Trucks arrive at Copiapo after a dramatic day in the dunes.
HINO TEAM SUGAWARA regains one-two rankings in the Under 10-liter category.
The climax of the second half of the rally still continues. On January 10, contestants traveled from Antofagasta to Copiapo in Chile. After driving southward on a 268-km link route, they faced a 508-km SS in the central area of the Atacama Desert. Not only was this a long SS, but the ups and downs were intense, with elevations ranging between 2000 m and 200 m. The stage was full of variation with four dune sections in addition to extremely dusty off-piste hill segments.
HINO TEAM SUGAWARA and their two HINO 500 Series trucks, which are entered in the Series Production Trucks category, completed this SS in solid fashion. Teruhito Sugawara and Seiichi Suzuki piloting Car 2 started 18th in line this day and improved their position to 16th at check point 2. They later improved their position to 9th at check point 4 as a result of skillfully clearing difficult sections with challenging dunes. They continued racing a solid race till the end of the SS coming in at 10th, 1st, and 1st places in the Trucks, Series Production Trucks, and Under 10-liter categories, respectively. Yoshimasa Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura who piloted Car 1 started 13th in line and maintained a cautious pace, falling back to 28th at check point 2. But at check point 5, they passed the J. Elfrink crew (Mercedes-Benz Axor) with whom they were competing for 2nd place, to regain 11th place. Finishing the SS in good form, Car 1 came in at 13th, 3rd, and 2nd places in the Trucks, Series Production Trucks, and Under 10-liter categories, respectively.
As a result, Car 2 came in at overall rankings of 11th, 2nd, and 1st places in the Trucks, Series Production Trucks, and Under 10-liter categories, respectively, and Car 1 came in at 13th, 3rd, and 2nd places in these respective categories, allowing the team to regain its one-two rankings in the Under 10-liter category.
On January 11th, contestants will compete on a 235-km loop course based out of the bivouac in Copiapo. While the course is short, there are several segments involving challenging dunes, potentially making this SS the main climax of this rally. At the bivouac, Hino mechanics were seen performing inspections and maintenance work on the two trucks until before daybreak.
Yoshimasa Sugawara: I was extra cautious with the truck today. I was aiming to get to the bivouac before dark, but we arrived shortly after sunset. Thanks to the caution we used, we were able to complete this difficult SS without encountering any problems or flat tires, and without getting stuck. It will be another challenging day tomorrow (January 11th) so we will be taking it cautiously, one step at a time.
Hiroyuki Sugiura: This was a tough day. It was difficult to navigate as there were many dunes that offered no escape, making it hard on the truck. It's no secret that I'm tired, but I'll be fully ready to go tomorrow.
Teruhito Sugawara: You could call them dunes, but they were more like mountains made of sand. Some were so steep that it was impossible for a truck to drive straight up, and there were a couple of dicey moments where we risked tipping over from the camber. But mindful driving paid off as we were able to complete the segment with no damage to the truck. The day was long and I'm exhausted, but everything went well throughout the day.
Seiichi Suzuki: It was hot during the day, and the coolant temperature topped 100C on uphill segments. But we could lower the temperature on our way down, so it didn't reach a point where we had to hold back on the gas pedal. Transmission fluid and engine oil temperatures were also relatively high, and while special countermeasures were taken this year, I am a bit concerned with our leg to Fiambala.