Car 2 Comes in at 13th Place on the Long SS in the Atacama
Car 1 also delivers solid performance and finishes at 34th place.
Car 1, the HINO500 Series truck piloted by Yoshimasa Sugawara and Katsumi Hamura, experienced some delays as it made its way to Antofagasta yesterday on January 15, arriving at the bivouac 46 minutes after midnight at 44th place overall for the SS and 2nd place in the Under 10-litre Class (Rankings are provisional and time differences have not been announced as of this writing). Regardless, the truck and crew are doing fine, other than having made a number of course errors driving in the dark after sundown. Yoshimasa Sugawara was upbeat saying, "The dunes were not that difficult. We had the suspension adjusted quite few times up to this point and it is starting to feel much better." The crew took off full of energy for the race on January 16.
Yoshimasa Sugawara arrives at Antofagasta after midnight in great shape.
The course for the day took contestants from Antofagasta to El Salvador, and featured the longest SS in this year's rally (605km, no neutral zones) which was set in the central part of the Atacama Desert. The first half included mountain roads that climbed up and down through 3000m+ highlands, and the second half took the contestants on a 120km stretch of desert and dunes. Car 2, the HINO500 Series truck piloted by Teruhito Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura, boldly took on this SS, which was one of the highlights of this year's race. Starting at 18th place, the truck had moved up to 15th place by the time it reached the first CP (checkpoint). The crew continued to improve their position in the challenging dune sections and arrived at El Salvador in good form, finishing the SS at 13th overall and top in the Under 10-litre Class.
Car 1 also delivered solid performance finishing the SS at 34th overall and 2nd in its class. Based on these results, Car 2 moves up to 12th, and Car 1 moves up to 28th position in overall accumulated rankings. The Hino team continues to maintain its solid 1-2 lead in the Under 10-litre Class.On January 17, contestants will be racing on what is expected to be the final highlight of this year's race, a 350km SS on their way to La Serena.
Yoshimasa Sugawara: We drove very carefully today. The dunes were not that difficult, but our pace slowed down after sundown. I'm feeling good physically, and we will be exercising caution tomorrow as it will be the last dunes segment of the race.
Katsumi Hamura: Navigation was quite complex and I was kept quite busy, but I'm glad we were able to finish without making any major errors.
Teruhito Sugawara: While the day called for 120km of desert, the dunes section was essentially only 12km long. We've been here many times before, so we were familiar with the conditions in the area (which are not that challenging). More than that, I think the stage was a challenge in terms of its long distance, for example on the mountain roads in the early part of the day. Tomorrow again, we will be racing in the areas near Copiapo, and the dunes should be quite challenging. We will stay focused.
Hiroyuki Sugiura: The dunes weren't that difficult, but navigation was quite a busy and complex affair. We passed many trucks that had stopped, perhaps due to one problem or another.