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UAE Desert Challenge 2008 Special-Newssection (FIA Cross Country Worldcup)

This is the single-news section of the special of the UAE Desert Challenge 2008, last round of the FIA Worldcup for Cross Country Rallys. To see all news please use the link under the article or navigate with the left main-navigation.

UAE Desert Challenge: Headgasket failure puts Garland out of Rally.

Par Wallentheim and Dan-Olov Ohlsson maintained Team Isuzu Diesel Mission’s UAE Desert Challenge bid after a punishing fourth leg across the Arabian desert, deep in the Empty Quarter of the Abu Dhabi emirate, on Thursday.. The Swedish pair brought their D-Max to the finish of the grueling 314.95km selective section in ninth position, but team mates Bruce Garland and co-driver Harry Suzuki were sidelined with head gasket-related problems early in the stage.

"I think the damage was done yesterday," said Garland. "We stopped in a sand bowl in the dunes and then we got going again and struggled along for a while, but there was no way we would make the finish of the stage. So we decided to call it a day and return to the bivouac. We hope to repair the car tonight and have a little push to the finish on Friday."

Qatar’s Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah again cruised to an emphatic stage win and extended his overall advantage for the X-raid team over the UAE’s Yayha Al-Helai.

Both Isuzus restarted from eighth and 12th positions on the road this morning. Wallentheim held 13th in the general classification, but additional time penalties imposed overnight had knocked Garland down to 29th in the overall standings.

The Swede started well and held 10th through PC1 and ninth through PC2, but Garland stopped with overheating problems before the first passage control at 78.58km. The Australian suspected that the head gasket had failed and there were anxious moments in the Isuzu Diesel Mission camp before the crew decided to continue. He reached PC1in just under three hours after dropping around 90 minutes to his rivals, but the decision was taken to return to Moreeb Hill.

Wallentheim was classified 14th through the third PC and ninth after the final passage control, as he made steady progress towards the finish to clinch an eventual ninth position.

Garland is keen to praise the development progress of diesel engines for cross-country competition. "In the past, the perception of the diesel engine was that it could produce high torque at low revs, but would have lower power at higher revs than a gasoline engine. After I drove the D-Max, I realised that the old belief is no longer true.

"The D-Max engine delivers substantial power, even at high engine revs and is similar to the gasoline cars that I have driven. It really is an eye opener to see diesel cars nowadays delivering similar performance figures to gasoline cars."

But Garland admits that he did have reservations about driving the diesel car at the outset. "Most of the competitors in events like the Australian Safari drive large gasoline-engined cars, most of them as large as six-liters. I did have some uneasiness at first, but that gradually disappeared when I began to test drive the car.

"The D-Max surprised everyone, especially in the tight, technical stages. We were only banking on being competitive over the extremely fast sections, but we did have a feeling that we could beat the gasoline cars before the race, especially if it rained. The D-Max is much quicker in muddy sections and soft sand where the torque makes it easy and fast to drive. We have now experienced sandy conditions here on the Desert Challenge."

Tomorrow (Friday) is the final leg of the 2008 UAE Desert Challenge and surviving teams will tackle two selective sections of 118.60km and 166.25km in a total route of 528.03km. The opening competitive stage starts at the same place as the finish of leg one and PC2 on leg four, while the final stage finishes near the endurance horse stables at Al-Asaili.

It is the longest leg of the entire event and draws to a conclusion with the ceremonial finish at the Dubai International Marine Club from 4pm.

2008/10/31 | 08:21 CET | Editor: MR/HS/Garland

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