One-two finish in the SS to Arica in the Under 10-liter category. Completed the challenging dune stage to end of the first half.
On January 7th, contestants traveled from Iquique to Arica to finish the last day of the first half. A 456km SS was designated in the northern part of the Atacama Desert, which included some areas that were traveled on January 6th. Numerous contestants were forced to spend the night in the SS on the 6th, which included the first full-blown desert stage, with only 38 trucks having reached the goal at Iquique as of 7 am on the 7th. Nine trucks were either en route or withdrew from the rally. In response, officials announced that they will be extending the maximum allowed time for this route by 1 hour, which meant that as long as vehicles were able to make it to the start of the road section at Iquique by 1 pm, they would be able to start. The SS for this day was set in the northern area of the Atacama Desert. The course first took the contestants south from Iquique, then turned back on a northerly route that traversed the eastern part of the desert. This was a very challenging stage featuring a great deal of sandy terrain, covered with sand or powder sand (fesh-fesh).
HINO TEAM SUGAWARA and their two HINO 500 Series trucks put on a solid fight throughout this dune stage, taking full advantage of the lightweight bodies of these trucks. Starting 9th in line, Car 2 piloted by Teruhito Sugawara and Seiichi Suzuki passed checkpoints 1 and 2 in 8th position. Although they would fall back to 10th position later in the race, they maintained their pace throughout the SS to come in at stage rankings of 10th, 1st, and 1st place in the Trucks, Series Production Trucks, and Under 10-liter categories, respectively, a brilliant performance that brings it among the ranks of large modified trucks. Car 1 piloted by Yoshimasa Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura started 15th in line and improved their position to 12th at checkpoint 4, the last checkpoint, achieving stage rankings of 12th, 3rd, and 2nd place in the Trucks, Series Production Trucks, and Under 10-liter categories, respectively. As such, the HINO 500 Series trucks achieved a one-two finish in the Under 10-liter category for this stage, considered by many to be the most challenging section in the first half of the rally. The overall rankings for Car 2 were 11th, 2nd, and 1st in the Trucks, Series Production Trucks, and Under 10-liter categories, respectively, and Car 1 came in at 13th, 3rd, and 2nd in these respective categories to finish off the first half of the rally (rankings are preliminary).
Arica, a town in the northern most area of Chile, is close to the Chilean-Peruvian border to the north and the Chilean-Bolivian border to the east, and represents the northern most point of this rally. Tomorrow, on January 8, teams will spend the only rest day of this rally in this town. The five mechanics selected from Hino motors and dealers nationwide continued to work late into the night at the bivouac that was set up near the beach to refreshen the trucks in preparation for the second half of the rally.
Teruhito Sugawara: Although we didn't overly exert ourselves, it's been a while since I've had such a tough day. There weren't as many dunes as I had expected, but they were difficult to get over. The rest was basically very bumpy road so we were able to reach the goal in good form.
Seiichi Suzuki: The coolant temperature didn't rise at all so no problem there. In terms of navigation, it was difficult to pick out the GPS way points driving in the dunes. We even had to drive around in the dunes looking for the points.