An errant spare wheel has ended the gallant 2010 Dakar Rally effort of Australian driver Bruce Garland and co-driver Hiroaki (‘Harry’) Suzuki on the event’s 418 km sixth special stage from Antofagasta to Iquique in Chile.

His Isuzu D-MAX’s spare wheel dislodged from its special rear tub mounting on the rough trackless wastes after being hastily refitted by Garland after he used it as a safety auxiliary stand while effecting some minor underbody repairs.

The wheel bounced forward, hitting and cracking the rear-mounted radiator and causing the engine to overheat.  Garland then had to depart the rally route and limp to the stage end via the highway, whereupon the rally stewards ruled him out of the event.

“We’d fixed the problem but it put us back last on the road, behind all those trucks and their blinding dust, ruts and rocks,” said Garland.

“We were going alright and wouldn’t have lost our overall road position until the spare wheel flew off when we hit yet another of the many washaways in this talcum-powder filled furnace.

“We patched up the water leak but we’d lost too much coolant and the lack of cooling with a tailwind meant we had to back off.

“I reckon I’ve got about 100kg of dust in my belly,” Garland said ruefully. 
Garland had hovered around 20th outright throughout the event and was looking to consolidate his position as more of the speedier specials up front were claimed by the conditions in the enduro’s second week ahead. He’d had a torrid time yesterday, caught behind one of the 12-tonne truck competitors and eating its blinding dust for 200km while fighting a chest infection.

Their Swedish teammates Pelle Wallentheim and Olle Ohlsson finished 43rd fastest on the stage, enough to hoist them up three places to 23rd position, their best yet. 

The latest stage featured dune crossings, fast off-piste tracks through bone dry wastelands and mountainous walls of sand – the last a three kilometre slide down in view of the Pacific Ocean to the overnight seaside camp.

At the front end of the field, previous rally leader Stéphane Peterhansel (BMW X3 CC) bounced back from his stage five transmission failure and 33rd place, to claim outright victory for the day and eighth overall

But the outright lead still belongs to the VW Race Touareg trio of Carlos Sainz, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Mark Miller. Defending champion Giniel de Villiers is 16th, also in a Race-Touareg, while American NASCAR driver Robby Gordon (Hummer H3 RWD), who was third last year (Miller was second), is currently in sixth.

Friday’s stage (tonight, Australian time) takes the competitors south to Antofagasta again, the last stage before Saturday’s rest day. A short 37km liaison section guides crews to the start of the longest special stage of the entire rally – a daunting 600km competitive challenge, which finishes just four kilometres from the coastal city. The stage features seven passage controls and two refuelling points for the bikes.
Event officials reckon that this will be the most varied special of the entire Dakar, featuring sand dunes, an unusual area called the salar (crystallized salt blocks) – where speeds may drop as low as 10km/h – and faster and rockier sections to the finish. The rulebook permits competitors to reach the rest day by 18.00hrs the following day – such is the potential severity of the stage.

They have now completed three stages each in Argentina and Chile. Continuing their 9030km journey, there are four more stages in Chile (plus a rest day on Saturday) before the ‘caravan’ crosses the Andes back into Argentina on January 13 for four stages and the official finish back in Buenos Aires on Sunday, January 17th  (Monday 18th am AEDT).

SBS is the official telecaster of Dakar 2010 and there are regular updates on the team’s performance also on the SBS website (; SBS ONE is screening daily highlights daily at 6pm AEDT until Monday, January 18 and then a one-hour Dakar review from 11am to 12noon on Sunday, January 24.

Garland and Suzuki were driving an Isuzu D-MAX 4x4 ute, built in Garland’s Sydney backyard. Wallentheim was in a Garland MotorSports template D-MAX prepared in his Swedish base. The standard 3.0-litre turbo-diesel production engine has been slightly tweaked for better performance, especially for the high altitude sections of the event. It has maximum torque of 600Nm – up 66 per cent on the standard roadgoing D-MAX ute – and peak power of 180kW, which is 50 per cent more than the standard vehicle. It competed in Class T1.2, which is modified 4WD diesel.

In 2009, Garland and Suzuki finished 11th outright and were first ‘amateur’ (non-factory team) home. Their D-MAX was the top diesel ute and first production chassis car. Their Swedish teammates (Tubus Racing) finished 44th outright.

The Dakar Rally is the world’s premier off-road endurance competition. First staged in 1979, it was traditionally run in Europe and Africa, but moved to South America in 2009 because of safety concerns. The 2008 race – the last to be held in Africa – was cancelled on the eve of the start after the deaths of four French tourists. Their killers had links to the Al Qaeda terrorist network and threatened Dakar Rally organisers and competitors.

The rally had claimed 112 vehicles by the start of today’s sixth special stage, just 250 survivors from the 362 which left the official start ramp in Buenos Aires on New Year’s Day.

Get full, exclusive access for only $6.55/month.
  • Full access
  • Exclusive news
  • Store & Tour discounts

Show Your Support


Recent Posts