Hino Motors Finishes Dakar Rally 2017 at 8th Position Overall, Their First Finish in the Top 10 in Five Years.
―Team Also Makes its 8th Straight Victory in the Under 10-litre Class and Ups Its Own Record to 26th Finishes in the Rally―
Hino Motors, Ltd. (Hino) raced in the trucks category of Dakar Rally 2017, which was hosted in Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina from Jan. 2 through Jan. 14 (local time), making its first top 10 finish in five years since 2012. The team also won its 8th straight championship in the Under 10-litre Class, and upped its own record to 26 finishes since first entering the rally [*1].
After the original Paris-Dakar Rally―starting in Paris and finishing in Dakar―was called off due to political instability in 2008, organizers relocated the event to South America in 2009 and renamed it Dakar Rally. Since then, the rally has been gradually transforming from an exploration-oriented one on the roadless roads of Africa into a high-speed rally where contestants vie for speed over rough terrain.
As Hino's rivals, most of whom were based out of Europe, pushed forward by increasing the power of their trucks that ran on engines with displacements of over 10 litres, and drew on their material might sending in larger contingents of staff and supplies, Hino has been steadfastly committed to racing the rally on its "HINO500 Series" trucks with engines smaller than 10 litres. This commitment was based on the team's motto "Softness overcomes hardness [*2]" and the handpicked team of the best and brightest has been working to strengthen their teamwork through the spirit of "valuing harmony." For the past few years, the team has been carefully studying the work of its rivals, and making thorough tunings to its racing trucks based on the uniquely Japanese version of "production craftsmanship." The team also sent all of its members on a month-long training camp to further strengthen the team's overall capabilities.
As a result, driver Teruhito Sugawara (44 years of age) finished this year's rally in 8th overall among the 50 entrants in the trucks category, making this the team's first top 10 finish in five years since its 9th place finish in 2012. He also won his 8th straight championship in the Under 10-litre Class. Driver Yoshimasa Sugawara (75 years of age) finished 29th overall and 2nd in the Under 10-litre Class, giving the father and son duo their fourth straight 1-2 victory in the class since 2014.
By continuing to take part in the world's top level race, Hino aims to share the excitement of racing with customers and motor sport 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 around the world.
*1: This was Hino's 26th finish in the race since 1991, not including 2008 when the race was canceled due to political instability.
*2: "Ju yoku go wo seisu" is a phrase that is often used in jujitsu and other martial arts which explains how the soft and flexible will overcome the powerful and hard, and by extension how the feeble will overcome the strong.
HINO TEAM SUGAWARA is cheered on by enthusiastic supporters who arrived from all over South America to share the excitement at the finish line.
Teruhito Sugawara's HINO500 Series truck makes its first top 10 finish in the overall trucks category in five years.
Masakazu Ichikawa (Chairman of the Board, Hino Motors): We have been supporting the team all the while, and Mr. Teruhito's single-digit finish in the category was truly admirable. Mr. Yoshimasa did very well too. I am very happy of these results.
Yoshimasa Sugawara (Team director and driver of Car 1): I'm very happy with Teruhito's finish in 8th place overall. We raced as we had planned and were able to win with a 1-2 finish. I am still full of energy. Thank you very much for your support.
Mitsugu Takahashi (Navigator of Car 1): The rally seemed zip by in a blink of an eye, and I'm happy to have finished in good shape. The last SS didn't require any navigation, but in terms of the rally overall, there were many areas where navigation was quite difficult so it was tough.
Teruhito Sugawara (Driver of Car 2): I'm glad that we were able to finish in 8th position overall. Besides the fact that our trucks have been vastly upgraded, I think the fact that there were many canceled stages and navigation was difficult this year worked to our advantage. That said, this outcome was not a fluke but the result of our hard work. We are looking to upgrading our trucks even more for the next rally. Thank you very much.
Hiroyuki Sugiura (Navigator of Car 2): The SS today was set on agricultural roads with right angle turns appearing one after the other. Some sections had turned into muddy swamps and were quite risky as we had trouble bringing the truck to a full stop. In any case, I'm glad that we were able to finish the rally without any problems. This was the first single-digit finish for me so I'm very happy with these results.
Seiichi Suzuki (Mechanic leader): I'm glad that we were able to finish without any major problems. I am happy about Car 2's 8th place finish, but I'm certainly not satisfied. We can do much more.
Masaki Nakamura (Mechanic sub-leader): I'm relieved that the rally is over. It's great that we were able to achieve the single-digit finish that we were all aiming for. I'd like to give the mechanics a pat on the back for putting in such great work under harsh conditions such as high altitudes, the cold and heat.
Hiroyuki Azuma (Mechanic): I'm glad that both trucks were able to finish without anybody getting injured or sick. That was a big thing for me. And I'm ecstatic about these great results.
Koji Nakamura (Mechanic): Time just zipped by and it was over even before I knew it. The toughest thing for me was the little amount of sleep we got. That said, I'm glad that we didn't have any major problems. I am very happy with these amazing results.
Junya Inoue (Mechanic): Two weeks just flew by. And I'm happy that the truck I was in charge of finished with great results.
Kenji Kunimoto (Mechanic): While we didn't encounter as many problems as we did in our test run in the Silk Way Rally, but to be honest, things were much more hectic with two trucks. I think we did pretty well in terms of servicing work. It has been a great experience.
Kohei Shimazaki (Support member): Driving the assistance car this year, it really hit me how you can't win against nature, what with the intense rain and cold. I hope I get to come again if the opportunity arises.
Koji Tanaka (Support member): It was tough everywhere we went―the highlands, the heat, and this last bivouac. But finishing the competition with great results has a way of melting all that fatigue away. I'm relieved that it's over.
Ryu Takashima (Support member): I played a support role and this was the first time I joined team. I had a great time, including the times that I would shout words of support when the going got tough. I hope to be able to speak the language better the next time I come.
Please visit our official website where you will find detailed daily coverage of the rally.