Isuzu D-Max and Lohitt a winning combo


KUCHING: India’s Lohitt V Urs was crowned the 2009 AAM Malaysian 4×4 Rally Championship champion when he drove his trusty Isuzu D-Max to a well-deserved victory in the final event in Temerloh, Pahang recently.

ONE TOUGH MACHINE: Winners of the 2009 AAM Malaysian 4x4 Rally Championship with their trophies.

ONE TOUGH MACHINE: Winners of the 2009 AAM Malaysian 4x4 Rally Championship with their trophies.

Securing his third win in the 2009 season with a determined drive throughout the weekend’s three slippery and treacherous special stages, Lohitt, from Mysore in Kerala, battled first with championship contender Chong Wee Siang in an equally-powerful Isuzu D-Max before a rare snapped driveshaft threatened to end his winning streak in his debut season on Malaysian soil.

Equally delighted were his sponsors Isuzu Malaysia and chief executive officer Takashi Hata congratulated the new champion on his impressive form.

“It has to be noted that Lohitt did us proud by proving the capabilities of the D-Max, winning three out of the four rounds.

“He drove with remarkable skill and determination and proved once again that Isuzu has the performance and durability to deliver the goods when needed,” he said in a statement.

“The 2009 AAM Malaysian 4×4 Rally Championship had been very challenging as all four rounds placed their own demands on man and machine with conditions ranging from rough and narrow tracks to high speed and bumpy forest roads.

“I’m glad the top drivers chose to compete in the Isuzu D-Max as it is the very best machine for all demanding conditions.”

Despite leading the standings going into the event, Lohitt knew defending champion William Mei and newcomer Chong Wee Siang, just 10 and 11 points adrift, were behind the wheels of equally-powerful and robust Isuzu D-Max.

With 15 championships points left, the title was anyone’s for the taking.

As rain fell incessantly before the start of the event, the tracks through the forest complex of Hutan Kemasul became extremely greasy and Chong threw down the gauntlet by setting the fastest time through the stage, beating Lohitt by 24 seconds despite having gone off the road once.

First timer Anil Wadia of India was well on the pace in third position overall, driving a D-Max for the first time and revelling in the muddy conditions.

Mei was more cautious on the slimy forest roads and slipped back ro sixth position.

SS2 was the turning point as Chong clipped a tree stump trying to catch Lohitt, and suffered a puncture.

He had to stop and change the flat tyre, setting him back 13 minutes and taking him out of contention.

Lohitt also faced an unusual driveshaft snap in the same stage but the remarkable pace and balance of the D-Max meant he only lost less than a minute to Lim Seng Hai’s Triton that was not on the pace of the leading Isuzus.

Despite having his only rivals leave the title race, Lohitt did not settle for a safe result. He held a slender 32-second lead over the Mitsubishi driver and was going for glory.

The last stage was run in the more ‘traditional’ oil palm plantation near Kerdau and the expected challenge from the Triton did not materialise as it was not in the performance league of the D-Max.

Lohitt blasted through the 32-km stage to win by a margin of 54 seconds and with it, recorded his first hat-trick of international rally wins and his first international rally title.

“I’m absolutely elated. The D-Max performed magnificently and apart from the broken driveshaft today, we had a trouble-free run all season.

“I’m really thankful to my sponsors Isuzu Malaysia for giving me a competitive and reliable car all year,” he said.

Mei conceded the championship title and was magnanimous in defeat and had nothing but praise for the new champion.

“Lohitt drove very well all season. He knew when he could push his D-Max hard and held back when necessary. He is a deserving champion and I’m glad he helped Isuzu retain the trophy,” he said.

Isuzu Malaysia product development manager Wan Zaqi Zacary paid tribute to the drivers and their cars that had raised the level of competition in the 2009 championship.

“The standard has definitely gone up a significant notch. It’s for the good of the sport and the spectators.

“I’m also glad the D-Max has become the number one choice when it comes to tough and rugged events such as rallying or off-road expeditions.

“This proves that Isuzu’s multi-dimensional attributes work well not only on paper but also in real life situations. Winning awards is one thing. Being the best in competition is genuine proof of a product’s superiority,” Zaqi said.