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Isuzu has built the most spectacular and powerful D-Max pick-up ever to take on the Dakar Rally, one of the most gruelling races on earth, in January 2013.

Based on the robust underpinnings of a production Isuzu D-Max 4x4 double-cab, the Dakar-ready pick-up has been enhanced to increase performance and to withstand the rigours of over 5,000 miles of arduous terrain, between Lima, Peru and the finish in Santiago, Chile.

The vehicle is powered by an Isuzu-developed 3.0-litre (2,994cc) 16-valve common-rail turbo diesel engine, producing maximum power output of 242 horsepower and 589 Nm of torque. The powerplant, based on a standard Isuzu engine, is mated to a four-wheel drive system and a sequential five-speed Hollinger gearbox and Xtreme rally clutch.

To protect the vehicle and its occupants against rock impacts and potential accidents, the chassis features custom-built, full-length eight millimetre aluminium skid plates, while the steel cab body is fitted with an integrated roll-cage and carbon-fibre panels that shield the pick-up's key components.

Isuzu has added DBA Kangaroo Paw ventilated disc brakes with cross-drilled discs and Harrop aluminium racing callipers to give the racer incredible stopping power. The Isuzu D-Max Dakar rides on 16 x 7-inch ROH Trojan alloy wheels, shod with Toyo Open Country M/T-R tyres, for maximum ground clearance when traversing crests, dips and everything in between.

The result of these upgrades is an even tougher pick-up than the road-going model, with exhilarating performance to match. Zero-to-62 mph is taken care of in just seven seconds (on dirt) and top speed has been recorded as high as 190 kph.

The experienced Isuzu Motorsports International Off-Road Race Team has carried out all preparation of the vehicle, which will be piloted by Australian pair Bruce Garland (driver) and Harry Suzuki (co-driver). The Isuzu Motorsports International Off-Road Race Team, based in Australia, enjoyed success at the 2009 Dakar event with a previous-generation D-Max, finishing as the first diesel-powered pick-up in the field.

Harry Suzuki, co-driver and director of Isuzu Motorsports, commented: "The Isuzu D-Max is the perfect Dakar machine. It has the ideal blend of rugged ability and performance, and race prepared by our specialist team, the Isuzu D-Max Dakar will deliver where it counts."

Suzuki continues: "While our Isuzu D-Max Dakar pick-up is purpose-built and race-prepared to withstand the punishment of the toughest motorsport event on the calendar, more than half of the vehicle is built using standard Isuzu production parts and is completely recognisable as a series Isuzu D-Max. This fact reinforces that Isuzu is the manufacturer of tough vehicles able to take on any terrain."

The thirty-fifth-edition of the Dakar rally, and the fifth in South America, starts on 5 January 2013, finishing fifteen days later. The Isuzu D-Max Dakar will participate in the 'Car class ‐ T2 (Cross Country Series Production vehicles)'.