ISUZU Motorsports team in new mu-X ready for Silk Way Rally challenge

The ISUZU Motorsports team are making final preparations before they depart for Moscow to contest the 2017 Silk Way Rally that starts on 7 July and finishes on 22 July 2017.

Sponsored by Isuzu Motors International Thailand, the new ISUZU mu-X sporting race number 135, will be put to the ultimate test across 9,600 kilometres and 15 stages of some of the planet’s toughest terrains from Russia to China.

Western Australian driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki competed in last year’s Silk Way Rally in a D-MAX, finishing in the ‘T2’ Class in fourth place; the highest placed pickup in Class. They finished two stages in second place and four stages in third place.

Di Lallo said he is feeling confident and is ready to race.

“This year I’m confident we have the team and the equipment needed to tame this extreme adventure. The mu-X is super tough and super reliable,” Di Lallo said.

It is the latest challenge for Di Lallo and co-driver Suzuki who have tackled some of the world’s toughest rally raid events including Dakar, Australasian Safari and the China Grand Rally.

Di Lallo said the team’s goal is for top honours in the ‘T2’ Production Class. Unlike the ‘T1’ class where vehicles are heavily modified and often have little in common with their daily driven counterparts, the ‘T2’ class permits only safety and basic modifications – making ISUZU Motorsports’ competition vehicle similar to the ones available to purchase at a dealership.

Despite its minimum modifications, Di Lallo is confident the brand new ISUZU mu-X is up to the task.

“Our mu-X is like the ones you can buy from the showroom floor. However, it has been modified for safety in accordance with the rally regulations – beefed up suspension, regulation brakes, and the addition of a safety roll cage, harness and seats,” Di Lallo said.

“I have a good idea what to expect after last year’s campaign. It’ll be tough, no doubt about it. I expect some stages in Russia to be fast flowing rally roads, in Kazakhstan desert and mountainous ranges, and I’m expecting major sand dunes in the north of China in the Gobi Desert.

“It’s a marathon rally raid event and we’re going to treat it as such, pushing while being mindful that we need to preserve the car right to the end of the final stage.

“Last year, we approached every day as a new rally and that worked well for us, always looking forward.

"Whilst the strength of the production D-MAX is undoubtable - proven by last year’s result and the punishment it endured, I am a race car driver at heart and I am very much looking forward to the advantages presented by the mu-X, particularly in the areas of handling and stopping due to the rear suspension setup and the clear advantage of having four wheel disc brakes. I think the mu-X will also be much easier to handle at high speed due to its superior geometry and it should also perform very well in the monstrous ‘dunes of no return’ that await us in China because of its slightly shorter wheelbase."

“I have every confidence in our team, in the car and in the ISUZU product. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of it all and I can’t wait to get going,” the 42-year-old father of five said.

Di Lallo and Suzuki will race the clock in a field of about 125 vehicles, competing along a path veined to be similar to the historic Silk Road route that facilitated trade through Russia, Kazakhstan and China.

The seventh edition of Silk Way Rally is set to be another challenge to human skills and technical capabilities. In 2017 the rally organisers have prepared new routes, which will lead competitors from Moscow Red Square to the ancient cradle of Chinese civilization of Xi’an. The full variety of terrains, tricky navigation traps and great sands of Gobi Desert will become a new unforgettable adventure for the entire rally fraternity.

The Silk Way Rally has become a major event in the International Cross-Country Rally calendar. About 125 cars and trucks with competitors representing 41 countries are expected to undertake the gruelling challenge including Dakar champions, World Rally Champions, and other motorsport heroes. Countries represented by competitors include China, Russia, France, Qatar, England, Australia, South Africa, America and Japan.

The Silk Way Rally starts in Moscow on 7 July and finishes in Xi’an on 22 July 2017. Competitors will travel 9,608 kilometres including 4,095 kilometres of special stages through three countries - Russia, Kazakhstan, China, over 15 days.

Motorsport fans will be able to follow Di Lallo and Suzuki’s progress via the Isuzu D-MAX Rally website www.isuzu-dmax-rally.com and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/IsuzuDMaxRally/

Silk Way Key Points:
  • •  Starts Red Square in Moscow on 7 July and finishes in Xi’an on 22 July
  • •  3 countries – Russia, Kazakhstan, China
  • •  15 days, including one rest day in Kazakhstan on the 16 July/li>
  • •  9,608km including 4,095km of special stages
  • •  About 125 teams entered
  • •  41 nationalities expected to be represented
Team Key Points
  • •  Driver Adrian Di Lallo, Western Australia, Australia
  • •  Co-Driver Harry Suzuki, New South Wales, Australia
  • •  Team: Race no. 135 ISUZU Motorsports
  • •  Car: new ISUZU mu-X
  • •  Category: T2 Production Class

Friday 7 July 2017
Opening Ceremony

Silk Way Rally begins with spectacular opening ceremony

In the capital of Russia, Moscow’s historic Red Square was bathed in a sea of colour as the seventh edition of the Silk Way Rally began with the official opening ceremony.

On the banks of the Moskva River, spectators, crews, media and competitors celebrated as each vehicle drove over the podium.

Isuzu Motorsports driver Adrian Di Lallo said he the opening ceremony was exciting.

“The atmosphere is electric and everyone, us included, is amped to get going. All the documentation and checks are done, and now we are ready to race,” the 42-year-old Western Australian said.

“From here on, it’s man and machine against Mother Nature, and I’m very happy with our machine.

“The mu-X is a beast of a car and handles really well – I’m confident we can do well in the T2 class and we’re aiming to finish with class honours.”

On Saturday, the first stage of the rally took the competitors towards Tcheboksary. On the day’s menu: a long liaison road section of 572 kilometres and a short, twisty and fast 61 kilometre special to reach the first bivouac.

More information

The seventh edition of Silk Way Rally is set to be another challenge to human skills and technical capabilities. In 2017 the rally organisers have prepared new routes, which will lead competitors from Moscow Red Square to the ancient cradle of Chinese civilization of Xi’an. The full variety of terrains, tricky navigation traps and great sands of Gobi Desert will become a new unforgettable adventure for the entire rally fraternity.

The Silk Way Rally has become a major event in the International Cross-Country Rally calendar. About 125 cars and trucks with competitors representing 35 countries are expected to undertake the gruelling challenge including Dakar champions, World Rally Champions, and other motorsport heroes. Countries represented by competitors include China, Russia, France, Qatar, England, Australia, South Africa, America and Japan.

Silk Way Rally by numbers

3 countries (Russia, Kazakhstan, China) 9 599km, including 4 094 km of special stages
35 countries represented by racers
90 participants including 41 cars and 21 trucks starts from Red Square and more than 30 cars of SWR Grand China Rally (joining at Urumqi)
385 vehicles enrolled in the race (all categories)
143 leading Russian and international media representatives
55 key worldwide broadcasters with coverage of 196 countries
12 aircrafts (6 planes, 6 helicopters)
14 legs with special stages
1 rest day

Silk Way Key Points:
  • •  Starts Red Square in Moscow on 7 July and finishes in Xi’an on 22 July
  • •  3 countries – Russia, Kazakhstan, China
  • •  15 days, 14 legs with special stages, 1 rest day in Kazakhstan on the 16 July
  • •  9,599km including 4,094km of special stages
  • •  About 125 teams entered
  • •  35 nationalities represented
Team Key Points
  • •  Driver Adrian Di Lallo, Western Australia, Australia
  • •  Co-Driver Harry Suzuki, New South Wales, Australia
  • •  Team: Race no. 135 ISUZU Motorsports
  • •  Car: new ISUZU mu-X
  • •  Category: T2 Production Class

Saturday 8 July 2017
Stage 1, Moscow - Tcheboksary bivouac
Leg distance: 726.95 km
Special distance: 61.43 km

Isuzu Motorsports WINS stage one

Isuzu Motorsports has convincingly won the opening stage of the 2017 Silk Way Rally 2017 in the T2 production class.

Australian driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki in their Isuzu mu-X, race number #135, finished ahead of Toyota Land Cruiser teams, about two and a half minutes before Team Toyota Autobody piloted by Japanese driver Akira Miura (#133), and more than 15 minutes ahead of Xtreme Plus with Frenchman Marco Piana (#151).

The short stage, just 61 kilometres long situated on the banks of the River Volga, was wet, muddy and extremely slippery.

Di Lallo said the long 572-kilometre liaison was just as challenging as the opening stage.

“To be honest, the liaison was just as tricky as the stage – navigating through the traffic was like playing a video game!”

“The slick tracks on the stage were no place for the faint hearted! I wasn’t pushing – it’s the first stage and we didn’t want to take any risks,” Di Lallo said.

“Our mu-X performed fantastically and I’m sure our special tyres gave us an edge, it was super slippery out there.

“I’m ecstatic to start the Silk Way Rally with a stage win. I’m feeling Olympic and can’t wait to tackle what they throw at us next!” the 42-year-old Western Australian said.

Isuzu Motorsports was the only T2 team to finish in the top 20. After Stage 1, Isuzu Motorsports are ranked first in T2 class and 16th outright.

Outright Stage 1 winner was Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena in their Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi, race number #104.

Stage 2 between Tcheboksary and Ufa is a total of 785.63 kilometres, of which 157 kilometres are special and takes the competitors over a piste that has narrow and technical sections. Other parts are faster, winding between vegetation. Drivers must take care not to cut corners as there are some big holes hiding in the long grass. Leading cars on the piste won’t have an easy time, with changes in direction sometimes hidden by the greenery.

Overall Results

Place Driver Class Team Time
1 LOEB Sébastien (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 0:42:02
2 PETERHANSEL Stéphane (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 0:42:31
3 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 0:44:16
4 ALRAJHI Yazeed (SAU) T1 X-RAID MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS RALLY TEAM 0:45:40
5 MENZIES Bryce (USA) T1 X-RAID MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS RALLY TEAM 0:45:40
16 DI LALLO Adrian (AUS) T2 ISUZU MOTORSPORT 0:57:19

Sunday 9 July 2017
Leg 2: Grand Kazan track Toyota challenge cup
Leg distance: 785.63 km
Special distance: 157.00 km

Two stages wins from two stages for Isuzu Motorsports

In a true rally test on wet clay and in very muddy conditions over 157 kilometres, Isuzu Motorsports has won the second stage of the 2017 Silk Way Rally 2017 in the T2 production class.

Australian Isuzu mu-X driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki were more than two and a half minutes faster than Team Toyota Autobody piloted by Japanese driver Akira Miura (#133) and 57 minutes faster than Kirill Chernenkov (KAZ) at team Akatau Motorsport driving a Nissan Patrol (#136).

Isuzu Motorsports, race number #135, has increased their overall lead by more than 5 minutes.

In extremely slippery conditions, following heavy rainfall in the Bachkirie region, the big challenge was simply to stay on the track.

Di Lallo said that the stage was tough and definitely one to exercise care and discretion.

“That was extremely heavy going through deep mud and clay made much more difficult after many trucks and cars had passed,” Di Lallo said.

“We had to stop several times to fill our windscreen washer bottle just so we could see.

“There was a big obstacle that car #133 was having trouble getting over and they stopped in a bad spot, at the bottom of an extremely greasy steep decline before a steep muddy hill climb. We made contact with them as we were pushing through – nothing major, more of a love tap really, and the kiss mark is a small dent in the rear quarter.”

“It’s great to kick off with two stage wins. Today was tough and I’m sure it’s going to get tougher yet,” the 42-year-old Western Australian said.

After two stages, the Australian Isuzu Motorsports team is ranked first in T2 class and 14th outright.

Outright Stage 2 winner was Frenchmen Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret in a Peugeot 3008DKR (#106) who took advantage of team mates Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena’s (Peugeot 3008DKR Maxi, #102) hard work opening the piste to win their first stage victory and at the same time take the overall lead in the car class.

Stage 3 has a total distance of 876 kilometres and will also be the last special stage held on Russian soil, with a long challenge of 329.25 competitive kilometres. The rally crosses over to Kazakhstan for a short night in Kostanay Competitors can expect lots of changes of direction, often hidden in the vegetation. Co-drivers will have to pay close attention to the road book, especially the distances. And while the special also has some fast, technical sections, opening the piste is going to be hard work.

Overall

Driver Class Team Time Gap
1 PETERHANSEL Stéphane (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 1:51:00 0:00:00
2 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 1:52:47 0:01:47
3 LOEB SŽbastien (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 1:52:48 0:01:48
4 MENZIES Bryce (USA) T1 X-RAID MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS RALLY TEAM 1:59:51 0:08:51
5 HAN Wei (CHN) T1 GEELY AUTO COOPERTIRES TEAM 2:00:40 0:09:40
14 DI LALLO Adrian (AUS) T2 ISUZU MOTORSPORT 2:46:43 0:55:43

Monday 10 July 2017
Leg 3: Ufa – Kostanay
Leg distance: 876.39 km
Special distance: 329.25 km

Stage 3 demonstrates the tough conditions of the Silk Way Rally

After the two stages dominated by Isuzu Motorsports in the T2 production class, the 324-kilometre third stage demonstrated that the 2017 Silk Way Rally is a one of the toughest tests of man and machine against Mother Nature.

The terrain early in the day was once again treacherous, with numerous water crossings.

Australian Isuzu mu-X driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki in car number #135 were initially making good time in the first sector.

“We had a moment in the first sector, which resulted in a bent steering arm and we lost time changing it,” Di Lallo explained.

“We seemed to make a lot of time back after that, so it didn’t put us too far behind.

“This is a long, long race with a long way to go – the sun doesn’t shine on the same car every day. As we say, every day is a new rally - let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Isuzu Motorsports are 10 minutes behind Team Toyota Autobody (#133). In third place almost two hours behind the front-runner is Akatau Motorsport in a Nissan Patrol (#136).

After two stages, the Australian Isuzu Motorsports team is ranked second in T2 class and 17th outright.

Coming up next: Stage 4 is first 100 per cent Kazakhstan stage, at 908 kilometres, it’s the longest of the rally and divided into two parts, with a neutralisation in between. At the end of an early morning 148.51-kilometre liaison, the first timed section is 214 kilometres, which starts on a fast track and becomes more technical beside a big river, before finishing in farmland. Following a 44.18-kilometre neutralisation, the second timed section of 159.22 kilometres is fast between fields. The day finishes with a 342.89-kilometre liaison to Astana, the futuristic capital of Kazakhstan.

Overall Results

R Driver Class Team Overall Gap
1 LOEB Sébastien (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 5:45:34 0:00:00
2 PETERHANSEL Stéphane (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 5:48:49 0:03:15
3 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 6:02:46 0:17:12
4 MENZIES Bryce (USA) T1 X-RAID MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS RALLY TEAM 6:23:37 0:38:03
5 LAVIEILLE Christian (FRA) T1 BAICMOTOR RACING TEAM 6:26:39 0:41:05
17 DI LALLO Adrian (AUS) T2 ISUZU MOTORSPORT 7:53:54 2:08:20

Tuesday 11 July 2017
Leg 4: Kostanay – Astana, Kazakhstan
Leg distance: 908.80km
Special distance: 373.22km

Isuzu Motorsports dominate Stage 4 of the Silk Way Rally

Isuzu Motorsports are back in the lead after a fantastic performance of endurance winning Stage 4 of the 2017 Silk Way Rally between Kostanay and Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, by almost 21 minutes.

Before the rally’s longest day, a 908 kilometre leg, Australian Isuzu mu-X driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki in car number 135 were sitting in second place in the T2 production class, 10 minutes behind their nearest rival.

However, dominating Stage 4 was no easy feat.

“Today's stages were treacherous and true rally raid stages in every sense of the word - the conditions were tough,” Di Lallo said.

“The challenges of speed, endurance, discretion and adversity tested man and machine to the extreme!

“I couldn't be happier with the way the car and Harry performed today.

“And I’m truly grateful to the organisers, land owners and local government for allowing us to compete on these stages. But tomorrow is another day so let’s see what happens tomorrow,” the 42-year-old West Australian driver said.

Isuzu Motorsports leads by 10 minutes 57 seconds ahead of Team Toyota Autobody (#133). In third place over 106 hours behind (after incurring a 105-hour penalty) is team Akatau Motorsport in a Nissan Patrol (#136).

After four stages and three stage wins, the Australian Isuzu Motorsports team is ranked first in T2 class and 17th outright.

Up next, Stage 5 will take competitors east into the vast plains that run all the way to the Chinese border and Semei, the frontier town in the Oblys region. The leg is 849.54 kilometres long and features the longest special stage of the first half of the rally at 484.47 kilometres. Comprising of long fast sections across the steppes, drivers will have to be careful and navigation will play a key role. The route runs between numerous lakes, providing a very scenic backdrop.

Overall results after Stage 4

R Driver Class Team Time Gap
1 LOEB Sébastien (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 8:56:10 0:00:00
2 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 10:04:06 1:07:56
3 LAVIEILLE Christian (FRA) T1 BAICMOTOR RACING TEAM 10:08:45 1:12:35
4 MENZIES Bryce (USA) T1 X-RAID MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS RALLY TEAM 10:15:18 1:19:08
5 HAN Wei (CHN) T1 GEELY AUTO COOPERTIRES TEAM 10:24:33 1:28:23
6 PELICHET Jérôme (FRA) T1 RAID LYNX 10:32:50 1:36:40
...
17 DI LALLO Adrian (AUS) T2 ISUZU MOTORSPORT 12:11:32 3:15:22

Wednesday 12 July 2017
Leg 5: Astana, Kazakhstan – Semey
Leg distance: 849.54km
Special distance: 484.47km

Isuzu Motorsports domination continues in the Silk Way Rally

Isuzu Motorsports has increased their lead in the T2 production class after another incredible performance of endurance of both man and machine winning Stage 5 of the 2017 Silk Way Rally.

It was another big day, an 850-kilometre leg with a long competitive stage of 484 kilometres through some fast sections in the Kazakh steppe and magnificent lakes and landscapes.

Australian Isuzu mu-X driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki in car number 135 had a good day, increase their lead much in part to the misfortune of their rival.

"Today's was awesome! Extremely tough from an endurance perspective but amazing for a rally pilot,” Di Lallo said.

“The stage had a combination of technical and high-speed tracks over dirt and rock with some mud and grass sections and was nearly 500 kilometres in length.

"We had a good, clean and relatively trouble free run stopping only twice. Once to change a flat and the other to quickly check the car over after a high-speed whack, but all was ok. Another great day for the mu-X."

When asked what the scenery was like along the stage, Di Lallo said, “It was blurry!”

Isuzu Motorsports finished the fifth stage 40 minutes ahead of the T2 subsequent team, the Toyota Land Cruiser.

After Stage 5, Isuzu Motorsports is leading the T2 class by 51 minutes 46 seconds and are placed in 16th outright (with T1 cars).

In the T1 class, last year’s title holder, Peugeot’s Cyril Despres (#100) took his first stage victory. Second was Chinese driver Yangui Liu who gives the Chinese manufacturer Baïcmotor their best result on the Silk Way Rally. Bryce Menzies in his Mini John Cooper Works (#105) finished third while Peugeot’s Stéphane Peterhansel (#106) had more problems today finishing in 15th place, 52 minutes down on Despres.

Next, Stage 6 heads south-east over the vast Kazakh plains towards the Chinese border. With 387.86 kilometres of special stages and a total leg distance of 597113 kilometres, it promises to be a very full day. The main challenges are the numerous changes of direction at the beginning of the special and some tricky sections of off-piste. Competitors will also need to be careful on the rapid sections. A fast special but most certainly not a straightforward one as competitors and crew make their way to Turksib.

Overall results after Stage 5

R # Driver Class Team Time Gap
1 104 LOEB Sébastien (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 13:43:50 0:00:00
2 100 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 14:34:06 0:50:16
3 105 MENZIES Bryce (USA) T1 X-RAID MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS RALLY TEAM 14:59:20 1:15:30
4 108 LAVIEILLE Christian (FRA) T1 BAICMOTOR RACING TEAM 15:12:20 1:28:30
5 107 HAN Wei (CHN) T1 GEELY AUTO COOPERTIRES TEAM 15:14:46 1:30:56
...
16 135 DI LALLO Adrian (AUS) T2 ISUZU MOTORSPORT 17:58:15 4:14:25

Silk Way Key Points:
  • •  Starts Red Square in Moscow on 7 July and finishes in Xi’an on 22 July
  • •  3 countries – Russia, Kazakhstan, China
  • •  15 days, 14 legs with special stages, 1 rest day in Kazakhstan on the 16 July
  • •  9,599km including 4,094km of special stages
  • •  About 125 teams entered
  • •  35 nationalities represented
Team Key Points
  • •  Driver Adrian Di Lallo, Western Australia, Australia
  • •  Co-Driver Harry Suzuki, New South Wales, Australia
  • •  Team: Race no. 135 ISUZU Motorsports
  • •  Car: new ISUZU mu-X
  • •  Category: T2 Production Class

Thursday 13 July 2017
Leg 6: Semey - Urdzhar
Leg distance: 597.13km
Special distance: 387.86km

Building bridges to win Silk Way Rally Stage 6

Isuzu Motorsports have continued their winning streak in Stage 6, the penultimate special in Kazakhstan of the 2017 Silk Way Rally.

Their closest rival in the T2 class car #133 damaged the front of their car beyond repair yesterday and was forced to retire, which has taken the pressure off Australian Isuzu mu-X driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki in car number #135.

The 388-kilometre special was fast, with 60 per cent soil and 40 per cent gravel, but still threw challenges and obstacles at competitors.

“We had a good clean run for the most part of the stage. I did my best to follow team orders taking no risks - so basically just went for quick hack with my mate Harry in outback Kazakhstan,” Di Lallo said.

“That’s until we had a big problem in the last sector at about the 300-kilometre mark. There was a make shift bridge over a deep creek crossing that had collapsed.

“Other competitors were getting stuck all around trying to cross so Harry and I rebuilt the bridge as best we could, Aussie-style. We assembled the loose and broken bits of timber over as many big rocks as we could find then we dropped the mu-X into low range and tested its load baring capacity.

“I don't know about anyone behind us, but we got through. Then we carried on trouble free until the end of a spectacularly scenic special stage.”

After Stage 6, Isuzu Motorsports leads the T2 production category by 3 hours and 41 minutes over second-placed team Xtreme Plus in a Toyota Landcruiser (#151), and in third place 109 hours behind is Aktau Motorsport in a Nissan Patrol (#136). Isuzu Motorsports is currently in 17th place outright (with T1 cars).

In the T1 category, Peugeot’s Stéphane Peterhansel (#106) finished victor and has come back into the top ten overall and is less than two hours off the third place. After catching team mate Cyril Despres, the day’s piste opener, Peugeot’s Sébastien Loeb (#104) initially decided to follow his Despres, so as to protect his overall lead. But as the navigation became more complicated, the two Frenchmen ended up swapping the lead all the way to the finish.

Stage 7 is the fourth and last special in Kazakhstan before crossing over to China. Organisers call this magnificent 106 kilometres special a pure driving pleasure. The vegetation will be dense and the scenery hilly. The finish will be almost at the Chinese border, before a 250-kilometre liaison to the bivouac at Karamay, famous for its oil refineries.

Overall results after Stage 6

R Driver Class Team Time Gap
1 LOEB Sébastien (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 17:16:24 0:00:00
2 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 17:51:39 0:35:15
3 MENZIES Bryce (USA) T1 X-RAID MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS RALLY TEAM 18:20:05 1:03:41
4 LAVIEILLE Christian (FRA) T1 BAICMOTOR RACING TEAM 18:46:36 1:30:12
5 HAN Wei (CHN) T1 GEELY AUTO COOPERTIRES TEAM 18:47:11 1:30:47
...
17 DI LALLO Adrian (AUS) T2 ISUZU MOTORSPORT 23:15:32 5:59:08

Silk Way Key Points:
  • •  Starts Red Square in Moscow on 7 July and finishes in Xi’an on 22 July
  • •  3 countries – Russia, Kazakhstan, China
  • •  15 days, 14 legs with special stages, 1 rest day in Kazakhstan on the 16 July
  • •  9,599km including 4,094km of special stages
  • •  About 125 teams entered
  • •  35 nationalities represented
Team Key Points
  • •  Driver Adrian Di Lallo, Western Australia, Australia
  • •  Co-Driver Harry Suzuki, New South Wales, Australia
  • •  Team: Race no. 135 ISUZU Motorsports
  • •  Car: new ISUZU mu-X
  • •  Category: T2 Production Class

Friday 14 July 2017
Leg 7: Urdzhar - Karamay
Leg distance: 412.90km
Special distance: 106.60km

Preservation sees Isuzu Motorsport take it down a gear

With their main rivals out of the race, preservation of the car and making it to the finish of the 2017 Silk Way Rally is the focus of Isuzu Motorsports.

Australian Isuzu mu-X driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki in car number 135 had an enjoyable day and didn’t take any unnecessary risks to finish the 106-kilometre Stage 7 in second place.

“It wasn’t a difficult day but there was quite a lot of fesh fesh for us to get through,” Di Lallo said.

“Our mighty mu-X is showing some signs of wear and tear after this week's battle Royale and with a rest day coming up the day after tomorrow, we decided it was best to knock it back a gear and slow right down to preserve the condition of the car so it can get some well deserved love and attention in Urumqi.

“We have a very comfortable lead in the T2 class and our main aim is to keep it that way by preserving the car and get to the end of the next week and on the top step of the podium in Xi’an,” the 42-year-old West Australian father of five said.

Team Aktau Motorsport in a Nissan Patrol (#136) finished Stage 7 in first place, 20 minutes ahead of Isuzu Motorsports.

After Stage 7, Isuzu Motorsports leads the T2 production category by 14 hours and 29 minutes over second-placed team Xtreme Plus in a Toyota Landcruiser (#151), and in third place 109 hours behind is Aktau Motorsport in a Nissan Patrol (#136). Isuzu Motorsports is currently in 18th place outright (with T1 cars).

Coming up next in Stage 8 is a difficult geographic area due to crops and population in the south and up north numerous areas with many drillings. The start of the special is the same as last year up to CP1, then it gets fast and sandy in vegetation. The sandy track will become more technical with many turns uphill and downhill. Pilots will have to use all their driving skills on the main part of the special. Towards the end of the 250-kilometre stage, navigation will be predominant with many changes of tracks.

For the competitors, Stage 8 is an important day, as it marks the mid-way point of the race and it will be a short night due to the rally switching to Chinese time (from GMT+6 to GMT+8). Once in Urumqi, the competitors will be able to enjoy a rest day after a hard week’s racing.

Overall results after Stage 7

R Driver Class Team Time Gap
1 LOEB Sébastien (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 18:21:57 0:00:00
2 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 19:25:32 1:03:35
3 MENZIES Bryce (USA) T1 X-RAID MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS RALLY TEAM 19:50:32 1:28:35
4 HAN Wei (CHN) T1 GEELY AUTO COOPERTIRES TEAM 19:56:18 1:34:21
5 LAVIEILLE Christian (FRA) T1 BAICMOTOR RACING TEAM 19:57:08 1:35:11
...
17 DI LALLO Adrian (AUS) T2 ISUZU MOTORSPORT 25:32:05 7:10:08

Saturday 15 July 2017
Leg 8: Karamay - Urumqi
Leg distance: 436.34km
Special distance: 250.37km

Not all plain sailing during Silk Way Rally

The nature of rally raids is that anything can happen, and Stage 8 of the 2017 Silk Way Rally was a case point for Isuzu Motorsports.

On the eve of the rest day, Australian Isuzu mu-X driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki in car number 135 had a tough day where they put their bush mechanic skills to good use.

“Today was a tough day and our noble steed suffered. We snapped a number of mounting bolts on our front end however we managed to avert disaster by tying everything together with ratchet straps, bush-mechanic style. We had to do the last 50 kilometres very gingerly using four wheel drive only when necessary,” Di Lallo explained.

“If medals were being handed out for basket weaving, I reckon we would have won gold for the job we did holding the front end in place for 50 kilometres of harsh stages through dunes and fesh fesh.

“The rest today tomorrow couldn’t come at a better time and we’ll spend it to get our noble steed back to prime condition.”

Competitors were challenged over 250 kilometres in Stage 8 toward Urümqi, the capital of the autonomous region of Xinjiang where the Silk Way Rally will pause. The rest day is hardly that, the crew will be busy preparing the car for the last six stages.

Isuzu Motorsports finished Stage 8 in third place with an allocated stage time of 7 hours behind first-placed Team Xtreme Toyota (#151) and second-placed Team Aktau Motorsport in a Nissan Patrol (#136). Isuzu Motorsports incurred a two-hour penalty for completing the stage after the allocated time.

After Stage 8, Isuzu Motorsports continues leads the T2 production category by 14 hours and 20 minutes over second-placed team Xtreme Plus in a Toyota Landcruiser (#151), and in third place more than 107 hours behind is Aktau Motorsport in a Nissan Patrol (#136). Isuzu Motorsports is currently in 18th place outright (with T1 cars).

In the T1 category, Peugeot’s Sébastien Loeb (#104) again dominated with a stage win. Passing team mate Despres (#100) and then American Bryce Menzies in a Mini John Cooper Works (#105) Loeb finished first ahead of Depres by over five-minutes and the American by more than 13 minutes.

After a day to regroup and work on cars, Stage 9 resumes the rally’s remaining six stages and the first big dunes of the rally; 40 kilometres of sand. They are longer than last year and attention must be paid to crests and changes of valleys. Navigation has been made easier thanks to waypoints on these first dunes. Then the route is alternating between track and off-track sections becoming faster towards the end.

Overall results after Stage 8

R Driver Class Team Time Gap
1 LOEB Sébastien (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 21:10:16 0:00:00
2 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) T1 TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 22:18:57 1:08:41
3 MENZIES Bryce (USA) T1 X-RAID MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS RALLY TEAM 22:52:48 1:42:32
4 HAN Wei (CHN) T1 GEELY AUTO COOPERTIRES TEAM 23:03:15 1:52:59
5 LAVIEILLE Christian (FRA) T1 BAICMOTOR RACING TEAM 23:03:36 1:53:20
...
18 DI LALLO Adrian (AUS) T2 ISUZU MOTORSPORT 34:32:05 13:21:49

Monday 17 July 2017
Leg 9: Urumqi – Hami, China
Leg distance: 813.89km
Special distance: 421.00km

The only T2 car to finish Stage 9

Isuzu Motorsports, car number 135, was the only production class car to complete the gruelling Stage 9 of the 2017 Silk Way Rally.

After a rest day, the 813-kilometre leg from Urumqu to Hami in China’s north was the first of the rally’s remaining six stages and the first big dune crossing with 40 kilometres of vast mountainous sand dunes on the 421-kilometre special.

Australian Isuzu mu-X driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki demonstrated their endurance and that of their Isuzu to finish Stage 9 in 21st place overall.

“As soon as the coolant temperature started to rise on our first big dune crossing, Harry and I decided to take it easy for the day, and it’s lucky we did. What a car buster!” Di Lallo said.

“We had a relatively trouble free run, stopping only to allow the car to cool a few times and once to refit a shock canister that had come adrift.

“After the killer dunes, the track turned into a busted-up highway to hell for about 370 kilometers until the end. I must say that there was some awesome extraterrestrial scenery along the way, which we were able to enjoy for once at our cruising speed.”

Di Lallo said that when they finished the stage, there were still many vehicles that hadn’t.

“Today was a car-breaking stage. We saw at least three race trucks, race leader Sébastien Loeb’s Peugeot, an Overdrive Toyota and a couple of T1 buggies still there. Conditions today were extreme and we were being thrown around like rag dolls for the remainder of the stage after the sand dunes,” the 42-year-old West Australian said.

After Stage 9, Isuzu Motorsports continues leads the T2 production category by about 16 hours over second-placed team Xtreme Plus in a Toyota Landcruiser (#151). Aktau Motorsport in a Nissan Patrol (#136) did not complete the stage. Isuzu Motorsports is currently in 15th place outright (with T1 cars).

Winner of Stage 9 in the T1 category was Peugeot’s Stéphane Peterhansel (#106) yet the notable event of the day was his team mate and overall lead Sébastien Loeb’s (#104) accident at the 84-kilometre mark which ended his Silk Way Rally campaign. Third Peugeot team mate Cyril Despres (#100) now leads the rankings. In second place is Geely Auto Coopertires Team, Chinese national Han Wei ahead of American Bryce Menzies in a Mini John Cooper Works (#105) in third.

The start of the 360.28-kilometre Stage 10 special is very fast then the track becomes more technical with many changes of direction. There are some very nice fast sections with magnificent landscapes. Throughout the last part of the stage, the track is more or less visible alongside a chott, easy to lose if headings are not strictly followed.

Overall results after Stage 9

R Driver Team Time Gap
1 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 26:31:17 0:00:00
2 HAN Wei (CHN) GEELY AUTO COOPERTIRES TEAM 27:15:29 0:44:12
3 MENZIES Bryce (USA) X-RAID MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS RALLY TEAM 27:22:40 0:51:23
4 LAVIEILLE Christian (FRA) BAICMOTOR RACING TEAM 27:23:51 0:52:34
5 AMOS Eugenio (ITA) TWO WHEELS DRIVE 28:16:50 1:45:33
...
15 DI LALLO Adrian (AUS) ISUZU MOTORSPORT 42:02:56 15:31:39

Tuesday 18 July 2017
Leg 10: Hami – Dunhuang, China
Leg distance: 517.53km
Special distance: 360.28km

The fun continues in Stage 10 of the Silk Way Rally

Moving up the ranks, car number 135 Isuzu Motorsports sits in 14th position outright after Stage 10 of the 2017 Silk Way Rally.

The 360-kilometre leg from Hami in China’s north to Dunhuang suited Australian Isuzu Motosports driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki and their Isuzu mu-X.

“The stage featured several long dry riverbed runs, some rutted-out goat tracks and some fast flowing roads to finish up,” Di Lallo said.

“It came complete with more Sci-Fi movie scenery, the biggest blue metal deposit known to man and even local oncoming traffic and semi trailers!

“Today's stage was quite fun, a good time was had by all. Our day was stoppage free and we had a clean run, making a few passes which I always enjoy,” the West Australian said.

Aktau Motorsport in a Nissan Patrol (#136) finished the stage 15 minutes slower than Isuzu Motorsports and are ranked in second place overall in the T2 class albeit over 200 hours behind Isuzu Motorsports. Xtreme Plus team in a Toyota Landcruiser (#151) did not complete the stage. After Stage 10, Isuzu Motorsports continues leads the T2 production category and is currently in 14th place outright (with T1 cars).

Leg 11 is long at 783.84 kilometres with a special stage (originally 488.65 kilometres) split into two sections. As the first special was due to be run in a region that has very recently been declared a nature reserve by the Chinese authorities, the organisers of the Silk Way Rally have decided to cancel ES11A, while maintaining the second timed special (ES11B) of the 11th stage. The second section of the special, about 250 kilometres in length consists of wide sandy tracks and river beds, with picturesque parts between canyons, and a very nice fast finish.

Overall results after Stage 10

R Driver Team Time Gap
1 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 29:58:01 0:00:00
2 HAN Wei (CHN) GEELY AUTO COOPERTIRES TEAM 30:45:39 0:47:38
3 MENZIES Bryce (USA) X-RAID MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS RALLY TEAM 30:49:22 0:51:21
4 LAVIEILLE Christian (FRA) BAICMOTOR RACING TEAM 30:51:47 0:53:46
5 AMOS Eugenio (ITA) TWO WHEELS DRIVE 31:41:14 1:43:13
...
14 DI LALLO Adrian (AUS) ISUZU MOTORSPORT 46:52:03 16:54:02

Wednesday 19 July 2017
Leg 11: Dunhuang - Jiayuguan, China
Leg distance: 783.84km
Special distance: approx 250km

Tactical caution with eyes on the finish line

Isuzu Motorsports sporting car number 135 completed Stage 11 with caution knowing what’s to come and with their eyes firmly on the prize.

The 783.84-kilometre leg travelled from Dunhuang to Jiayuguan in China, situated at the western end of the Great Wall.

A late change saw the special stage shortened to about 250 kilometres, down from the original distance of 488.65 kilometres due to part of the region recently declared a nature reserve by the Chinese authorities. Thus, Silk Way Rally organisers cancelled the first section of the stage. The special consisted of wide sandy tracks, rutted out river beds and picturesque parts between canyons before a fast finish.

Leading the T2 category by over 210 hours, Australian Isuzu Motorsports driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki took a tactical approach to ensure their Isuzu mu-X reaches the finish line of the 2017 Silk Way Rally.

“With much to lose but little to gain, Harry and I decided that today was no day for pushing,” Di Lallo said.

“As tomorrow's stage is touted to be one of the hardest of the rally, we thought it would be much wiser for the boys to prepare the car tonight rather than repair.

“The track was badly rutted out and very dusty with patches of fesh fesh, so we turned on the aircon - which remarkably still works - and cruised through the stage without incident. Not even a tyre change!!” the West Australian driver Di Lallo said.

Isuzu Motorsports finished the stage two and half minutes behind the last remaining T2 competitor Aktau Motorsport in a Nissan Patrol (#136). Isuzu Motorsports has comfortable outright lead in the T2 category of 210 hours.

Xtreme Plus team in a Toyota Landcruiser (#151) has retired after an incident on the stage yesterday, and earlier in the rally Team Land Cruiser Toyota Autobody (#133) and AVMotorsport (#143) also a Toyota Land Cruiser both retired.

Isuzu Motorsports has maintained 14th position outright after Stage 11 of the 2017 Silk Way Rally (with T1 cars).

In the T1 class, Stéphane Peterhansel (Peugeot #106) took stage honours trying to catch his team mate to fulfil his duty as rapid assist. His team mate Cyril Despres finished second 1 minute 13 seconds slower. Behind the two Peugeots, came the two Mini John Cooper Works of Saudi driver Yazeed Al Rajhi who finished third and American Bryce Menzies who finished fourth. Menzies took advantage of the Chinese driver Han Wei’s extreme caution to take second place off him overall. On the eve of the two stages considered to be the most enjoyable but also the toughest of the race, Cyril Despres (Peugeot #100) continues to dominate the event. However, just three days from the final finish line in Xi’An, the battle for the outright podium has only just begun.

Leg 12 will be one of the two most demanding specials of the rally with a competitive stage of 254.75 kilometres of dunes from beginning to end, interrupted with fast sections off piste. Navigation will play an important role on this stage. Competitors will discover all the different types of terrain that you could hope to find on a rally-raid.

Overall results after Stage 11

R Driver Team Time Gap
1 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 32:16:55 0:00:00
2 MENZIES Bryce (USA) X-RAID MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS RALLY TEAM 33:12:01 0:55:06
3 HAN Wei (CHN) GEELY AUTO COOPERTIRES TEAM 33:14:24 0:57:29
4 LAVIEILLE Christian (FRA) BAICMOTOR RACING TEAM 33:24:03 1:07:08
5 AMOS Eugenio (ITA) TWO WHEELS DRIVE 34:05:47 1:48:52
...
14 DI LALLO Adrian (AUS) ISUZU MOTORSPORT 50:38:16 18:21:21

Thursday 20 July 2017
Leg 12: Jiayuguan – Alxa Youqi, China
Leg distance: 483.79km
Special distance: 254.75km

Monster dunes wreak havoc as Isuzu Motorsports becomes international rescue team

Leg 12 of the gruelling 14-day Silk Way Rally that started in Moscow and will finish in Xi’an on 22 July, has lived up to its reputation as one of the toughest stages of the rally.

The 254.75-kilometre stage was in the giant dunes of China’s Gobi Desert.

Isuzu Motorsports completed the stage without assistance, albeit not within the time allowed earning them a fixed two-hour penalty, however the team never gave up and helped others along the way.

Australian Isuzu Motorsports driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki employed their mechanical skills on a broken drive shaft of their Isuzu mu-X to finish the stage, the only T2 car to do so.

“We had a great run until CP2 and then in the middle of a monster dune crossing we broke a driveshaft,” Di Lallo said.

“We fixed it in record time – in less then two hours, but then we were out of time to complete the stage, so we decided to be the international rescue team helping other stuck competitors. It’s heart breaking to not be able to finish a rally,” he said.

Di Lallo said that they righted a rolled over side-by-side buggy to get them going again and helped a fellow Isuzu DMAX, a Chinese competitor entered in China Grand Rally who were stuck in the dunes.

“They were so happy that we'd helped them,” Di Lallo said.

“Though we had a long, tough day, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself driving through those majestic dunes. Surfing those monsters is unexplainable, unimaginable – it’s hard to describe.

“The earth often falls out from under you when you’re on the crest of those really sharp dunes and you just can't back off until you're over. Needless to say, my co-driver’s butt got a work out as we came down over the dunes!” Di Lallo quips.

Isuzu Motorsports was the last car authorised past CP2 that lead into the giant dunes.

Isuzu Motorsports was the T2 competitor to finish the stage, and has been the only T2 competitor to finish all stages thus far.

Isuzu Motorsports has outright lead in the T2 category of 209 hours over Aktau Motorsport in a Nissan Patrol (#136) and has maintained 14th position outright after Stage 12 of the 2017 Silk Way Rally (with T1 cars).

Leg 13 towards Zonghwei in China is made up of two specials. Competitors will start early with a first timed section of 162 kilometres in the magnificent desert scenery – a dream day for photographers and cameramen. Navigation will once again play a crucial role on the second 156-kilometre special through the dunes. While they are smaller than those the first, they are technically demanding. It will be pure pleasure for the competitors to surf their crests. The bravest will be the ones that do well on this stage.

Overall results after Stage 12

R Driver Team Time Gap
1 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 36:31:47 0:00:00
2 HAN Wei (CHN) GEELY AUTO COOPERTIRES TEAM 37:15:09 0:43:22
3 LAVIEILLE Christian (FRA) BAICMOTOR RACING TEAM 37:18:24 0:46:37
4 MENZIES Bryce (USA) X-RAID MINI JOHN COOPER WORKS RALLY TEAM 37:47:38 1:15:51
5 AMOS Eugenio (ITA) TWO WHEELS DRIVE 38:12:54 1:41:07
...
14 DI LALLO Adrian (AUS) ISUZU MOTORSPORT 60:38:16 24:06:29

Friday 21 July 2017
Leg 13: Alxa Youqi - Zhongwei, China
Leg distance: 690.31km
Special distance: 318.66km

Dust storm neutralises Stage 13 and T2 win crushed

The penultimate Leg of the gruelling 14-day Silk Way Rally has dished up more tough conditions with dunes as far as the eye could see, until a dust storm neutralised the stage.

Two specials of 162 kilometres and 156 kilometres made up Leg 13, which took competitors in towards Zhongwei, China.

It was an early start with a first timed section in the magnificently scenic but technically demanding Tengger Desert over small sharp dunes.

In car 135, Australian Isuzu Motorsports driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki in their Isuzu mu-X were the fastest of the T2 class in the first special.

“We had to do just about the whole first stage in low range,” Di Lallo explained.

“The track meandered through a massive dune field with water holes dotted throughout. The earth was like a sandy clay, grippy in patches and soft as powder in others, and then there were those nasty little ‘dunnettes’ which were very sharp, close together and difficult to navigate.

“The second stage of the day started out very enjoyable through sand tracks and rolling dunes but then became very tricky as the dunes got bigger and steeper and the sand got softer.

“We then drove into a dust storm and had some navigational issues because it just got stupid-hard to see.

“By the time we reached CP1 the stage had been neutralised for safety reasons as the organisers weren’t able to fly a chopper. It was a bummer for us as we were looking forward to it,” the West Australian driver said.

Isuzu Motorsports had the outright lead in the T2 category by more than 208 hours over Aktau Motorsport in a Nissan Patrol (#136) and has maintained 14th position outright after Stage 13 of the 2017 Silk Way Rally (with T1 cars).

However, it seems the team’s dreams of winning the T2 class, where only one other competitor remains 208 hours behind, will be shattered. What should be a celebration of endurance, durability, tenacity and skill is being overshadowed by an appeal.

“A few days ago we reported to the FIA stewards that we needed to change a driveline component following the issues we encountered on Leg 8. Two days later, without warning they decided to change our category from T2 to T1.

“The component is compliant but FIA T2 regulations state that for the cross country rally world championship where the races go for two or three days, replacement of any driveline component is not permitted.

“Rather than end our rally, we replaced the driveline component so we could finish. That’s always been our end goal, to drive every stage of the rally under our own steam. And we’ve done that. No other T2 competitor has done that. Our nearest rival has missed two and a half stages.

“Rules are the rules so as we can't question the decision but we did lodge an appeal respecting the regulations however requesting to be able to finish in the T2 category. We also stated that at the finish we would graciously stand aside. Our appeal was supported and signed by all remaining T2 competitors at that time. It should be noted that only one T2 competitor remains.

“So we’ve continued on as if we’re a T2 competitor while waiting for an outcome of our appeal. We haven’t had a response. As we approach the final day, our disappointment is overshadowing what should be a joyous occasion.

“Apart from the heartbreak we feel for not producing the result we came here for, we are encouraged by the immense amount of support from our families, friends, principals and race fans. For this we are eternally grateful.

“This race has been by far the most difficult that we have competed in and to have finished so strongly is a testament largely to the tireless work of the team in harsh conditions – a huge thanks to Rodger, Kano San, AJ and Broderick. Gentlemen, I salute you. It’s also a testament to the durability of the Isuzu mu-X – the poor girl copped a hiding every day and besides the driveline component, she kept going right through to the end.

“Although the history books may not say that we won, we have enjoyed a great deal of success and gained the respect of many through our speed, tenacity and integrity.

“To our families at home, thank you for putting up with us. We adore you,” the father of five said.

The final stage to conclude the 2017 Silk Way Rally was due to be a very technical 100.67 kilometres in the canyons; however it has been cancelled due to weather.

Competitors will make their way via the motorway to the final podium finish in Xi’an where the first vehicles are expected around 18h30 local time (GMT+8).

Overall results after Stage 13

R Driver Team Time Gap
1 DESPRES Cyril (FRA) TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 41:46:25 0:00:00
2 LAVIEILLE Christian (FRA) BAICMOTOR RACING TEAM 42:51:04 1:04:39
3 HAN Wei (CHN) GEELY AUTO COOPERTIRES TEAM 42:57:54 1:11:29
4 AMOS Eugenio (ITA) TWO WHEELS DRIVE 43:58:37 2:12:12
5 PETERHANSEL Stéphane (FRA) TEAM PEUGEOT TOTAL 44:23:52 2:37:27
...
14 DI LALLO Adrian (AUS) ISUZU MOTORSPORT 69:08:16 27:21:51

Sunday 23 July 2017

Overview

  • •  Total Leg distance: 9,599km
  • •  Special distance: 3993.33km
  • •  From the Red Square, Moscow on 7 July to Xi’an, China on 22 July
  • •  3 countries – Russia, Kazakhstan, China
  • •  15 days, 14 legs with special stages, 1 rest day in Kazakhstan on the 16 July
Isuzu Motorsports demonstrates they are a serious rally raid contender

The gruelling 14-day Silk Way Rally was a true test of man and machine against Mother Nature, and one in which Isuzu Motorsports in car #135 proved itself by winning class stages and moreover, winning the respect of other competitors, organisers and officials.

There were 33 cars that started the rally and only 23 that finished. Of those that started, five were production cars - just like those at the local car dealer which have only been modified for safety - yet only two made it to the end. Out of the remaining two, the Isuzu mu-X finished first with a lead of over 200 hours.

Isuzu Motorsports finished 14th outright, a result that includes vehicles in the main category, cars specifically purpose-built for rally raids that have little resemblance to their showroom counterparts.

It is a compelling result that demonstrates the durability of the mu-X and the endurance, integrity and tenacity of the team, particularly of driver Adrian Di Lallo and co-driver Harry Suzuki.

Of the 13 stages raced (Stage 14 was cancelled), Isuzu Motorsports finished faster on nine stages than cars in the main category, those exclusively designed to combat rally raid conditions. Impressively, they finished 93 hours faster in the overall rankings than the highly modified diesel 4x4 Mitsubishi L200 in the main category.

Travelling 9,599 kilometres and racing over 4,000 kilometres through Russia, Kazakhstan and China, the conditions were some of the most challenging of any rally raid on the planet.

From mountainous sand dunes as far as the eye could see to the thick slick mud, torrential rain, dust storms and collapsed bridges, the Isuzu mu-X not only withstood the challenge but also strived to prove it is a serious rally raid contender.

The biggest test of the Silk Way Rally was in the first five stages. Isuzu Motorsports won four of the five stages over their closest production car rival, the Land Cruiser 200 of team Toyota Autobody, a veteran team with 13 Dakar class titles; they were forced to retire after Stage 5.

From then on, Isuzu Motorsports held a comfortable lead over other production cars.

“The 2017 Silk Way Rally has been a very important race for us,” West Australian driver Di Lallo said.

“It felt good to be behind the wheel of a production car that’s competitive. The terrain was extremely challenging and the mu-X just kept going. In fact, we were the only production car to compete and complete every stage of the Silk Way Rally under our own steam, without outside assistance.

“As a team, we are very proud of what we have achieved, how we worked together and how we faced the challenges thrown at us.

“We have taken away vital intelligence on car construction, setup and the way we do things.

“We now know that we have the speed to match it with the best in the business.

“Now we just need to work on some refinement to the awesome platform we have and come back with our swags, goodwill and the credits we have banked with the rally gods.

“We have enjoyed a great deal of success and gained the respect of many through our speed, tenacity and integrity,” Di Lallo said.

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