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Dakar Rally 2014 Race Report - Stage 13 and Finish Podium Jan 18, 2014

Team Wins Its 5th Straight Championship in the Under 10-litre Class
Car 2 delivers stunning performance coming in at 12th overall.

 
On January 18, contestants raced on a 157km SS in the final stage of Dakar Rally 2014 that took them from La Serena to Valparaiso. After finishing, the racers proceeded to the city center of Valparaiso to take part in a goal ceremony in a plaza facing the port, wrapping up 13 days of intense competition. Of the two HINO500 Series trucks fielded by HINO TEAM SUGAWARA, Car 2 piloted by Teruhito Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura came in 12th in the overall Trucks category and won the championship for the Under 10-litre Class. Car 1 piloted by Yoshimasa Sugawara and Katsumi Hamura came in 32nd overall and 2nd in the Class. This means the team was able to achieve its goal—which was to win Class championship for the 5th straight year—with a 1-2 finish to boot. In terms of overall rankings, Car 2 delivered a great performance coming in at 12th position beating out many of its oversized rivals, showcasing the excellent performance of their new racing truck, which was the culmination of the team's development efforts.


After leaving the podium area, the team joins Mr. Ichikawa and local guests of Hino Motors for a group photo.

 

Although this year's rally, which started off from Rosario, Argentina and finished at Valparaiso, Chile was one day shorter than last year's race at 13 days, the total SS mileage was long at 5212km relative to the total travel distance of 9209km, and many expected it to be a tough race. Once out of the start line, contestants encountered many difficulties posed by the long stages and the sweltering heat, but on the other hand, the dunes stages in the Atacama Desert towards the last portion of the race were not particularly challenging. This meant that there were fewer opportunities for the HINO500 Series trucks to shine, given their excellent performance in relatively more challenging stages. Having said that, the two trucks continued to clock solid 1-2 finishes in the Under 10-litre Class from early on in the race. While a big part of Car 1's participation in this year's race was about testing its new engine—which is slated to power the trucks in next year's race—in real world conditions, it was still able to command a runaway lead ahead of the 3rd position truck.

The SS for January 18 consisted mainly of winding gravel roads. It was also quite short at 157km so there was very little leeway to make up for time even if the crews pushed their trucks hard. Car 2's crew made sure to drive carefully and came in at 17th overall and 1st in its Class for the SS. Car 1 finished at 43rd overall and 3rd in the Class. The trucks then traveled on a 257km liaison route to Valparaiso, where the goal podium was set up in front of a Chilean navy installation in a plaza by the port and ceremonies proceeded in a cheerful atmosphere which was typically South American.

Due to traffic jams, Car 2 and Car 1 reached the podium later than scheduled at around 11pm and after midnight, respectively. As local guests of Hino Motors looked on, the crews shook hands with Mr. Ichikawa, chairman of Hino Motors. Overjoyed with winning the Class championship, they all basked in the shower of champagne on stage.

Masakazu Ichikawa: Car 2's performance was just amazing this year, and Car 1 did very well too. While we are the quickest and essentially unrivaled in the Under 10-litre Class, we are committed to aiming for a spot in the top 10 in the overall Trucks category next year.

Yoshimasa Sugawara: I took part in this year's Dakar Rally as a test driver for our new truck, and I'm very happy with the results. I am particularly moved by the fact that we, my son and I, were able to achieve a 1-2 finish in the Under 10-litre Class. I would like to thank everyone who helped us make this happen.

Katsumi Hamura: A lot happened along the way, but I'm very happy with the results. At any rate, I'm very relieved to have reached Valparaiso without much event.

Teruhito Sugawara: Race results show us finishing in 12th position, but there was much more substance to this year's race, so I have a great sense of achievement. I'm very happy to have finished with great results on the last truck to be powered by a J08C engine. I can't wait for the next Dakar Rally where we will likely be entering a truck powered by a 8.8-litre A09C engine.

Hiroyuki Sugiura: The distances were long this year. I think we could have finished higher up in position if the dunes were a bit more difficult. I got quite anxious when we tipped over, so I was relieved that we were able to get through that ordeal. I think I now have a better understanding of how difficult it is to finish in this rally.

Seiichi Suzuki: The water temperature on the new engine on Car 1 remained stable throughout the race, and the fan drive that we developed specifically for the mid-ship engine configuration had no problems, so that was a huge relief. Another thing that was reassuring was that we had an engineer on site who had extensive knowledge of the engines' computers.

Takeshi Suenaga: It feels like such a short period of time when I look back, but when we were in the thick of it, we were all just busy getting things done. I've got some things to reflect on including things that I realized only after making mistakes. It was also very interesting to know that different dealers in different regions of the country have different ways of using the same tools.

Hiroaki Tamura: The two weeks of the race just zipped by, and I'm glad we were able to deliver good results. I was surprised at the huge crowd at the podium.

Norishiro Senuma: This was the first time for me to travel outside of Japan, so everything was new for me. We were all very busy during the race, but was never a problem as long as we stayed fit physically. Just as my predecessors told me, staying fit is a big part of this race.

Tadahiko Fuke: It was over before I knew it. Day after day, it was a repetition of feeling anxious until the trucks finished the SS, and breathing a sigh of relief once they were back at the bivouac.

Katsuyuki Nagoshi: Now that it's over, two weeks feels like such a short time. We now have a better idea of what we should be doing next year and onward. I intend to take this experience home and make the best of it.

 

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