Hino Team Sugawara will have had its confidence levels boosted for next year’s Dakar Rally following its recent performance in the annual Rally Mongolia off-road race which the team traditionally uses as an important part of its development programme for the big one.
The modified four-wheel drive Hino 500-Series truck finished fifth overall out of a field of 61 motorcycles and cars and won the truck category. The only vehicles ahead of it were two KTM motorcycles, a Toyota FJ Cruiser and a Pajero Evo, meaning the Hino was an impressive third out of an original field of 21 four-wheeled vehicles.
The event was run over eight days and on the third stage, the Hino was fastest among all the four-wheeled vehicles. A trouble free run allowed its crew, Teruhito Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura, to keep up the pressure until they reached the finishing line.
The total distance of 3 579km was made up of 3 016km of competitive sections and 563km of liaison sections. A total of 36 vehicles , 23 motorcycles and 13 four-wheeled vehicles – finished the route, which equated to a finishing rate of 59%.
“Rally Mongolia is run over a similar route each year and this time we were almost 10% quicker than ever before,’ said a delighted Teruhito Sugawara. “We’ve made substantial changes to the truck since the 2013 Dakar Rally and they all worked to ensure a big jump in performance levels.’
The engine power output has been boosted by 10% and there have been significant changes to the suspension and braking systems, while different tyres also made a big difference in the truck’s ability to traverse rough and sandy terrain.
The 2014 Dakar Rally will mark the end of the current three-year development programme for the Hino racing truck and the team believes solid progress has been made in the objectives of improving traction, steering and braking.
Yoshimasa Sugawara, the 71-year-old team principal of Hino Team Sugawara, took the advantage of driving the route in a privately-entered Suzuki Jimny and won the class for the fourth consecutive year.
Yoshimasa, who will be driving the second Hino in the 2014 Dakar Rally, used the event as training for next year’s event in South America and finished eighth out of the 13 four-wheeled vehicles to be classified as finishers. In May he had taken part successfully in a seven-day motorcycle rally in Japan as a further aspect of his Dakar training programme.
He holds the record for the most consecutive finishes in the Dakar Rally at 22, while his son, Teruhito, has contested the Dakar Rally 15 times and has finished out of the top 10 on only two occasions.