Team completes the Andes crossing stage in solid form.
The two HINO 500 Series maintain their one-two rankings in the Under 10-liter category.
On January 13th, the course for the Dakar Rally 2011 turned southward from Chilecito, Argentina to San Juan. This involved a long SS, divided into two sections, originally planned to span a total distance of 622 km in the Andes Mountains. The first part consisted of a 224-km course where contestants crossed mountains that reached 3200+ meters above sea level on a course that winded through valleys of waji (dry riverbeds). This was followed by a 160-km paved neutral zone, which was then followed by the second half of the SS, a 238-km section that was somewhat of a high-speed course. However, organizers created a shortcut in a section of the letter S-shaped second half, shortening the SS by 90 km to a length of 532 km. As a result, contestants arrived somewhat earlier than originally scheduled.
The rally has entered the final stages, and while there will be no extremely challenging sand dunes beyond Chilecito, there will continue to be a variety of risk factors on the course. The crews must deliver a solid race and avoid mistakes at all costs so as not to forfeit the positions that they have achieved so far in the race. The two HINO 500 Series trucks fielded by HINO TEAM SUGAWARA and the crew delivered consistent performance again today, with Car 2 piloted by Teruhito Sugawara and Seiichi Suzuki, which started from a starting position of 7th, coming in at 9th, 1st, and 1st places in the Trucks, Series Production Trucks, and Under 10-liter categories, respectively. Car 1 piloted by Yoshimasa Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura also completed the SS at stage rankings of 26th, 7th, and 4th places in these respective categories.
With these results, Car 2 maintained overall rankings of 9th, 1st, and 1st places in the Trucks, Series Production Trucks, and Under 10-liter categories, respectively. Car 1 came in at 11th, 3rd, and 2nd places in these respective categories (rankings are preliminary). And while Car 1 fell back to 3rd place in the Series Production Trucks category, the two trucks still maintain one-two positions in the Under 10 liter category.
Tomorrow, on January 14th, the course will start at San Juan and head back to Cordoba. While the Bikes and Cars categories will be taking on a 555-km SS, the first part of which features dunes, the Trucks category will be starting midway for a shorter 266-km SS and will not be facing the dunes in the first half. In any case, as we have only two more stages until the final goal and this was no time to be letting our guards down, HINO TEAM SUGAWARA mechanics were being extra careful in inspecting the trucks.
Yoshimasa Sugawara: Today, we raced through a gallery stage where spectator seats were set up along a waji. It's not unheard of for teams to encounter accidents that force them to withdraw on the final day, so we must keep our guards up and remain extra cautious.
Hiroyuki Sugiura: As we are in the final stages, I am going to focus my navigation efforts to watch out for surface features to avoid damaging the truck. After having crossed awe-inspiring sand dunes, I feel quite emotional to think that we have only two more days.
Teruhito Sugawara: It was hot throughout today's stage. The road surface was hard so there probably wasn't much driving resistance, but the air temperature topped 45єC which was probably why the coolant temperature reached 108єC. The dust was also brutal so we had a lot to look out for in this SS. The next 2 days, I plan to deliver solid results, racing in such a way that we aren't fully exerting ourselves or the truck.
Seiichi Suzuki: We don't have any major problems with our trucks. We will be making some minor changes such as replacing the rear stabilizer to one with different specs as part of some tests we're are running, and tune the high-speed sides of our shock absorbers.