Team is jubilant as both HINO 500 Series trucks make it to the podium.
Team celebrates Hino Motors' 20th anniversary in the rally with a championship in the Series Production Trucks category, and a straight win in the Under 10-liter category.
January 16th, the goal ceremony of the Dakar Rally 2011 was held at a special venue set up in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina. Contestants completed the final stage at the finish line in Buenos Aires on the 15th, and the official rankings were finalized that night. The teams would then be recognized based on these results at the goal ceremony on the 16th. On the day of the goal ceremony, Buenos Aires enjoyed sunny weather and temperatures topping 30C until the weather changed later in the day, showering the city with heavy, storm-like rain. In spite of these conditions, a large number of fans turned out to the venue that was set up at the Rural Palace, cheering on each vehicle as they appeared on the podium. The HINO 500 Series trucks from HINO TEAM SUGAWARA appeared after 3:30 pm. The first to appear was Car 2, its crew, and mechanics who achieved 9th place overall in the trucks category, and won the championships in the Series Production Trucks and Under 10-liter categories. Amidst roaring applause, Teruhito Sugawara and Seiichi Suzuki shook hands passionately with Hino chairman Mr. Kondo and senior managing director Mr. Fujii who were visiting from Japan. This was followed by Car 1, which came in at 13th, 3rd, and 2nd places in the Trucks, Series Production Trucks, and Under 10-liter categories, respectively. Yoshimasa Sugawara exchanged an emphatic hug with Etienne Lavigne, director of the Dakar Rally, and was all smiles as he responded to the crowd along with navigator Hiroyuki Sugiura and the team of mechanics.
This was the third Dakar Rally to be held in South America. The 15-day, 9500-km course featured elevations that exceeded 3000 m, sandy mountain crossings where steep uphill climbs continued for miles, and deserts where the temperature reached up to 50єC, making for extremely grueling stages that were distinct from those found in Africa. Additionally, the Trucks category saw the entry of many large trucks including Kamaz of Russia -- a podium regular in the Large Modified Trucks category -- as well as Tatra, Man, Iveco, and Ginaf, many of which boasted power in the 900hp range. This was truly a tough fight for HINO TEAM SUGAWARA, which was aiming to achieve top spots on their medium-sized HINO 500 Series trucks.
But once the rally started, the two HINO 500 Series trucks persisted and put up an amazing fight. The team coolly maintained their pace in the early stages where power ruled the day. As the race moved on to Chile where contestants were faced with challenging dunes, the two trucks quickly moved up in rankings. Once the team attained solid positions with Car 2 in top spot in the Series Production Trucks category, and Car 1 in 2nd spot, giving the team one-two positions in the Under 10-liter category, both crews maintained their composure throughout the later stages that were extremely difficult for trucks as evidenced by the large number of trucks tipping over. As a result, the team was able to win the championship in the Series Production Trucks category, and a one-two win in the Under 10-liter category on this memorable 20th anniversary of Hino's entry in this race since its first entry in 1991. The fact that an under 10-liter truck with series production truck specifications was able to come in 9th overall amidst larger trucks in the modified category is evidence of the superb driving performance and durability of HINO 500 Series trucks, as well as the excellent capabilities of the team. Of the 68 vehicles that started in the Trucks category, only 41 finished which made for a low finish rate of 60% for this category. The overall finish rate including bikes and cars was 50.1%, reflecting the grueling conditions which contestants faced in this year's rally.
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