Race Report 2002
Achievement of 3rd overall and 7 straight class victories in competition against a lineup of works teams!
2002 - ARRAS-MADRID-DAKAR
Since air mechanics were eliminated and more than 100 assistance cars and camions participated, a total force of 425 vehicles gathered at the northern French city of Arras, the starting point of the rally. The podium was set up in the Place des Heros on the old streets of Arras, reminiscent of the Middle Ages, and more than 10,000 spectators gathered unperturbed by the chilly weather nearly at the freezing point, giving the site an exciting festive air. This was the 20th entry in the Dakar Rally for the TEAM SUGAWARA, continuing as a private outfit. Yoshimasa Sugawara served as driver of the Hino Ranger while Teruhito, his second son, was at the wheel of the Hino Ranger as driver in the assistance segment.
On December 28, in the midst of an unfortunate light rain, the Ranger, starting as the lead Camion, completed the long 4-day Europe stage without incident, reaching the African continent before dawn on January 1. The first day of the Africa stage was a short stage and, after deviating somewhat from the course, it fell to 20th in the overall standings. Later, however, it gradually moved up in the ranking after setting a series of good times. In the long stage before the rest day, it produced the second best time, finishing first-half competition in 4th place overall. Even so, the MAN driven by former Hino team member J.P. Reif demonstrated formidable speed, pushing the Ranger back to fifth place by a narrow margin.
Starting off in the latter half of the event consisting primarily of the sand dune area of Mauritania, there was a succession of long severe stages, causing problems for all of the teams that ultimately ended in dropouts. The Ranger gradually widened the gap between itself and the Reif team, which was pressed back, and charged on ahead toward the three trucks leading the way. On the 13th day, it finally improved its position to third place in an endurance stage of more than 300km of terrain covered with camel grass, reaching the goal in Dakar. The seven straight class victories for the Ranger was a prodigious feat never before achieved.
1st truck: Yoshimasa Sugawara, Seiichi Suzuki, Naoko Matsumoto
Assistance camion: Teruhito Sugawara
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