Truck racing fans will be thrilled to hear that Hino Motors in Japan is taking a bigger interest in its Hino Team Sugawara, which has been a successful competitor in the Dakar Rally since 1992, and is going all out to ensure the team improves its opportunities of getting into the leading group of trucks in upcoming races.
Apart from competing in the Silk Way Rally from July 6th to 16th in preparation for next year’s Dakar Rally, the team has been restructured following the retirement of Yoshimasa Sugawara, both as a driver and director of Hino Team Sugawara. This grand man of truck racing is known as the ‘Iron Man of Dakar’ after 36 starts and 29 finishes, including a record 20 consecutive finishes. He has been succeeded in the latter position by his son, Teruhito, also a very successful Dakar competitor.
In its determination to add more weight to the team, Hino Motors has now included a dedicated chief engineer and officer in charge of engineering who will have access to 70 other Hino employees in specialist positions.
Ikuo Hanawa, an experienced off-road racing driver, has also joined the team to drive the second truck. The team also has a host of new members in terms of navigators, mechanics, and support crew, with 21 or them due to take part in the Silk Way Rally.
Besides further improving its already successful 500 Series racing truck, the team has developed a new truck based on the North America-exclusive Hino 600 Series with a bonnet-type cab. Teruhito Sugawara will drive the 500 model and Hanawa the American-type model in the Silk Way Rally which follows a route through Russia, Mongolia, and China over 10 days.
Both truck models are fitted with A09C-T1 6-cylinder inline turbo diesel engines of 9-litre displacement. The latest version of the engine develops 750 horsepower at 2 600 r/min. Both trucks are four-wheel drive. The 500 model will continue to use a 6-speed manual transmission while the 600 model is fitted with a 6-speed torque converter automatic transmission. Both trucks carry 760 litres of fuel.
The truck frames are now of box section to make them even more rigid and a cab suspension system that covers both lateral and vertical movement has been developed to reduce crew fatigue.
Both trucks will have three seats to carry an additional team member who will have extensive technical experience to deal with any problems that may arise. Hino has traditionally relied on two-person crews in the past.
With new resources and meticulous preparation, the Hino Team Sugawara is going to be the one to watch in the next Dakar Rally.