| 24/11/2012 | 0 Comments

Isuzu has built the most spectacular and powerful D-Max pick-up ever to take on the Dakar Rally, one of the most gruelling races on earth, in January 2013. 

Based on the robust underpinnings of a production Isuzu D-Max 4×4 double-cab, the Dakar-ready pick-up has been enhanced to increase performance and to withstand the rigours of over 5,000 miles of arduous terrain, between Lima, Peru and the finish in Santiago, Chile.

The vehicle is powered by an Isuzu-developed 3.0-litre (2,994cc) 16-valve common-rail turbo diesel engine, producing maximum power output of 242 horsepower and 589Nm of torque. The powerplant, based on a standard Isuzu engine, is mated to a four-wheel drive system and a sequential five-speed Hollinger gearbox and Xtreme rally clutch.
To protect the vehicle and its occupants against rock impacts and potential accidents, the chassis features custom-built, full-length eight millimetre aluminium skid plates, while the steel cab body is fitted with an integrated roll-cage and carbon-fibre panels that shield the pick-up’s key components.

Isuzu has added DBA Kangaroo Paw ventilated disc brakes with cross-drilled discs and Harrop aluminium racing callipers to give the racer incredible stopping power. The Isuzu D-Max Dakar rides on 16 x 7-inch ROH Trojan alloy wheels, shod with Toyo Open Country M/T-R tyres, for maximum ground clearance when traversing crests, dips and everything in between. The result of these upgrades is an even tougher pick-up than the road-going model, with exhilarating performance to match. Zero-to-62 mph is taken care of in just seven seconds (on dirt) and top speed has been recorded as high as 190kph.
The experienced Isuzu Motorsports International Off-Road Race Team has carried out all preparation of the vehicle, which will be piloted by Australian pair Bruce Garland (driver) and Harry Suzuki (co-driver).

The team, based in Australia, enjoyed success at the 2009 Dakar event with a previous-generation D-Max, finishing as the first diesel-powered pick-up in the field. “Less than 10 per cent of the field completed the entire course. What was impressive was that we were the first real ‘car’ home in a field dominated by purpose-built space-framed machines. The fact that the D-Max did get home, and did not even miss a beat is a huge achievement,” said Bruce.

Harry Suzuki, co-driver and director of Isuzu Motorsports, commented: “The Isuzu D-Max is the perfect Dakar machine. It has the ideal blend of rugged ability and performance, and race prepared by our specialist team, the Isuzu D-Max Dakar will deliver where it counts.” Suzuki continues: “While our Isuzu D-Max Dakar pick-up is purpose-built and race-prepared to withstand the punishment of the toughest motorsport event on the calendar, more than half of the vehicle is built using standard Isuzu production parts and is completely recognisable as a series Isuzu D-Max. This fact reinforces that Isuzu is the manufacturer of tough vehicles able to take on any terrain.”

“Each time we build a new D-MAX, they get better and better. This one is light years ahead of the one that finished 11th outright during the 2009 Dakar,” says Garland. “We used to have planes with propellers; now we have a jet! But it’s not just about making it faster – it’s still got to be strong, and this ute is better in all these areas than the previous utes. I’m really happy with it.”
The Sydney-based off-road racing star Bruce Garland made his come-back at this year’s Australasian Safari after an enforced lay-off of more than a year, the result of fracturing a vertebra during the 2011 Dakar Rally, and then having a heart attack while on holidays two months later. He had five bypasses done by the specialist team at Melbourne’s Monash Heart.

He and long-term co-driver Harry Suzuki have been tackling the 2012 Safari in preparation for the 2013 Dakar. Five times Australian Safari winner’s mission at his 16th start on home soil was to make the Isuzu D-MAX the first diesel to win the Australasian Safari. But Bruce Garland was not so lucky. During Leg 2 he clipped a fence post, which did such significant damage to the Isuzu D-Max he had to withdraw from the competition. “We had a bit of a team discussion about it, and decided we had to withdraw. It’s my 16th Safari and only the second time I’ve DNF’d so I really don’t like pulling out. Normally we’d try to fix it and keep going, but the sad fact is that Dakar has to be the priority. The car is due to be on a boat and heading overseas in 10 days’ time and we couldn’t risk a half-repair job and end up doing more damage. “Garland said.
The thirty-fifth-edition of the Dakar rally, and the fifth in South America, starts on 5 January 2013, finishing fifteen days later. The Isuzu D-Max Dakar will participate in the Car class – T2 (Cross Country Series Production vehicles).

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