Isuzu Motorsports finishes strongly at Oz Safari
The 2014 Australasian Safari has been run and won, with Isuzu Motorsports claiming three class wins including a first in the production class.
ISUZU MOTORSPORTS team owners, and Dakar regulars, Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki were in fourth outright until an electrical gremlin caused them to retire on Day Three and saw them lose two full days repairing their Dakar-spec Isuzu D-MAX (and being handed extra time penalties for failing to finish those days). They eventually got up and running again and finished in 17th place.
Western Australia’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. According to ‘Roj’ Pedersen says the final day was the toughest: “Two kilometres into the stage 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.
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.
In addtion to the three Isuzu Motorsport entrants, there were two other teams being helped by Garland and Suzuki. 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.
The 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 – continued well into the night.