Hino Trucks solidly complete the mountain course that calls for great self-restraint. Car 2 comes in 29 in the stage ranking, moving up to 19 in the overall ranking.
The two HINO 500 Series of HINO TEAM SUGAWARA made a good start on January 2, the first day with a special stage, with Car 2 coming in at 21st place in the Trucks category, 5th in the Series Production Trucks category, and 2nd place in the under 10-liter class, and Car 1 coming in at 43th, 15th, and 7th in these respective categories (As this was the first day, their overall rankings also happened to be the same). On January 3, the trucks took off to race the segment leading from Cordoba to San Miguel de Tucuman. The 324km SS that was designated midway on this north bound route from Cordoba-virgin territory for the Dakar Rally-featured a single gravel track winding through hilly terrain. Again, contestants were tormented by extremely slippery road conditions that were brought on by blowing rain. As the day before, for most of this stage, contestants were forced to navigate narrow winding mountain roads that made passing extremely difficult. As such, this stage continued to be a challenging one for trucks and called for great self-restraint. Shortcuts were again designated for bikes and at the 13km and 198km points, making for a stage that was approximately 24km shorter than that for other categories.
HINO TEAM SUGAWARA and their two HINO 500 Series trucks boldly, yet carefully completed this SS. Car 1 piloted by Yoshimasa Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura came in a solid 34th in the Trucks category and 10th in the Series Production Trucks category. Car 2 piloted by Teruhito Sugawara and Seiichi Suzuki came in 29th in the Trucks category and 8th in the Series Production Trucks category, delivering results that were actually better than some trucks in the modified category. Based on these results, the overall rankings as of this day for Car 1 were 34th in the Trucks category and 11th in the Series Production Trucks category. Car 2 was able to improve its overall rankings to 19th and 4th in these respective categories. After the SS, the contestants had to travel a link route for 326km, which meant that neither of our trucks had made it to Tucuman as of the 9 pm deadline for this posting. We have been informed, however, that neither of our trucks have encountered any problems. At the bivouac that has been set up in a corner of a horse racing track, five Hino mechanics are anxiously waiting for our trucks to arrive.
Takayuki Monma: Our teamwork has been impeccable this year as we were able to choose the best mechanics for the job, and were also able to take part in the process of fabricating these trucks since September. Additionally, by assigning Mr. Suetsugu and Mr. Sanno as chief of each trucks, respectively, we have been able to clarify the different areas of responsibility and make it easier for us to work. I am gearing myself up mentally for the meat of the race which still lies ahead of us.