Australian team Isuzu Motorsports is ready to compete in the gruelling Dakar off-road endurance race that begins with a ceremonial start in Buenos Aires on January 3, 2015. In an Isuzu MU-X ‘International FIA T2’ production class car sporting race number 407, Western Australian driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki (NSW) will cover 9,111 kilometres, of which 4,578 kilometres are competitive stages, through Argentina, Bolivia and Chile over 14 days.
The ‘International FIA T2’ production class permits only safety and minimum modification to vehicles, whereas the ‘FIA T1’ full-specification competition Dakar car is heavily modified and often has little similarity to the one on the showroom floor except for the body shape.
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,” the 40-year-old said.
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. “I’m really grateful to the team who have all be super helpful – I’d especially like to acknowledge Harry Suzuki for the opportunity to drive for Isuzu Motorsports.”
For experienced co-driver Harry Suzuki, this will be his fifth Dakar start. “I’ve finished one Dakar and after this year, I hope I can say I’ve finished two,” Suzuki said.
“The MU-X proved itself at the Australasian Safari – and like there, I expect that it will only need minimal servicing at night – it’s an easy car to maintain.”
Suzuki acknowledged long-term business partner Bruce Garland for his help and expertise testing and preparing the car for Dakar.
Built from a showroom-spec 4×4 model, the Isuzu MU-X retains its standard three-litre turbo-diesel engine but has been tuned to maximum capacity to produce close to 180kW of power 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.
Di Lallo explained that having a good team with the right dynamic was critical for success.
“Every team member has an import role to fulfil. It’s not just about the driver, it takes a whole team to work together to get results at Dakar and it’s great that we all get along so well – that’s really important when you’re in such close quarters.
“We have the right mix of youthful exuberance, experience and wisdom to get a good result – I can’t wait!” Di Lallo said.
Isuzu Motorsports finished the 2013 Dakar in 38th outright (Di Lallo / Riley) and its best result achieved in 2009 in the ‘FIA T1’ specification D-MAX finishing 11th outright (Garland / Suzuki).
Designed to be the ultimate test between man and machine, the Dakar setting and pace will change each day, moving from rocky routes to desert dunes, from endurance stages to extreme sprints. Stage 7 is a marathon stage, split over two days and permits only competitors to work on their cars overnight without the assistance from their service crew. On the marathon stage, competitors will stay overnight in an isolated bivouac at the Uyuni salt plains. A total of 665 competitors from 53 nations will start Dakar in Buenos Aires on January 4, 2015 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, 2015.