Hino Team Sugawara Holds Dakar Rally 2015 Entry Announcement Event
"Letting the world know Hino of Japan is a force to be reckoned with"
On October 16, HINO TEAM SUGAWARA held a Dakar Rally 2015 entry announcement event at Hino Motors headquarters. Teruhito Sugawara, driver of Car 2, passionately declared, "In our next race, it goes without saying that we will be aiming for our sixth straight championship in the Under 10-litre Class. But in addition, we will also be aiming to finish with high rankings in the overall Trucks category to let the world know Hino of Japan is a force to be reckoned with."
The venue was packed with a large number of press representatives, who were aware that this was going to be a precious opportunity―in fact, the first and last opportunity―to catch a glimpse of the trucks while they were still in Japan, as Dakar Rally trucks are shipped to South America immediately after they are completed. At the opening, Yasuhiko Ichihashi, president of Hino Motors, spoke about the significance of Hino's ongoing commitment as a maker of commercial vehicles to race in the Dakar Rally, known as the "most grueling rally in the world." Up next on the podium was Teruhito Sugawara, driver of Car 2. He described the characteristics of the 2015 rally course and the upgrades that have been made to the team's trucks. This was followed by speeches from new team member Yoko Wakabayashi on behalf of the team's navigators, and from Takashi Masuda from Hiroshima Hino Motor on behalf of the mechanics. In closing, Yoshimasa Sugawara, team director and driver of Car 1―known as the "Iron Man of Dakar" with a record of 32 consecutive entries in the Dakar Rally―expressed his commitment to the upcoming race.
Yasuhiko Ichihashi, President of Hino Motors
"We will continue to sharpen our production and servicing technologies in this grueling rally."
"The 2015 rally marks the 25th anniversary of Hino's first entry in the Dakar Rally in 1991, when we became the first Japanese truck maker to compete in this rally. Our trucks and buses form the foundation of societies around the world as they transport people and cargo to their destinations. In order to fulfill this role, we must not only produce vehicles with excellent QDR―or Quality, Durability, and Reliability―but just as crucially, we must provide services that ensure our customers incur as little downtime as possible. Our participation in the Dakar Rally helps us sharpen our production and servicing technologies so we can continue to fulfill this role. With the addition of a female team member, Ms. Wakabayashi, we hope that women and young people around the world who see her contributions to the team's efforts will be attracted to and become proud of working in truck-related occupations. In fact, I have decided to join the team at the goal in Argentina next January for the first time myself. I very much look forward to praising the team members for finishing the world's most grueling rally and sharing in the excitement."
Teruhito Sugawara, Driver of Car 2
"I would like to let people know Hino of Japan is a force to be reckoned with."
"The course for this upcoming race will be a loop that starts and finishes in Buenos Aires―just as it did in 2009, the first year the Dakar Rally relocated from Africa to South America. What this type of course setting means is that we will be traversing the Andes Mountains twice. This makes it an extreme challenge for both the vehicles and the team, and competing in extremely high-altitude areas ―some as high as 4,700 meters―is what sets these races apart from the previous races in Africa. Then there's the Atacama Desert, which runs along the west of the mountains:―an area that has not received rain for centuries, and is considered to be the driest area on the planet. There we will be forced to take on huge dunes that climb from sea level to 1600 meters. In terms of truck upgrades, I have three points to share with you today. The first is that Car 2, which I will be driving, has been refabricated from the ground up as a completely new vehicle. It has a narrow cab as part of our weight-reduction efforts, and its steering wheel has been moved to the left side to bring it in line with local conditions. The second point is that this year Car 2 will also be powered by the A09C engine, which has a displacement that's 1 liter greater than that of the previous J08C engine, and was tested on Car 1 in the previous Dakar Rally. Also, with upgrades to the intake and exhaust systems, and tune-ups that enable the engine to more readily receive air, we have been able to increase engine horsepower to 630hp, up from the 485hp produced by the J08C engine. The third point I would like to describe is the upgrades we have made to our suspensions. Until recently, we have intentionally been using multi-leaf suspensions, an older suspension design, to be able to handle the rough off-road terrain we find on the "roadless roads" of the Dakar Rally. With recent improvements in shock absorber performance, we're now able to attach coil springs to shock absorbers and reduce the number of leaves in the leaf springs to create what is called a "taper leaf" suspension, which is a more modern technology. In a nutshell, this is about leveraging the strengths of both coil springs and leaf springs to provide stability over all types of road surfaces. Since making changes to suspension designs entails a significant amount of risk, we were expecting this process to take two to three years. But contrary to our expectations, results from our test run in this year's Rally Mongolia came out almost perfectly. The fact that we've been able to develop this suspension in concert with the Hino Motors development team in such a short time―a little less than a year―has given us great confidence in terms of what we're capable of as a team. Our trucks have been improving every year, and the upgrades we've made to our engines, and in particular to our suspensions, have been quite dramatic. These upgrades have resulted in trucks that are so quick we can't even begin to compare them with our previous vehicles. In the upcoming race, we will of course be aiming to win our sixth championship in the Under 10-litre Class, but also to finish with high rankings in the overall Trucks category to showcase the degree to which we have evolved, and to let the world and all rally fans know Hino of Japan is a force to be reckoned with."
Yoko Wakabayashi, Navigator on Car 1
"I will do my best to become a mood-maker in the most positive sense of the word."
I was given the opportunity to become a member of this team as a navigator on Car 1. Since my addition to the team has been for the purpose of enhancing its performance, I intend to fulfill my role with a conscious awareness that everything I do is for the driver, and to work to improve our time if only by a minute. The president of my company often tells me that everyone feels at ease when I smile, so I do think that, as a woman, I might also be able to bring a different atmosphere to my working environment. I hope to be all smiles throughout the race. When things get really tough, I intend to remain aware enough that I'm not overwhelmed, and help create a better mood for the team. I thank you in advance for your support."
Takashi Masuda, Mechanic
"I will be giving everything I have to service the trucks in order to give back to my family and colleagues."
"For Hino mechanics such as myself, joining the Dakar Rally team is a dream and an aspiration, so I was very happy to have been chosen this year. To date, there have been more than 30 mechanics from various dealers who've taken part in this international rally, and there have been four so far from my own Hiroshima Hino. Ever since I joined the company, I've been working with a burning desire to join the Dakar Rally team just as my predecessors have. We're currently carrying out preparations leading up to the race, and I've come to a renewed appreciation of the tradition that has been built up by my predecessors—as well as the pressure they all must have been under. In Dakar Rally 2015, I will be giving everything I have to service the trucks and ensure that both of our HINO500 Series vehicles not only finish, but make it into high rankings in the overall Trucks category—and also to preserve the superior skills that our predecessors from Hino have established, and to give back to my family and colleagues at work, who've given me their full support. I would like to thank everyone in advance for their continued support."
Yoshimasa Sugawara, Team Director and Driver of Car 1 "My intention is that we, under the Hino umbrella, will come together as a 'single arrow' to take on this challenge."
"This upcoming race will mark the 25th anniversary of Hino Motors' first start in the Dakar Rally. When we began in 1991, the organizer said, 'We expect Japanese manufacturers to quit in two to three years once they've gotten advertisement value out of the rally.' To this I responded, 'Not Hino. Hino is a company that will continue to take on challenges.' The upcoming race will be the 33rd race for me personally, so I intend to hold in my heart the passion of all those who have supported me over these many years. As for the newly completed trucks, Car 2—driven by my son, Teruhito—has a narrow cab, and the truck that I will be driving, Car 1, is fitted with a wide cab to accommodate a three-person crew. With the dad's truck being rather imposing and the son's being a bit smaller, I think things have finally been put in their proper place. [Laughter] This year, the mechanics have been with us right from the beginning of the truck fabrication process. I don't think any other team of mechanics knows these trucks to the degree they do, so you can expect them to accomplish great things. We also operate a large three-axle ZS (HINO700 Series) truck, which will accompany us with a power generator, compressor and spare parts. At night, this truck becomes the team's workshop, where the mechanics work under the lights until the wee hours. We also operate two Hi Lux vehicles that the mechanics travel on, and we have drivers for these supporting vehicles as well. As a team, a total of 18 people, including various staff members, will be traveling to South America. And while each person has a specific role to play, my intention is that we, under the Hino umbrella, will come together as a 'single arrow' to defeat our opponents. Our team consists of trucks made in Japan, with Japanese drivers and staff members, making this the only all-domestic-made team in the Dakar Rally. So I would like to hold my head up high as a Japanese citizen as we go into this race. Our intention is to work hard and let the other teams know what we are capable of. I would like to thank you in advance for your support."
That night, a send-off party for Hino Team Sugawara was held with the participation of representatives from sponsors and employees at Hino group companies. A brass band composed of Hino Motors employee volunteers further boosted the warm and supportive atmosphere. Ichiro Hisada, managing executive officer of Hino Motors, closed the event with these remarks: "I would like all of us here to come together to support Hino Team Sugawara. Please give us your loudest voice to send them off!" The crowd's cries of, "Ei-ei-oh!" thundered throughout the venue. Then, when the brass band began playing, a spontaneous round of applause erupted, ringing into the night sky as the first stars began to shine.