ISUZU Motorsports’ rookie Adrian Di Lallo, with his co-driver Steven Riley of Nerrena, has finished an impressive 38th outright in his first attempt at the marathon, the two-week-long Dakar Rally in South America. Di Lallo (WA) and the experienced Riley were flying the Isuzu Motorsports flag after their more experienced team leader, Bruce Garland (NSW), was forced to withdraw on Day 12, the engine of his 2012 Isuzu D-MAX destroyed by a contaminated batch of diesel fuel. Yesterday Di Lallo and Riley (Red Earth Motorsport, Isuzu D-MAX; car 439) travelled from La Serena to Santiago, the capital of Chile, with a timed special stage of 188km and 502km of liaison (transport). They finished the stage in 29th place, which puts them in 38th place outright. Just 93 cars of the original 153 starters lined up for the final stage that rounded out a journey of around 8500km from the start in Lima, Peru on January 5. So, even finishing was a good effort, but 38th against some of the world’s best endurance drivers and their better resourced teams is fantastic. “We pushed hard today because the conditions on the special stage suited our car and the Toyo Dakar-spec tyres,” says Di Lallo. “We’re happy with where we finished, although the fact we were in dust for much of the special stage prevented us from posting a better time. But I feel very thrilled to have arrived.” Di Lallo thanked co-driver Steve: “He had a huge part to play in our safe arrival, bringing his vast experience to the cockpit and keeping me calm and on course.”
Speaking from Santiago today, Steve Riley was just relieved to have finished safely. “We had a wheel shear off at high speed at one stage which was a bit hairy but generally it was pretty good. “Adrian did a great job in his first race and really should have won the best rookie but because I’ve done it before it sort of nullified it. “I’ll be straight home as soon as I’ve regained a bit of strength it’s very physical.” Any time for a holiday? “No we saw a fair bit of country while we were driving so I’ll be home as soon as I can. “We haven’t organised our tickets yet, but it’ll be within the week I guess. “To be able to get a good finish is very satisfying. A lot of the European entries spend a lot of money and they don’t even get to finish so it’s a good result for us.” Would you do it again? “Phew, I don’t know. Not right now anyway,” said Steve. Di Lallo and Riley completed the rally in the rebuilt 2008 Isuzu D-MAX that took Garland and co-driver Harry Suzuki to an incredible 11th outright and first diesel ute home in 2009. Garland was hoping to equal or beat that result this year, two years after breaking his back in the 2011 rally and having a heart attack and five coronary bypasses two months later.