Dakar Rally 2016: Hino Motors Wins 7th Straight Championship in the Under 10-litre Class of the Trucks Category
—Hino also celebrates its 25th consecutive finish since its first entry—
Hino Motors, Ltd. (Hino) won its seventh consecutive championship in the Under 10-litre Class in the Trucks category, and also achieved its 25th*1 consecutive finish. The rally held in Argentina and Bolivia from January 2 through January 16 (local time).
In 1991, Hino became the first Japanese truck manufacturer to enter the Dakar Rally. In 1997, the company entered three trucks and made Dakar Rally history with a 1-2-3 sweep in the overall trucks category. Also, as at the end of the 2015 event, Hino had won fifteen of the sixteen*2 Under 10-litre Class championships since the class was set up in 1996, and to this day continues to be recognized as a true poerhouse in the Trucks category.
This year again, Hino has teamed up with Team Sugawara―led by drivers Yoshimasa Sugawara, who holds a record 33 consecutive entries in this rally, and his son Teruhito Sugawara―to form HINO TEAM SUGAWARA and enter the rally with two HINO500 Series trucks. To stay abreast of this race which has been increasingly becoming high-speed oriented over the years, the team based its trucks on those that it fielded in the 2015 race, enhancing them with suspension and engine upgrades, as well as shaving some 300kg of their weight. Additionally, as part of the support crew, the team drafted four of Hino’s best and brightest mechanics who were chosen from among Hino dealerships throughout Japan.
As a result, Teruhito Sugawara was able to clock as high as the fourth best time at a checkpoint in stage 10 on January 13, racing neck and neck with leaders in the overall Trucks category―which was populated with 55 trucks most of which were powered by engines with almost twice the displacement of that of the Hino trucks. Based on this performance, Teruhito was able to improve his overall ranking to 13th this year from last year’s 16th, and has won the team’s seventh straight championship in the Under 10-litre Class. With Yoshimasa Sugawara finishing at 31st overall and 2nd in the Under 10-litre Class, the father and son team enjoyed a one-two finish in their class just as they did last year.
By taking part in the world’s top level race, Hino aims to share the excitement of racing with customers and motor fans around the world, and build on the spirit of challenge and technological capabilities honed through this experience to deliver products and services that benefit our customers.
*1 This was the company’s 25th finish in race since 1991, except for 2008 when the race was canceled due to political instability.
*2 The Under 10-litre Class was not set up in the 2003, 2004, and 2006 events.
A group photo of members of HINO TEAM SUGAWARA, and staff and associates of Hino Argentina by the goal podium.
Teruhito Sugawara drives his HINO500 Series truck to his seventh straight win in the Under 10-litre Class.
Masakazu Ichikawa, Chairman, Hino Motors: I’d like to acknowledge the team for delivering a solid performance this year again. I get the feeling that Mr. Teruhito can climb even higher, but in any case, I’m very grateful to the entire team and for all the support that we’ve received. Twenty-five years of racing in the Dakar is quite a long history when you think about it, and I’m amazed at how Mr. Sugawara and his team have come together to achieve these results.
Yoshimasa Sugawara (Team director and driver of Car 1): I’m happy to have finished in what ended up being a very challenging rally this year, and I’m also very happy to see so many people cheering us on at the goal. One of the memorable things for me this year was that, for the first time in a long while, we got bogged down and stuck. I’ll continue to race on. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported us.
Mitsugu Takahashi (Navigator of Car 1): The road was deeply rutted at the 110km point in today’s SS, keeping us from getting through. There was a line of vehicles that couldn’t move forward and we lost about an hour and 20 minutes. Fortunately, we managed to finish the special thanks to locals who guided us to an alternate route. This was the first Dakar for me and the fact that it’s all over hasn’t sunk in yet. I feel like we’re going to be racing again tomorrow.
Teruhito Sugawara (Driver of Car 2): This was the 25th anniversary of Hino Motors’ first entry in the Dakar Rally, so I took that to heart as we raced. The truck upgrades that we made have had a definite impact and I feel that we’ve got our rivals by their tails now. We know what we need to do next, so I think this was a great race also in terms of development going forward.
Hiroyuki Sugiura (Navigator of Car 2): The course today was made up of twisty piste in the mountains, with almost no high-speed segments. There were areas that were slippery from the rain, and we did have one spin out. We wanted to finish in the top ten this year but regrettably we were a few positions short. That said, we’ve proven that we’re capable of fighting close battles with the top contenders so we have a lot to look forward to.
Seiichi Suzuki (Mechanic leader): Our times in the specials are generally getting better, and this was confirmation of the trucks’ improved performance. Repairs for some minor weld cracks were about the only repairs that we needed to do on our suspensions and supporting members, so I’m happy about that.
Masaki Tagoku (Mechanic): Time just flew by and I had a lot of fun. It was tough when things got so hectic that we didn’t even have time to sleep, but I’m very happy that I was able to work with this group of people. I’m very grateful that we were able to bring both HINO500 Series trucks to the finish line.
Masato Kondo (Mechanic): What I learned is that anything can happen in Dakar. It was critical for us to deal with them one by one as they arose. In the past, I had been servicing trucks for myself. In the Dakar Rally, I experienced servicing the vehicle for the driver, and I think that has helped me grow in many ways.
Nozomi Tonoike (Mechanic): A lot of things are going through my mind as I see the goal podium today and realize that it is all over. It was tough but it was well worth it. I really wanted to experience the Dakar Rally first-hand, so I’m very grateful for having been given this opportunity.
Hideyuki Sakaguchi (Mechanic): It was a long two weeks, but it also feels like it just went by in a blink of an eye. Things got really tough at times, but we worked together as a team to overcome any problems. Seeing the goal podium today, I’m just left speechless.
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