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Australian Dakar Rally veteran Bruce Garland is set to race again, less than a year after fracturing a vertebra and having major heart surgery.

Garland and long-time navigator Harry Suzuki have entered the ARB Silver City 600 Cross Country Rally to be run near Broken Hill over the weekend of November 5-6.

The Sydney-based duo has not raced since Garland fractured a vertebra during the Dakar Rally in Chile in January this year. Two months later he suffered a heart attack while on holidays in Melbourne and was operated on at MonashHeart, having five bypasses in the process. Since then he has been focussed on a ‘come back’.

“I’m feeling great and really looking forward to getting out there again,” says Garland.

“Obviously I’m going there hoping to win, but it’s also about having fun and catching up with some old mates. I’ve always said you should never do anything without having the fun meter ticking because life is short, and that was brought home to me big-time this year, so that’s what we’ll be doing.

“Of course, aside from that, the real aim of the exercise is to see how I’m travelling post-surgery plus do a bit of tyre testing. Both aspects are important because we’re well down the road of preparing to compete in the Dakar again, in 2013.

“We’re really happy with our Toyo Tyres. We have several different tyres to run over the weekend, to see how they handle that sort of terrain. While it is a brand-new event, we have a fair idea of what to expect from the tracks out there, and it is very similar to some of the conditions we’ve experienced in South America, so it’s a really good place to do the testing.”

The experienced offroad racing crew will drive the Isuzu D-MAX ute that they were racing in this year’s Dakar – but it is not the only one they have entered in the event.

Garland’s Isuzu Motorsport operation will also run the ute campaigned in the 2010 Dakar, which will be crewed by Garland’s brothers Phillip Kay and David Garland. The third car in the team is the ute that took Garland and Suzuki to 11th outright in the 2009 Dakar and it will be crewed by Australasian Safari regulars, Adrian Dilallo and Rob Masi.

The new event has been created along the lines of the famous Australasian Safari – which Garland has won five times – and the Condobolin 750. It will be based out of the Broken Hill racecourse, with around 600km of competitive stages run on private land. Entries are open to cross country rally cars, extreme class 4x4 vehicles, and off-road racing vehicles including two-wheel drive vehicles and buggies. 
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