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Isuzu Motorsports’ rookie Adrian Di Lallo has finished an impressive 38th outright in his first attempt at the marathon two-week-long Dakar Rally in South America.

Di Lallo (WA) and experienced co-driver Steve Riley (Victoria) have been flying the Isuzu Motorsports flag after their more experienced team leader, Bruce Garland (NSW), was forced to withdraw on Day 12, the engine of his 2012 Isuzu D-MAX destroyed by a contaminated batch of diesel fuel.

Today, Di Lallo and Riley (Red Earth Motorsport, Isuzu D-MAX; car 439) travelled from La Serena to Santiago, the capital of Chile, with a timed special stage of 188km and 502km of liaison (transport).

They finished in 29th place, which puts them in 38th place outright. Just 93 cars of the original 153 starters lined up for the final stage that rounded out a journey of around 8500km from the start in Lima, Peru on January 5, and took them as high as 5000m in the Andes Mountains.

“We pushed hard today because the conditions on the special stage suited our car and the Toyo Dakar-spec tyres,” says Di Lallo.
“We’re happy with where we finished, although the fact we were in dust for much of the special prevented us from posting a better time. But I feel very thrilled to have arrived.
“I can’t thank my wife and my crew enough for their dedication and unwavering support and Steve, of course. He had a huge part to play in our safe arrival, bringing his vast experience to the cockpit and keeping me calm and on course.”

Di Lallo and Riley completed the rally in the rebuilt 2008 Isuzu D-MAX that took Garland and co-driver Harry Suzuki to an incredible 11th outright and first diesel ute home in 2009.
Garland was hoping to equal or beat that result this year, two years after breaking his back in the 2011 rally and having a heart attack and five coronary bypasses two months later. Instead, the dream started coming apart early last week with a series of problems that slowed his pace before the fuel fill that would prove to be a disaster.

“It’s not a good feeling to be on the Dakar Rally and getting towed,” says Garland.
“And you wouldn’t read about it, even the tow truck broke down today. Whatever could go wrong has gone wrong for us this year, but we are alive and uninjured so that’s a plus! All we need now is a decent steak and salad – our first real meal for a couple of weeks – and we will be a whole lot happier!

“Obviously we are still really disappointed at what has happened, but we are really proud of Adrian and Steve. They have driven a really consistent race and they deserve the result they’ve achieved.
“We believe they may be the first diesel ute home, as we were in 2009, and Adrian may also take out rookie in that class, but we won’t really know that until the podium finish tomorrow. We’re all looking forward to the party!”
The other ‘competition’ member of the Isuzu Motorsports team is service crewmember Richie Hayes. He was in a MAN truck, racing in the truck category with two Spanish drivers – a trio that has provided a huge amount of support to Garland and Suzuki over the last week. They came home in 54th outright. Just 61 trucks of the original 75 starters lined up for the final stage.

Based in Sydney, Australia, Isuzu Motorsports International Off-Road Racing Team is the motor racing operation of Bruce Garland Motorsports and Harry Suzuki, owner of Isuzu Motorsports. Isuzu D-MAX cars built and prepared by Bruce Garland Motorsports and Harry Suzuki have competed and succeeded in both rally and off-road events around the world.

Overall result after 14 stages:

1. Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret – Mini All4: 38h 32m 39s
2. Giniel De Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz – Toyota HiLux: 39h 15m 01s
3. Leonid Novitskiy/Konstantin Zhiltsov – Mini All4: 40h 01m 01s
4. ‘Nani’ Roma/Michel Périn – Mini All4: 40h 09m 22s
5. Orlando Terranova/Paulo Fiuza – X3 CC BMW: 40h 21m 49s 
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