Hino, the only Japanese truck manufacturer to take on the challenge of the gruelling annual Dakar Rally, is involved with an accelerated performance enhancement programme for its two four-wheel drive 500-Series trucks which will take part in the 2014 event in South America.
The experienced Team Sugawara will once again be responsible for the Hino entries in the race which has seen them score numerous category wins (engines under 10-litres) while building up an amazing and unequalled record of 23 consecutive finishes.
The 2014 Dakar Rally will start in Rosario, Argentina, on January 5 and finish in Valparaiso, a Chilean resort town on January 18. The motorcycles and quads will have a two-day detour through Bolivia while the cars and trucks traverse the Andes Mountains.
Next year marks the culmination of Hino’s three-year plan to get into the leading overall rankings and many changes are being made to the trucks to further improve performance. This will include more powerful engines and refined braking and suspension systems. The modifications are being carried out at Hino Engineering’s factory which specialises in customising production trucks to meet specific customer requirements.
Yoshimasa Sugawara and his second son Teruhito will again drive the team’s trucks. The father, who is now 72, will be entering his 23rd Dakar Rally while his son, who scored his fifth consecutive win in the under 10-litre category last year, will drive the team’s lead truck. His father’s Hino will be a virtual test bed for performance-enhancing new technologies and components not tried in previous races.
The same co-drivers will be used as for the 2013 rally, namely Hiroyuki Sugiura paired with Teruhito and Katsumi Hamura with Yoshimasa, who is also the team’s director.
The team will have the opportunity of testing all the latest changes when it competes in the Mongolia Rally next month. There will then be enough time for fine-tuning before the trucks are shipped to Argentina.
Next year the team will also have a new support truck in the form of a Hino 700 Series ZS model which is popular on construction sites and in mining operations in countries outside Japan.
Some of the support team technicians will again be selected from Hino dealerships in Japan, which has proved a very effective motivational programme for the dealers as their technicians strive to go on this prestigious event with Hino Team Sugawara.