Bruce Garland and co-driver Hiraoke (Harry) Suzuki and their Isuzu D-MAX ute finished as first diesel and third in the class (Extreme 4WD) in the 2009 Tattersalls Finke Desert Race on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.They were second in class in the first run down the 226km rough and sandy track between Alice Springs and the tiny Aboriginal settlement of Finke, but the second day was a rougher, slower run back up to the finish line, littered with the wreckage of many competitors’ cars and bikes.
Bruce Garland and co-driver Hiraoke (Harry) Suzuki and their Isuzu D-MAX ute finished as first diesel and third in the class (Extreme 4WD) in the 2009 Tattersalls Finke Desert Race on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.
They were second in class in the first run down the 226km rough and sandy track between Alice Springs and the tiny Aboriginal settlement of Finke, but the second day was a rougher, slower run back up to the finish line, littered with the wreckage of many competitors’ cars and bikes.
“We had a puncture on the return leg. There was debris from broken buggies all over the track and we snagged the tyre on a piece of metal which lost us a bit of time, and probably cost us the second spot,” Bruce Garland said.
“Monday was definitely a much slower day. We had a good run on Sunday but the track was badly cut up for the return run this morning after all yesterday’s traffic and we had some pretty hard landings in some spots.
“Obviously we’d have liked to be further up the order, but we’ve learned a lot from the event. Murray Coote’s suspension improvements are terrific and made for a much smoother and more comfortable ride, and the new Bridgestone all-terrain tyres were really good – they gave us plenty of grip – so it all goes into the mix for what lies ahead,” Garland added.
This year’s Finke Desert Race was step one of Garland and Suzuki’s preparations towards competing in the 2010 Dakar Rally. They were the first diesel ute home and the highest-placed production-chassis car in the world’s most gruelling cross-country rally when it was run in South America last January, and finished 11th outright. They’re aiming for a better result next January.
Garland and Suzuki used ‘D-MAX One’ for the Finke; it was the prototype for the Dakar car, and finished fourth in last year’s Condobolin 750 and third outright in the Australasian Safari , both test events for the D-Max’s first run in Dakar. Their next event is this year’s Australasian Safari, which will be run in WA in August.
The Extreme 4WD class which Garland Motor Sports contested was for highly modified 4WDs with petrol engines under six litres and diesels under 7.2 litres. Their D-Max, hand-built in Garland’s outer Sydney workshop, is relatively mildly uprated in engine output with 160kW of maximum power—up 33 per cent on the standard Isuzu D-MAX’s 3-litre turbo-diesel— and 500Nm of torque @2000rpm, an increase of 39 per cent.
Sponsored by Tattersalls, the Finke is claimed to be the richest off-road race in the Southern Hemisphere, and the biggest, with 545 competitors, comprising 468 bikers (including, incredibly, a paraplegic) and quads and 76 cars. It started in 1976 as a ‘there and back’ challenge for local bike riders but soon grew. Cars and buggies were introduced in 1988.
Thousands of spectators evacuated Alice Springs and camped out by the side of the track to watch the huge field blast down and back over the huge bumps, ruts and ’whoop-de-doos’ along the old railway service road route.
Outright winner of the Finke was David Fellows/AndrewKittle in a US-sourced Jimco 2000 Pro-Buggy.
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