Garland moves to third in Australasian Safari
- 28th August 2008, 9:08am
For Bruce and Harry Suzuki (Isuzu D-MAX) of Garland Motor Sport, and Pelle Wallentheim and Olle Ohlsson (Isuzu VehiCross) of Tubus Racing, it was another day of driving hard but smart – not only because it was such a long haul but also because there was only one hour allowed for servicing on arrival at the overnight stop.
“We had to look after the cars because of the limited service time,” says Bruce.
“If you wreck it, you don’t have enough time to fix it.”
Bruce and Harry took off slowly and built pace across the day, moving gradually up the leaderboard. But their progress was also partly due to some bad luck for their teammates, who went about 15km off track, before getting back on the right road.
Today’s leg started with a monster 232km stage, which was quickly followed by another stage of over 220km in length.
The route, a loop from Meekatharra and back again, headed into the Little Sandy Desert. Once in the desert country, it ventured into spinifex-encrusted sand plains, before skirting along the rough and rocky Carnarvon Ranges. It crossed very rough, tight, and twisty terrain, and followed a section of the Old Rabbit Proof Fence.
Light rain developed in Meekatharra during the day, but competitors had fine, yet windy, conditions on the stages, which were held to the north of the mining township. The temperature was in the mid- to high twenties.
Again, Bruce has described the D-MAX’s performance as sensational and points out that the diesel is using 80-100 litres less fuel each day than its petrol-engined rivals.
Despite some engine problems over the last few days, Steve Riley continues to hold the lead.
As of 7.30am eastern Australian time, full results were still not complete on the event site but they are Riley first, Harrington second and Garland third. Wallentheim had been running fourth in the previous stage but has not registered among the small number on the board in the final stage, apparently because of a wrong turn.
A full list of current times and placings will be issued as soon as it becomes available – and we’re still checking but we believe the stage win yesterday is the first time a diesel-engined vehicle has won a stage, at least in the recent history of the Safari.
Thursday’s programme will see the competitors head south west to Mt Magnet, where overcast conditions and some light rain is expected. Over 471km of stages await, including two stages of over 150km in length.
Both Bruce and Pelle are competing in the A5 category of the event, for unlimited 4WD recreational vehicles and Extreme 4WD vehicles.
Pelle’s VehiCross is in Category A5.1 for modified 4WD vehicles up to 3500cc. Bruce’s D-MAX is in Category A5.2, for modified 4WD vehicles over 3500cc.
While the D-MAX engine is 2999cc, because it is turbo-charged the rules state that all diesel engines with forced induction will have their capacity multiplied by a factor of 1.5 (by 1.7 if petrol) as per the current CAMS Cross-Country Technical Regulations.
The Australian and Swedish crews are competing in the 2008 Australasian Safari as the first stage of their attack on the 2009 Dakar Rally in Argentina. After WA, the two crews will take two Isuzu D-MAX utes built by Garland Motor Sports to contest the UAE Desert Challenge in late October.
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