Teams Enter the Atacama Desert, the Climax of this Rally
Cars 2 and 1 arrive safely. Finish 17th and 36th for the SS.
Dakar Rally 2014 entered its crucial stages on January 14, with contestants competing on a 422km course starting at Calama in the Andes Mountains and finishing at Iquique on the Pacific coast. Once down from the highlands of Calama, contestants faced 40km of dunes in the later part of the SS. In a setup that has become something of a tradition, the finish at Iquique had the racers descend a precipitous sandhill to the bivouac that was set up by the coast.
Car 2 arrives at the bivouac in Iquique.
With an aim to win its 5th straight championship in the Under 10-litre Class and finish at top rankings in the Trucks category overall, the crews of both HINO500 Series trucks fielded by HINO TEAM SUGAWARA pushed their trucks hard on the day's challenging courses to improve their positions. Teruhito Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura of Car 2 finished at 5:37pm delivering a great performance that clocked them at 14th place overall and 1st in the Under 10-litre Class.
Car 1 piloted by Yoshimasa Sugawara and Katsumi Hamura made a course error in the dunes sections in the later part of the SS, losing about 1 hour of time. The truck finished the SS at 36th place and made it back safely to the bivouac at around 9pm. Hino team mechanics are currently busy giving the trucks a thorough checkup in preparation for the race to Antofagasta tomorrow, January 15.
Yoshimasa Sugawara: It's been a while since I last drove at night, so I was reminded as to how much attention it can demand. As for the truck, we will be asking the mechanics to re-adjust the suspension again.
Katsumi Hamura: I made a course error towards the end and missed a way point (a GPS point on the route that race vehicles must pass), losing about an hour of time. We were doing pretty good up to that point so that was a disappointment.
Teruhito Sugawara: Today's stage made it clear that we are into the climax of this rally. The dunes weren't that difficult today, but I think we are in for real action starting tomorrow.
Hiroyuki Sugiura: The first half of the SS was pretty risky, particularly driving under very dusty conditions on roads with deep cracks. Navigation itself was not that difficult though.