Rally Crosses the Border into Chile, the Primary Arena of the Second Half.
Trucks cross the Andes Mountains and arrive at Calama in northern Chile.
On January 13, Dakar Rally contestants raced from Salta, Argentina to Calama, Chile. The route first took them on a 522km liaison section that crossed the Andes Mountains and the Argentina-Chile border into Chile. This was followed by a 302km SS that took them to the bivouac in Calama. The SS consisted of mountain roads at elevations ranging from 2200m to 3500m, with road surfaces consisting predominantly of gravel. It also featured combinations of high-speed pistes, and off-piste terrain with continuous stretches of fesh-fesh (sandy terrain consisting of deposits of fine, powdery soil), making for extremely dusty conditions on the course.
Car 1 piloted by the Yoshimasa Sugawara/Katsumi Hamura crew
Both of HINO TEAM SUGAWARA's HINO500 Series trucks completed this stage in great form. Car 2, which the Teruhito Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura crew pushed rather hard to improve their starting position for the following day, finished at 22nd in the overall trucks category and in top place in the Under 10-litre Class. Yoshimasa Sugawara and Katsumi Hamura on Car 1 finished at 36th overall and 2nd in the class despite being beleaguered by harshness in their suspension. This brings the accumulated overall rankings for Car 2 and Car 1 to 16th and 26th place, respectively. Both trucks continue to maintain their solid lead in 1-2 positions in the Under 10-litre Class (The time difference with the 3rd position truck in the class was not known as of this writing).
Starting tomorrow, the teams will be taking on stages set in the Atacama Desert which are expected to be the climax of this race. Neither of the trucks have any problems, but the team's mechanics carried out thorough inspections late into the night nonetheless.
Yoshimasa Sugawara: At 800km, this was a long stage so I'm glad we were able to make it to the bivouac before sundown. We haven't been able to get the suspension settings just right so we will be making adjustments to the shock absorbers' damping force tonight again.
Katsumi Hamura: I started to feel sick on the high altitude sections in the liaison, but I was feeling well by the time we reached the SS. At any rate, the dust was just terrible today.
Teruhito Sugawara: We traveled the Salta-Calama route in the opposite direction last year, but the border-crossing liaison this year was a road we hadn't been on before. While we lost some time yesterday because the altitude tuning for our engine didn't go as well, we did well today. The crucial stages start tomorrow so we pushed hard to improve our starting order.
Hiroyuki Sugiura: The fesh-fesh was terrible and that drove home for me that we had finally entered Chile. The four days starting tomorrow are going to be the most important stages for this race.