The legendary Australian off-road race team had one last dune practice for the event last week, using their older 2010 Dakar D-MAX-turned recce truck.
The duo's 2013 entry - a specially built 2012 model D-MAX racer - is already loaded onto a ship bound for Peru for the start of the Dakar.
This new truck has been well and truly run-in, with the Sydney-based Isuzu Motorsports team entering the Finke Desert Race and Australasian Safari rallies earlier this year in preparation for Dakar.
The 2013 Dakar will be the team’s fourth entry in the event, with their most impressive result being 11th outright in 2009 (in a field of 177 competitors).
A loose spare wheel ended their 2010 hopes when it punctured the D-MAX racer’s tray-mounted radiator, and their 2011 effort ended when Garland fractured a vertebra during a hard landing.
Compounding this setback, Garland suffered a heart attack just months later, requiring a quintuple heart bypass and precluding the team from a 2012 Dakar entry.
For 2013, Isuzu Motorsports will field a second D-MAX racer driven by Dakar rookie Adrian Di Lallo and co-driven by Steve Riley.
The 2013 Dakar rally will be the 35th running of the event, which shifted from its France-Africa (Paris-Dakar) traditional route after the threat of terrorism forced the cancellation of the 2008 event.
Starting on January 5th, 459 vehicles from around the world will attempt to cover more than 8000km between Peru, Argentina and Chile, traversing fesh-fesh (South American bulldust) and sand dunes up to 1.4 kilometres high.
Speaking with TMR of his return to the grueling event, Garland rates his heart and back as stronger than before 2011, but he is more than aware of his limitations.
“Like an old car, you know not to push it (his body) as hard as when it was new”, Garland explained.
“After three previous runs at this event, we know what to expect in terms of heat and altitude, but you can never be too careful.”
The team will leave Australia on December 27, leaving enough time to acclimatise to the high altitudes along much of the route.
“Next year’s event takes us up to nearly 5000m, much higher than the previous races, and for a longer period of time. If you’re not properly prepared for those conditions, things can get pretty nasty, pretty quickly”, Garland said.
“We are aiming for a top 10 finish this time around – I really feel I have unfinished business over there.”
The 2013 Dakar will conclude in Santiago on January 20th.
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