Car 2 Sustains Minimal Damage
Things go smoothly for Car 1 and team maintains 1st and 2nd positions in the Under 10-litre Class
January 7, the third day of Dakar Rally 2014 took the contestants from San Rafael to San Juan, Argentina. From San Rafael, the racers took a 292 km liaison segment to the west side of Mendoza where they started on a 245 km SS on the mountain roads in the area. Although all categories were given notice immediately prior to the start that the courses could be shortened due to the effects of rainfall over the past few days (deteriorating road conditions), conditions had improved by then and the SS was carried out at the scheduled distance.
Damage on Car 2 is minimal.
The previous day, HINO TEAM SUGAWARA’s HINO500 Series truck Car 2, piloted by the Teruhito / Sugawara Hiroyuki Sugiura crew, finished the SS at 13th overall, and Car 1 crewed by Yoshimasa Sugawara and Katsumi Hamura finished at 30th place. These results brought Car 2’s accumulated rankings in the Trucks category to 15th place and 1st place in the Under 10-litre Class, and Car 1’s rankings to 33rd overall and 2nd in the Class. Car 2 arrived at the bivouac in San Rafael without event at around 9pm and Car 1 arrived before 11pm. Neither truck experienced any problems, and breezily took off from San Rafael in the morning on January 7.
As the first mountain course in this year’s race, the route for the day took contestants through highlands where several segments exceeded elevations of 3000 m. The road surface consisted of hard gravel and some sections were quite narrow for trucks to pass. There were also areas with fesh-fesh, deposits of powder soil, as well as muddy sections and river crossings that cropped up due to earlier rainfall.
Everything had been going smoothly for Car 2 until it encountered a vehicle in front of it stuck in fesh-fesh with about 60km left to go in the SS. As the crew attempted to evade the stuck car with the navigator flagging the driver, one of its wheels got misdirected in a crevasse and the truck tipped over with its side leaning against a bank. However, because it tipped over slowly at low speed, damage to the truck was minimal and there was no noticeable impact on its driving performance. Car 2 went on to finish the SS with about 30 minutes of lost time, coming in at 28th in the Trucks category overall and top in the Under 10-litre Class. Meanwhile, Car 1 maintained a consistent pace and finished the SS at 30th overall and 2nd in the Class. As a result, although Car 2 moved down slightly to 17th place in the Trucks category overall, Car 1 moved up to 31st place. The trucks continued to maintain their 1st and 2nd places in the Under 10-litre Class.
The bivouac at San Juan was set up in a race track nestled between rocky mountains in the outskirts of the city, where daytime temperatures reached above 40ºC under the glaring sun. Bikes division racers stayed at a separate bivouac nearby as this was a marathon segment for the division where servicing by the team was not allowed. At the Hino bivouac, where the centerpiece was the HINO700 Series ZS (export version of the heavy-duty Hino Profia truck) assisting truck, mechanics got to work as soon as the racing trucks arrived.
Yoshimasa Sugawara: We are maintaining a steady pace to fulfill our mission as testers of the new truck, and the truck and crew are doing really well. Today, we plan to have the rear suspension settings adjusted to reduce its harshness.
Katsumi Hamura: Navigation is going well. The race is going well for us. I think we’re getting used to the new truck too.
Teruhito Sugawara: The tip over was unfortunate, but we will be continuing our race tomorrow and onward with a refreshed state of mind.
Hiroyuki Sugiura: We straightened ourselves half way up on our own power after we tipped over, and also received assistance from a truck that came later who pulled us out. I think we lost about 30 minutes, including the time it took to purge the fuel line of air. It was a bit of a disappointment as things were going well up to that point.