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Forgot about Isuzu, did you? Well the Japanese automaker is still alive and kicking, and aims to shout its survival from the South American wilderness with this Dakar-spec D-Max pickup.
Though it hasn't sold passenger vehicles in the United States since 2009, Isuzu still sells commercial trucks here, and its passenger vehicles in markets overseas. Among them is the D-Max pickup like the one seen here which the Japanese automaker has outfitted specially for the Dakar Rally. To get its pickup ready for one of the most grueling motorsport events ever devised, this D-Max 4x4 double-cab has been fitted with a series of upgrades aimed at taking the truck across 5,000 miles of arduous South American terrain.
Among the upgrades, the 3.0-liter 16-valve common-rail turbodiesel engine has been tweaked to 242 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque, driving all four wheels through a Hollinger five-speed sequential racing transmission with Xtreme rally clutch. The underbody has also been fortified with eight millimeter-thick aluminum skid plates and carbon fiber panels. DBA Kangaroo Paw ventilated disc brakes and Harrop racing calipers are packed into 16-inch ROH Trojan alloy wheels with Toyo Open Country M/T-R tires. The result of the modifications is a seven-second 0-62 time on dirt and a 118 mph top speed.
Australian pilot Bruce Garland will be driving the D-Max in the rally, assisted by Isuzu Motorsport director Harry Suzuki. The pair hope to repeat the team's success in the 2009 Dakar Rally in which the D-Max finished first out of all diesel pickups.