Isuzu is set to take on the Dakar Rally next January with a D-Max prepared by the Isuzu Motorsports International Off-Road Race Team. The Dakar-ready pickup, based on a production D-Max 4×4 double-cab, has been enhanced to increase performance and to withstand the rigours of the 8,000 km run from Lima, Peru to Santiago, Chile.

Participating in the ‘Car class – T2 (Cross Country Series Production vehicles),’ the D-Max Dakar will be piloted by Australian pair Bruce Garland (driver) and Harry Suzuki (co-driver).

The vehicle’s 3.0 litre commonrail turbodiesel mill, based on a standard Isuzu engine, has 242 hp and 589 Nm of torque, mated to a four-wheel drive system and a sequential five-speed Hollinger gearbox and Xtreme rally clutch. It’s good enough to give this one a 0-100 km/h time of just 7.0 seconds (on dirt) and a top speed of 190 km/h.

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, and the D-Max Dakar rides on 16 x 7-inch ROH Trojan alloy wheels, shod with Toyo Open Country M/T-R tyres.

The Dakar isn’t a stranger to the Australian-based team. In 2009, it enjoyed success in the race with a previous-generation D-Max, finishing as the first diesel-powered pickup in the field.