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Five out of five is a good score in any game, but particularly when it means the whole team has crossed the finish line after the gruelling 2014 Australasian Safari cross-country rally.

Sydney-based Isuzu Motorsports has taken out three class wins in the seven-day event which covered more than 3000km of the Western Australian outback.

WA’s Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Rodger ‘Roj’ Pedersen were the best placed of the three official Isuzu Motorsports entries, their production-class Isuzu MU-X wagon in fifth outright and first in class in their home state event.

‘Roj’ Pedersen says the final day of the event was the toughest stage of the week.

“Two kilometres into the stage we lost four-wheel-drive and it was pouring with rain and muddy. Bucketing down and really hard going. We brushed a tree and got lost – so did most others actually – and we lost a lot of time trying to find the right way, but we made it.

“I feel really good now, you know, tired, but it's a great feeling to finish Safari.  Sitting next to Adrian, and the whole experience, it’s been awesome.”

Thailand’s Olan Sornsirirat and Veerachai Thorangkoon – the third team in the official ‘Isuzu trio’ – were second in class behind Di Lallo and Pedersen, and seventh outright in their D-MAX ute.

Team leaders Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki came in 17th and took a class win, despite missing two full days repairing their Dakar-spec Isuzu D-MAX (and being handed extra time penalties for failing to finish those days). Their car was halted by an electrical fault 37km into Day Three while running in fourth place.

Aside from the strong results posted by the official Isuzu Motorsports entrants, the two other Isuzu crews being helped by the Garland/Suzuki team have also come home well.

The Thai-entered D-MAX crewed by Vorapot Bunchuaylua and Chupong Chaiwan came home in sixth and first in class, while the Isuzu MU-X being campaigned by Safari stalwart Reg Owen and co-driver Russell Cairns finished second in the same class and 13th outright.

“We’ve ended up with a really great result with the team, and all the cars went really well – it’s just a fantastic feeling,” says Garland.

“Today was unbelievable with the rain bucketing down. A whole lot of us got lost and then Steve Riley [who had been leading the event] got stuck in a ditch and a bunch of us helped pull him out. We got soaking wet and covered in mud, but we still had a good time. That’s what Safari is all about.

“All of the Isuzu Motorsports vehicles were better off than so many of the others. They were all slipping and sliding all over the place today, or getting punctures all the time in the rough stuff, but our Toyo tyres do the job for us, no matter whether it’s wet or dry.”

Competitors tackled three stages today, taking them from Exmouth – the gateway to the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area – to Carnarvon, where the Gascoyne River meets the Indian Ocean, around 900km north of the West Australian capital of Perth.

Saturday’s final stage – the 156.69km ‘Murchison Mega Finale’, and a lengthy transport stage before it – took competitors from Carnarvon to Kalbarri, where the Murchison River meets the Indian Ocean, 592km north of Perth,. The celebrations – after seven days and more than 3000km of endurance racing – are expected to continue well into the night.

The 2014 Australasian Safari kicked off in Perth, with a ceremonial start, last Friday night and full competition began in Geraldton, 424km north of Perth on Sunday, September 21. Open to cars, buggies, bikes and quads, only 20 of the original 35 starters in the car category completed the course.

Isuzu Motorsports is a performance parts company owned by Garland and his long-time co-driver, Harry Suzuki. They also have support from Isuzu operations in Japan, Thailand and Australia, and from Toyo Tires, Royal Purple Oils and Disc Brakes Australia.

OVERALL RESULTS AFTER DAY SEVEN (* all results provisional at time of writing)

1. David McShane / William Hayes – Toyota Tacoma – 26:17:25br> 2. Greg Scanlon / Liam Nunns – Nissan Patrol – 27:25:48
3. Steve Riley / John Doble – Holden VF – 27:35:03

5. Adrian Di Lallo / Rodger Pedersen – Isuzu MU-X – 29:00:02
6. V. Bunchuaylua / C. Chaiwan – Isuzu D-MAX – 32:17:22
7. O. Sornsirirat / V. Thorangkoon – Isuzu D-MAX – 33:29:15

13. Reg Owen / Russell Cairns – Isuzu MU-X – 41:05:28

17. Bruce Garland / Harry Suzuki – Isuzu D-MAX – 53:03:18   

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