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Bruce Garland and co-driver Harry Suzuki and their Isuzu D-MAX ute (Car 807) have finished as first diesel and third in class (Extreme 4WD) after the 2009 Finke Desert Race.
They finished second yesterday, in the first run down the 226km track between Alice Springs and the tiny Aboriginal settlement of Finke, but today was a rougher, slower run to the finish line.
“We had a puncture today. There was debris from broken buggies all over the track and we snagged the tyre on a piece of metal which lost us a bit of time, and probably cost us the outright second position.
“It was definitely a much slower day. We had a good run yesterday but the track was badly cut up this morning after all yesterday’s traffic and we had some pretty hard landings in some spots.
“Obviously we would have liked to be further up the order, but we’ve learned a lot from the event. Murray Coote’s suspension improvements are terrific and made for a much smoother and more comfortable ride, and the new Bridgestone all-terrain tyres were really good – they gave us plenty of grip – so it all goes into the mix for what lies ahead.”
This year’s Finke Desert Race was step one of Garland and Suzuki’s preparations towards competing in the 2010 Dakar Rally. They were the first diesel ute home in the world’s most famous cross-country rally when it was run in South America in January this year, and finished 11th outright. They’re aiming for a better result next January.
Garland and Suzuki used ‘D-MAX One’ for this weekend’s outback classic; it was the prototype for the Dakar car, and finished fourth in the Condobolin 750 and third outright in the Australasian Safari last year, both test events for the Isuzu’s first run in Dakar. Their next event is this year’s Australasian Safari, which will be run in WA in August.
The Extreme 4WD class which Garland MotorSports contested is for highly modified 4WDs with engines under six litres. Their vehicle, hand-built in Garland’s Sydney workshop, puts out 160kW of power (up 33 per cent on the standard Isuzu D-MAX ute) and 500Nm of torque (@2000rpm, an increase of 39 per cent).
Sponsored by Tattersalls, the Finke race started in 1976 as a ‘there and back’ challenge for local bike riders but soon grew. Cars and buggies (specialist desert racers) were introduced in 1988.
Thousands of spectators camped by the side of the track to watch a huge field of 545 competitors (76 cars and buggies; 468 bikes and quads) head out from Alice Springs but a great number of those failed to finish.
Outright winner for the cars/buggies: Fellows/Kittle, Jimco 2000 (Pro Buggy)
Outright winner for Extreme 4WD: Bowman/Hardman, Nissan Patrol ute 
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