Trucks Take on the Atacama Desert in Great Shape on the First Day of the Rally's Highlight
Car 2 finishes at a praiseworthy 16th place for the SS. Car 1 is also proceeding carefully.
January 15, contestants competed on a 631km course that started at Iquique and finished at Antofagasta. The SS for the day consisted of two segments; a 231km segment in the first half, followed by a 185km neutral zone, and then a 215km segment in the second half. In the 231km-long first half, contestants faced 70km of dunes followed by a high-speed course featuring some sections with fesh-fesh, making the day as challenging as it was long and dusty.
Car 1 piloted by the Yoshimasa Sugawara/Katsumi Hamura crew
HINO TEAM SUGAWARA's HINO500 Series trucks showed their true mettle under these challenging conditions. Teruhito Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura on Car 2 completed the dune section in the first half in great shape, and had moved up to 11th place at CP1 (checkpoint 1) that immediately followed the dunes. While they were overtaken by their oversized rivals in high-speed sections where acceleration becomes the determining factor, Car 2 finished the SS at 16th place overall and top in the Under 10-litre Class. Meanwhile, Car 1 finished the first half at 34th place, and started the second half at 33rd position.
However, as of this writing at 9:40pm, Car 1 has not yet passed one of the CPs towards the end of the SS. We believe they are on their way as we have not received word of any problems, and we expect that it will be past 11:00pm by the time they arrive at the bivouac.
The course for January 16 is scheduled to include a 605km SS with dunes near the Copiapo area en route to the finish in El Salvador. This dunes section stretches for 120km and is expected to be the most challenging section of this year's race. At the bivouac set up near the coast in Antofagasta, Hino team members were on their toes and maintained a no-fuss attitude as they carried out their preparations.
Teruhito Sugawara: I think the real challenge will be the area near Copiapo tomorrow. That is what we've been preparing for so we are in good shape. We will be keeping our cool going into the race. Car 1 hasn't arrived yet, but there is no need for concern as they should be moving along fine.
Hiroyuki Sugiura: We completed the dunes section really well today. We had to turn back once when we missed a GPS point after the dunes, but things went well overall.