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A minor glitch with a disconnected turbo hose and a few minutes of lost time have failed to be a drama for the Isuzu Motorsports’ D-MAX ute, now in fourth place after Day One of the 2012 Australasian Safari.

Bruce Garland and long-time navigator Harry Suzuki started in sixth place for the first day of competition after posting the sixth fastest time in yesterday’s prologue (time trial) to determine starting order – but around 300km later, they had moved two spots higher on the leader board.

“We lost a turbo hose in the second stage and had no boost, which cost us a few minutes, but we managed to fix it for Stage Three and the car was much better,” Garland says.

“Otherwise everything is great. The tyres are terrific and the car is running really well. We had a fantastic run along the beach for the first stage (18.21km) and then there were some high-speed sandy tracks for stage two (106.75km), which is where we had the trouble.

“Stage Three (72.36km) was a bit rough, but all in all it was a good day. I think we’re a lot more dialled in than we were yesterday, and the D-MAX is going well, so we’ll just keep doing what we are doing.

“Tomorrow is looking like a long, tough day. We have two stages, which are two of the longest stages of the event, but that will suit us. We pace ourselves well on stages like that, and we’re happy to be sitting where we are, rather than out the front sweeping the road. So we’ll see what the situation is, this time tomorrow.”

The 27th running of the Australasian Safari began with a ceremonial start in the Western Australian capital city of Perth on Friday night, before competitors travelled 425km north, to the coastal city of Geraldton where the event began in earnest today. It will end in Geraldton next Saturday (September 29), after 3000km.
The Sydney-based offroad champion is making his 16th start at the Safari after an enforced lay-off of more than a year, the result of fracturing a vertebra during the 2011 Dakar Rally, and then having a heart attack while on holiday two months later. He had five bypasses done by the specialist team at Melbourne’s MonashHeart.
He and long-term co-driver Harry Suzuki are tackling the Safari in preparation for the 2013 Dakar, which will run through Chile, Argentina and Peru next January. The pair’s best result in the Safari of recent years was third outright in 2010 – and first diesel home.
The 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine in Garland’s latest ‘home-built’ D-MAX produces approximately 181kW of peak power and 589Nm of maximum torque, compared to 130kW and 380Nm respectively, for the standard Isuzu
D-MAX engine.
Tomorrow’s route is made up of two competitive stages, which will take competitors from Kalbarri (592km north of Perth, at the mouth of the Murchison River) to Carnarvon (900km north of Perth, at the mouth of the Gascoyne River, both on the Indian Ocean). Stage Four is 230.35km long and Stage Five is 260.62km long.

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