Team Isuzu Diesel Mission endured major delays on the punishing 296.75km second leg of the UAE Desert Challenge on Tuesday, but both Isuzu D-Max drivers are confident that they can continue the test and development programme on Wednesday.

Bruce Garland and co-driver Harry Suzuki started well, but succumbed to the treacherous soft sand after the first passage control, where team mates Par ‘Pelle’ Wallentheim and Dan-Olov Ohlsson also lost over two and a half hours.

Garland was stuck in the soft sand and pushed the sentinel safety button on his D-Max to warn other vehicles that he was stationery. But another following vehicle was already on the ridge of a nearby sand dune and slithered into the side of the D-Max, the impact damaging Garland’s fuel system.

The Australian was unable to continue, but Wallentheim eventually resumed along the stage and reached the second passage control, only for event officials to take his time card on the grounds that it was late in the afternoon and they did not want vehicles out on the stage after dark for safety reasons.

Both crew members returned to the Moreeb Hill bivouac without their cars, but ‘Pelle’ returned with his mechanics to repair and collect his D-Max on Tuesday evening and Garland is hopeful that his will be repaired by the team overnight and both crews will restart at the rear of the field on Wednesday.

“It was a bit of a shocker for us today,” said a disappointed Garland. “We were running well, then we got stuck and then we had this problem at the sand dune. Both of us wanted to carry on, but event officials were reluctant to let us do that under the circumstances, so we will use the next three days to test and develop the car for the Dakar.”

The two Isuzu D-Max entries began the second leg in eighth and 20th positions on the road, with the earlier stage start of 08.51hrs for the first car benefiting all the entrants in terms of slightly cooler outside temperatures than they had faced with the later start from Abu Dhabi on Monday.

The pair were classified fourth and sixth in the diesel category and determined to climb up the leader board through the tricky sand dunes and along the treacherous sandy trails that defined leg two. Garland was the first of the Isuzu D-Max drivers to pass PC1, after Wallentheim had dropped around 25 minutes in the sand.

They were running 17th and 25th on the stage before their serious delays. Both drivers will incur substantial time penalties before the restart from Moreeb Hill on Wednesday.

The second leg was won by Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah, who extended his overall advantage over Russian Leonid Novitskiy to over 95 minutes with three days remaining.

Garland is enjoying competing against many of Europe and the Middle East’s top drivers during this week’s UAE Desert Challenge. “I think that the confrontation with the European teams is what we were looking forward to the most. We also wanted to test our D-Max in the extreme heat of the Middle East. We knew it would be very challenging and it proved so yesterday and today.”

There are numerous forms of motor sporting disciplines run under the auspices of the FIA, but rallying is sub-divided into two basic categories. There is the FIA World Rally Championship for modified passenger cars and cross-country rallies, such as the Australian Safari and the UAE Desert Challenge for four-wheel drive and SUV cars.

“The main difference is that for speed rallies like the WRC, drivers are able to practice on the actual course,” explains Garland. “There is a lot of information available about the tracks and the rally teams can study and prepare for the race.

“Cross-country rally officials do not give this information out about the track and the route to any competitors in advance. Each night, officials will give out information on the route for the following day, so competitors have no chance to practice at all. The key to success in cross-country rallies is the experience of the driver and the navigator, with the performance of the car and preparation to face all kinds of terrain.”

Wednesday is the second of the loop sections through the sand dunes and Bedouin trails around Moreeb Hill and offers a selective section of 340.60km in a total route of 394.34km. After a 54.30km run out to the stage start, there will be four passage controls at the 74.12km, 167.55km, 225.52km and 284km points, before teams return for a third night at Moreeb Hill. The event finishes in Dubai on Friday, October 31st.

2008 UAE Desert Challenge - positions on leg 2 (unofficial):    
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC (3.0-litre diesel - 1.2)    4h 08m 27s
2. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (UAE) Nissan Patrol (4.0 V6 gasoline - 2.1)     5h 18m 07s
3. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS)/Oleg Tyupenkin (RUS) BMW X3 CC (3.0-litre diesel - 1.2)    5h 25m 17s
*TBA. Par Wallentheim (S)/Dan-Olov Ohlsson (S) Isuzu D-Max (3-0 litre diesel – 1.2)    TBA
*TBA. Bruce Garland (AUS)/Harry Suzuki (J) Isuzu D-Max (3.0-litre diesel – 1.2)    TBA

* Times not available, pending imposing of time penalties

2008 UAE Desert Challenge - positions after leg 2 (unofficial):   
1. Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (QA)/Tina Thörner (S) BMW X3 CC (3.0-litre diesel - 1.2)    6h 37m 56s
2. Leonid Novitskiy (RUS)/Oleg Tyupenkin (RUS) BMW X3 CC (3.0-litre diesel - 1.2)    8h 12m 57s
3. Yayha Al-Helai (UAE)/Khalid Al-Kendi (UAE) Nissan Patrol (4.0 V6 gasoline - 2.1)     8h 21m 58s

*TBA. Par Wallentheim (S)/Dan-Olov Ohlsson (S) Isuzu D-Max (3-0 litre diesel – 1.2)    TBA
*TBA. Bruce Garland (AUS)/Harry Suzuki (J) Isuzu D-Max (3.0-litre diesel – 1.2)    TBA

* Times not available, pending imposing of time penalties
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