While other auto makers have dropped their motorsports ambitions, Isuzu competed at the Dakar Rally where the D-Max ranked 11th among 177 competing vehicles.
Piloted by Australian Bruce Garland and navigated by Japanese Harry Suzuki, the Isuzu D-Max was also the best diesel pickup in the 2009 staging of the world-famous off-road endurance race covering 9,500 kilometers across Argentine and Chile from January 3 to 18.
"This event is renowned for its harsh driving conditions that make for the ultimate proving ground for man and machine," said Isuzu Operations Thailand president Ken Takashima.
The manufacturer's participation in the Dakar Rally is part of the Isuzu Diesel Mission to prove the speed, power, endurance and fuel economy of Isuzu engines. Isuzu tapped the Australian rally team Garland Motor Sport to compete in three rally events to demonstrate Isuzu's diesel expertise to the world.
The Dakar-spec D-Max was powered by Isuzu's tried-and-tested 4JJ1 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine mated to a special Holinger five-speed manual transmission and was equipped with custom-made gold-plated shocks by Murray Coote Australia and free-floating rear axle hubs by Bosnjak, to name a few.
"The Isuzu D-Max, which is already famous for its durability and fuel economy, has proven that it has the power to stand out in the toughest international rally event in the world," added Takashima.
Aside from the Dakar Rally, the other two rally events that tested the D-Max's capabilities were the Australasian Safari and the UAE Desert Challenge.
Also making this year's Dakar Rally notable is that, for the first time in its 31-year history, the rally was held outside of Europe and Africa due to terrorist threats, the very reason why the staging of the 2008 edition of the much-awaited yearly event was cancelled.
The D-Max is available in 20 Isuzu dealerships in the Philippines.