|Dakar Rally 2013: Australia´s Isuzu Teams in slow and steady dakar climb.|
High altitudes and a long, hard day have played havoc with the 2013 Dakar Rally competitors, but the Australian Isuzu Motorsports crews are edging steadily through the field.
Isuzu D-max driver Bruce Garland and Harry Suzuki have gained five places overall on yesterday, to sit in 42nd outright while teammates Adrian Di Lallo and Steve Riley are just behind them, in 44th place overall.
"We had a bit of a problem with one of the front CV joints so we decided to stop and change it in the dunes," Garland says. "While we were working, one of the choppers flew in low and bombarded us with dust and sand, which wasn’t much fun - although we might make it on TV!"
"Once we got into the bivouac we did some work on the front end and otherwise just a general service. For a brand-new car, with a lot of new components to test, it is standing up to the punishment really well."
"We started the big climb today into the Andes and got up to about 3000 m. You do feel it, especially because we didn’t get as much sleep. There was a time change between Peru and Chile so we had two hours’ less sleep - but everyone was in the same boat.
"Friday we go as high as 5000m. We did some acclimatising before the event started but both cars and drivers struggle with those altitudes so it will be interesting to see how we end up. There’s still a long way to go and a lot of people who are pushing themselves and their cars too hard to sustain it. Slowly, slowly, catchy monkey is the way to play the game in this event."
Stage Seven, the climb through the Andes Cordillera will be in the early hours, taking the teams in convoy for a liaison stage finishing at a record altitude of 4975 m, at the top of Argentina’s highest mountain pass. During the special stage, the needle of the altimeter will fluctuate between 3400 m and 4000 m, but the speedometer will rarely go below 100 km/h, despite the lack of power, which will affect all the vehicles.
The bivouac will be in northwestern Argentina, in the city of Salta, 1152 m above sea level in the foothills of the Andes, famous for its well-preserved colonial architecture and wonderful scenery.
A popular tourist destination, it is located in what was the southernmost region of the Inca empire. Founded in 1582 by Spanish conquistador Hernando de Lerma, it’s probably the most Spanish city in Argentina in appearance but the local culture is a blend of Spanish and gaucho.
2013/01/11 | 15:15 CET | ARTICLE: MR/HS/SWANTON