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Dakar 2015 is just around the corner

January is going to be a big one for carheads with the Detroit Motor Show and the Dakar 2015 Rally. Watch the Dakar teaser video.

THE YEAR IS almost over and the world’s most gruelling race is about to begin. Yep, Dakar 2015 is just around the corner (4 – 17 January). A total of 665 competitors from 53 nations will start Dakar in Buenos Aires in 414 vehicles: 164 motorcycles, 138 cars, 48 quad bikes and 64 trucks. The event is a loop course, finishing in Buenos Aires on January 17.

Australia’s Isuzu Motorsports will campaign one Isuzu MU-X ‘International FIA T2’ production class 4WD (race number 407) with West Australian driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki (NSW). The duo, and the other 414 vehicles are hoping to cover 9111km (4578 of them being competitive stages) through Argentina, Bolivia and Chile over 14 days.

The Isuzu Motorsports MU-X will only have safety and minor modifications whereas the FIA T1 cars can be heavily modified.

Dakar 2015 is about to begin

In a statement, Di Lallo said he is humbled and excited at the prospect of competing in the new MU-X with Isuzu Motorsports. “I feel as prepared as I can be for Dakar – it’s one of those events that can throw anything at you at any time.”

Di Lallo completed his first Dakar in 2013 in an Isuzu D-MAX ‘FIA T1’ car with an outstanding finish of 38th outright, 101 places higher than his start place.

“With the knowledge and experienced I gained last time, I am confident we can complete the task and cross the finish line.

Built from a showroom-spec 4×4 model, the Isuzu Motorsports MU-X retains its standard 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine but has been tuned to maximum capacity to produce close to 180kW and 600Nm of torque (up from 130kW/380Nm).

The high-torque diesel engine handles desert and tough road conditions with better fuel economy than its petrol counterparts, which means less fuel to travel the same distance reducing the car’s overall weight.

From near-showroom spec Isuzu MU-X to the most successful truck team, Hino Team Sugawara is hoping to claim a sixth consecutive class victory at the 2015 Dakar Rally. 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of Hino becoming the first Japanese manufacturer to enter the rally in 1991.

The team’s trucks, both loosely based on the medium duty Hino 500 Series, have completed a shake-down at Rally Mongolia in preparation for Dakar 2015. The team line-up for 2015 consists of father and son drivers Yoshimasa and Teruhito Sugawara, navigators Yoko Wakabayashi and Hiroyuki Sugiura, as well as a team of Hino dealer mechanics and support personnel.

Truck No. 2’s 8.9-litre engine – which used Hino’s direct injection system for the first time to take second position in the under 10-litre class in 2014 – will be carried over. The same engine and injection system will be added to a newly built truck No. 1.

For Dakar 2015 Hino Team Sugawara has developed a completely new suspension system which uses alternative leaf springs with softer settings and adds a torque rod to better locate the axles. Both drivers have praised its ability to deliver power to the ground.

Teruhito Sugawara echoed the team’s confidence when talking about their expectations for 2015.

“In our next race, it goes without saying that we will be aiming for our sixth straight championship in the Under 10-litre Class,” Teruhito said.

“But in addition, we will also be aiming to finish with high rankings in the overall Trucks category to let the world know Hino Japan is a force to be reckoned with.”

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober