feel remarkably good. I had a massage at Finke, which ironed out the kinks, and we’ve used the air conditioning all weekend – the joys of having a production car! So we’re nice and clean and we don’t smell that much, given how hot and sweaty you get in an event like this!”

So impressed is he with the car and its performance on debut, that Garland has mentioned the ‘D’ word, but with a disclaimer.
 
“I have absolutely no doubt that the MU-X will develop into a very good package for both the Australasian Safari this year and the Dakar in January 2015 – if we can get the funding.

“That’s our next challenge. We’re drawing a line in the sand. We’d love to do both events with this car but we’re not going unless we can find the money to do it properly.”

The MU-X is Isuzu’s first entry into the world of seven-seat family transport. Powered by a three-litre turbo diesel, the standard power and torque figures are130kW/380NM, but the race-prepared vehicle is expected to pump out closer to 195kW/600Nm.
 
This was Garland’s 14th start in the annual Finke classic

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