HINO TEAM SUGAWARA overcomes the demanding Atacama dunes in good form.
Team maintains one-two rankings in the Under 10-liter category.
On January 11, contestants started and finished at Copiapo on a 235-km loop course set in the central area of the Atacama Desert. With numerous sections with challenging dunes, this route was one of the highlights of the Dakar Rally 2011. But because no small numbers of contestants were unable to finish the January 10th segment, organizers decided to shorten this SS to 207 km, ending at the second check point, after which contestants were to take a link route back to the bivouac. The HINO 500 Series fielded by HINO TEAM SUGAWARA took full advantage of their light weight and delivered a solid race throughout the SS. Car 2 piloted by Teruhito Sugawara and Seiichi Suzuki did very well again this day, skillfully driving around steep dunes towards the beginning of the SS, to post high rankings of 11th, 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 and reclaimed their 2nd spot in the Under 10-liter class yesterday, drove mindfully so as not to overly tax their truck, finishing 15th, 3rd, and 2nd places in the Trucks, Series Production Trucks, and Under 10-liter categories, respectively.
With these results, Car 2 maintained its overall rankings of 11th, 2nd, and 1st places in the Trucks, Series Production Trucks, and Under 10-liter categories, respectively, as did Car 1 with overall rankings of 13th, 3rd, and 2nd places in these respective categories. This meant that, as a team, HINO TEAM SUGAWARA was able to maintain its one-two rankings in the Under 10-liter category.
On January 12th, the route will cross the Andes again back into Argentina. Midway through this route, which stretches from Copiapo to Chilecito, contestants will compete in a 176-km SS in the Fiambala Desert. With harsh conditions such as high temperatures, sands that create great driving resistance, and uphill climbs to high elevations, this SS is considered to be the last major trial of this rally. At the bivouac in Copiapo, five Hino mechanics gave it their all as they performed inspections and maintenance to prepare the trucks for this climactic SS.
Yoshimasa Sugawara: I cleared the first dune without problem by driving around it from the left. There were many dicey situations and that was a bit exhausting. I'm relieved that we were able to finish this segment without event. The coolant temperature rose at times, but we were able to deal with that by slowing our pace.
Hiroyuki Sugiura: Today again we came across monstrous dunes. We saw two trucks tipped over, which goes to show that there were many risky areas throughout the SS. We focused on finding the safest way of passage and were able to finish without any problems. From a navigation standpoint, I think I did pretty well today.
Teruhito Sugawara: We are doing really well. We came across many steep dunes -- actually more like mountains of sand -- that were too steep for trucks to climb. After the dunes, we traveled on camel grass, sandy pistes, and another set of dunes that we raced on two years ago. The soft sand made things quite risky.
Seiichi Suzuki: Today again, the coolant temperature hit 108єC. The transmission fluid and engine oil also got hot, although it wasn't to the extent that we had to slow our pace. We are currently able to deal with it by turning the fan on sooner. In terms of navigation, we had to rely more on CAP headings (compass bearings), but it wasn't as difficult as I thought.