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A huge day of racing marked Day Two of the 2013 Australasian Safari – and a move up the field for Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki.

Competing under the banner of Team Toyo and their own company, Isuzu Motorsports, the veteran cross-country rally crew has improved from 17th to 12th outright of the 23 auto competitors after Leg Two of the seven-day West Australian enduro.

Three stages totalling 667km took the competitors from Kalbarri to Gascoyne Junction, and the day was not without incident – several competitors came unstuck in the conditions including long-time Garland rival, Kees Weel. He and co-driver John Panozzo walked away with minor injuries after hitting ruts in the third stage and barrel-rolling their Holden Colorado.  

Leg Two began with 50km of well-travelled coastal tracks heading north, which in places were rough, sandy and rocky.  It changed to low scrub coastal country including Nerrin Nerrin and Coburn Stations. The first stage finished with a rally-type road known as ‘Snake Road’ heading into the Hamelin Service Area.

In Stage Two competitors tackled sandy tracks, rough and rocky patches, low swamp fences, fence lines and ‘mill runs’ through Hamelin, Carbla, Yaringa and Wooramel Stations. Stage Three provided more twist and turns then dune country into Jimba Jimba Station, finishing up with a mixed bag of tight twisty tracks, narrow fence tracks and low creek country.

Garland, who has returned to racing two months after prostate cancer surgery, always says an enduro race is not won in the first few days and yesterday was a perfect example of the ‘slow and steady’ battle plan in action.

Rather than their usual high-performance ‘Dakar-spec’ Isuzu D-MAX, the duo is driving an almost stock-standard D-MAX in the international T2 class. It covers 4WD vehicles with minor modifications, basically limited to some shock absorber changes and the fitting of required safety equipment.

As such, Team Toyo won’t be challenging the performance front-runners for outright honours but is optimistic of a solid, reliable run and a class victory.

The 2013 Australasian Safari is in its 28th year. It kicked off with a ceremonial start in Perth and will finish in Geraldton this Friday, September 27, after travelling around 3200km.

Today’s racing (Leg Three) consists of two stages, one of 147.15km and the second of 288.64m, for a loop around Gascoyne Junction, a small town inland from Carnarvon (900km north of Perth) on the junction of the Gascoyne River and Lyons River. At the 2006 census, Gascoyne Junction had a population of 149.

Garland and Suzuki are due to start at 8.49am WA time (10.49a, Eastern Australian time). They are contesting the seven-day endurance race for the 17th time, and have won it five times. 
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