Completed an unexpected muddy stage without event.
Both trucks are ready to take on the final stage to Buenos Aires.
January 14th, contestants traveled the route from San Juan to Cordoba in Argentina. There was a 266-km SS on this course which has been used many number of times over the years. While this SS is set to be 555 km for most contestants, the Trucks category will be starting at the 237-km point. This meant that trucks would be starting earlier than the Bikes and Cars categories, which is unusual. While the road surface consists of hard gravel, the rain that fell the previous night turned some parts of the roads along farm fields into mud pits. This unexpectedly turned these areas into major obstacles that caused even some trucks to get stuck. The organizers subsequently decided to cancel the competition for bikes and cars between check points 2 and 3, and bypass this section.
The crews of the two HINO 500 Series trucks fielded by HINO TEAM SUGAWARA took on this SS cautiously. While the muddy sections often reduced their forward visibility, they carefully steered around mud pits to complete the SS without encountering any problems. Car 2 piloted by Teruhito Sugawara and Seiichi Suzuki finished at 16th, 3rd, and 2nd places in the Trucks, Series Production Trucks, and Under 10-liter categories, respectively, and Car 1 piloted by Yoshimasa Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura finished at 27th, 8th, and 4th places in these respective categories. With these results, the two Hino trucks continued to maintain their one-two rankings in the Under 10-liter category, with Car 2 coming in at overall rankings of 9th, 1st, and 1st places in the Trucks, Series Production Trucks, and Under 10-liter categories, respectively, and Car 1 at 13th, 3rd, and 2nd places in these respective categories.
Tomorrow, January 15th, contestants will be leaving Cordoba for Buenos Aires to reach their final goal after a grueling 2-week race that spanned a distance of 9500 km. The 5 Hino mechanics were seen performing final inspections and maintenance until before daybreak at the same playground that was used as a bivouac on January 2nd.
Yoshimasa Sugawara: This morning, we got up at 3:00 and left the bivouac at 4:40. Thanks to that, we were able to reach Cordoba a little past noon. But it was a surprise when all of a sudden we came across muddy sections in the SS. Tomorrow, I would like to race a solid race and finish at Buenos Aires.
Hiroyuki Sugiura: Never let our guards down. This wasn't the kind of road we were expecting to see. There were no navigational issues, but it was mentally exhausting. We have one more day till we finish.
Teruhito Sugawara: It was muddy in a section of 10 km or so where we crossed farm fields. The road gradually got drier after that, and was completely dry towards the end of the SS where we were crossing the mountains. Because our trucks were fitted with sand tires, they were very slippery in the mud. We had to lower our air pressure and drive through the mud carefully.
Seiichi Suzuki: I'm glad we didn't get stuck in the mud. Because mud can get caked on the wheels and cause vibration, we're going to ask our mechanics to wash the trucks first before performing inspections and maintenance. I think the rear stabilizers that we tried on Car 2 worked out well.