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Garland Declares New Isuzu Ready to Fire in the Finke


Bruce Garland Finke 2014

In an ominous warning to his rivals, Bruce Garland says the new Isuzu he will debut in this weekend’s Finke Desert Race is better than he was expecting.

The Sydney-based off-road racing legend has entered the famous outback event over the Queen’s birthday weekend (June 7-9). He and long-time co-driver Harry Suzuki will be driving the all-new 2014 Isuzu MU-X family SUV in its international off-road racing debut.

“The car is awesome, really good straight out of the box,” Garland says.

“We’ve spent a couple of days testing on roads similar to what we’ll be facing with the Finke and it is really good to drive really fast on dirt. We cannot believe what a basic stock-standard car can do.

“It’s a lot better than we thought it would be, so obviously the Isuzu engineers have done a really good job on the chassis. We thought we were doing a shakedown, but there’s not much fine-tuning to be done – the engineers from Kings Shocks have been with us and they’ve had virtually nothing to do.”

The car – Isuzu’s first entry into the world of seven-seat family transport – is powered by a three-litre turbo diesel. Standard power and torque figures are130kW/380NM, but this vehicle is expected to pump out around 195kW/600Nm.

Garland hasn’t been chasing huge increases – the MU-X is entered in Class Seven for Production 4WD (diesel, not exceeding 7200cc), which means it remains close to stock-standard and a ‘slightly slower’ experience than in the high-speed, modified, high-performance Class Eight (Extreme 4WD) competition that he has dominated in the past.

“We’ve also used the test time to try some new Toyo tyres and we’re very happy with the results. They’re always a good product and these new All Terrains certainly don’t disappoint. They’ll work well for us.

“Obviously we’re praying for rain. We always find the Isuzus perform well in the wet, and when you combine a good car with Toyo tyres, the crew performs well too! So we’ll find time to do a little rain dance before everything gets started on Saturday.”

While there is no commitment as yet to the 2015 Dakar Rally – that depends on finding the right amount of funding – everything the team is doing with this car and this race has that as its focus.

The 39th annual Finke classic is a logical starting point for the Garland Motorsports campaign, given the Dakar-like punishment it will dish out. This year’s run over the two-day, 460km race will be Garland’s 14th start in the event.

Thousands of spectators are expected to line the rough desert track between Alice Springs and the small Aputula (Finke) community as more than 600 competitors (cars, buggies, 4WDs, bikes and quads) tackle one of the world’s most difficult off-road courses in one of the world’s most remote areas.

After a Prologue on Saturday, June 7 to determine the starting order, competitors race through the desert and across one of the oldest rivers in the world (the Finke) before camping out overnight at the Aboriginal settlement. Any damage done on Day One (Sunday) must be fixed during the overnight stop before the field tackles the return run to Alice Springs on the holiday Monday.

Sponsored by Tattersalls, the Finke is the richest off-road race in the Southern Hemisphere. It started in 1976 as a ‘there and back’ challenge for local bike riders but soon grew. Cars and buggies (specialist desert racing vehicles) were introduced in 1988.

Garland Motorsports races with support from Toyo Tires, Royal Purple Oils and Disc Brakes Australia.