A sensational effort by the two Isuzu Rally crews on Day Three of the Dakar Rally has put them into the top 50.

Pelle Wallentheim/Olle Ohlsson (Tubus Racing; car 447) seemed to have a relatively uneventful day to finish 34th quickest on the stage, which puts them in 36th outright. Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki (Garland MotorSports; car 362) appeared to move up and back in the field but eventually finished the day in 47th for 46th outright.

Up the front, it was Nasser Al-Attiyah (BMW) who was the fastest on the day, to secure his second stage win of the event.

Having lost the lead to dual world rally champion Carlos Sainz (VW) during Stage Two, Al-Attiyah set about moving back up the order after a trip off-course on Sunday saw him slip from first place down to fourth.

On the stage, Dieter Depping and de Villiers (both VW) were third and fourth quickest ahead of Stephane Peterhansel (Mitsubishi) but overall it is Sainz, Al Attiyah and De Villiers, with nine-time Dakar champion, Stéphane Peterhansel in fourth.

Originally known as the Paris-Dakar, the Dakar Rally has been staged in Africa since 1978, but last year’s event was cancelled on the eve of the start after terrorists killed seven people in the area and made direct threats to the organisers of the rally, hence the move to South America.

The new event will take competitors 9500km (including 5600km of special stages) from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso in Chile and back (January 3-17), via the Andes Mountains and the Atacama Desert, said to be the driest place on earth. The event will travel to a height of 4700m, the highest in the rally’s 31-year history.

Garland/Suzuki and Wallentheim/Ohlsson are driving two Isuzu D-Max utes, hand-built in Garland’s Sydney workshop. They put out 160kW of power (up 33 per cent on the standard vehicle) and 500Nm of torque (@2000rpm; up 39 per cent).

Their results so far:

Day One:        Garland/Suzuki 51st O/R; Wallentheim/Ohlsson 67th O/R
Day Two:        Wallentheim/Ohlsson 61st O/R (64th on stage); Garland/Suzuki 65thO/R (72nd on stage)

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