After six months of pretty dreary – and at times scary – life under the Covid-19 pandemic, good news for next year is that the Hino Team Sugawara has confirmed Hino’s entry into the 2021 Dakar Rally to be staged in Saudi Arabia from January 3-15th next year.
“Many people and companies are curtailing activities in the light of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic but we, Hino Team Sugawara, have reconfirmed our spirit to aim for our goals without giving up, regardless of the hardships we have to endure,” says Teruhito Sugawara, the team’s driver and director, when confirming Hino’s entry.
A man who is highly pleased with the decision is Pieter Klerck, general manager of Hino South Africa, who sees the Dakar Rally as always providing valuable feedback to the engineering teams developing the next generation of Hino trucks.
Hino, which has built up an amazing record for reliability and durability in the gruelling cross-country Dakar Rally, will be aiming for a 30th consecutive finish as well as to win the category for trucks with engines under 10-litres in capacity for the 12th successive year.
Last year a four-wheel drive Hino 500 Series, driven by Teruhito Sugawara, finished 10th overall out of 28 finishers and first in the under 10-litre engine class for the 11th year in a row.
Hino was the first Japanese truck manufacturer to tackle the daunting Dakar Rally when it entered the 1991 which took competitors from Paris to Dakar via Tripoli – a route of almost 10 000 km. Hino finished 7th, 10th and 124th out of 44 finishers.
The truck that Teruhito Sugawara will drive next year is a development of the 2020 racer and features various improvements based on previous experience, with the aim of being even faster in the timed special stages. These stages are usually dominated by monster trucks running engines much bigger than the Hino’s 9-litre, six-cylinder, turbocharged power unit, which develops 750 horsepower (550 kW) and 2 314 Nm. of torque.
With the Coronavirus racing across the world in January 2020, it was a lousy start to the year. Let’s hope the Dakar Rally will prove to kick off a better 2021 for all of us – and certainly for Hino as it races its way across the desert sands of Saudi Arabia to take the chequered flag.