Race Report 2003

5th overall in the Camion class, tops among medium-size trucks


With the integration of the class divisions within the Camion class beginning with the event that year, entrance with midship engine camions was completely prohibited and front engines became mandatory. Like the previous rally, the Hino Ranger was entered in Class 1 (front engine 4x4) with no displacement segmentation; and, since Kamazes, Tatras, DAFs and other powerful vehicles all obtained homologation one after the other, it was compelled to compete in the same class as these powerhouses. The Hino Ranger with a team made up of Yoshimasa Sugawara, Seiichi Suzuki and Teruhito Sugawara entered in the competition section while the Ranger in the assistance section was driven by Bailer, a Mongolian driver. The route started in the southern French city of Marseille with a crossing to Tunisia by ferry from Valencia, Spain. It then continued on through Libya destined for Sharm-El-Sheikh located at the very southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, a long stretch extending over a period of nineteen days.

On January 1, time trials were carried out with two vehicles starting out simultaneously from the special site set up in Marseille amidst the encouraging shouts of the spectators gathered there. After completing the 3-day Europe stage, the group spent the night on the ferry, arriving in Tunisia on the following day. The rally finally started in earnest. Though the Ranger entered the Africa stage with a good flying start with the suspension set precisely, the team met with difficulties during the stage on the fifth day when the front propeller shaft dropped off. Fortunately, it was able to continue on that day with two-wheel drive and was back on safe ground once again with parts exchanged with the assistance camion waiting at the bivouac, though it was a chilling white-knuckle experience. On the 7th day, the Loprais Tatra team, a regular in the Camion class, rolled over in a gap and was forced to drop out. The Ranger, which gradually improved its standing during the Libya stage, rose to sixth place before the half-way day.

The DAF, which had been sailing along swiftly at the lead, met with an accident when it lunged over a sand dune on the first day after the rest day and was forced to drop out, improving the Ranger's standing to fifth place. The stages in the latter half of the rally constituted a technical route of continuous sand dunes and bedrock, causing distress among the participants. While developing into a tough battle, however, the leading camion teams didn't give anyone much of a chance to take advantage of them. Though the Ranger recorded the second best time in the final stage, it ultimately finished in fifth place.


1st truck: Yoshimasa Sugawara, Seiichi Suzuki, Teruhito Sugawara
Assistance car: D. Bailer (Mongolia)

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Rank Number Driver Vehicle
1 407 Tchaguine Kamaz
2 410 De Azevedo Tatra
3 412 Kabirov Kamaz
4 409 De Rooy DAF
5 400 Yoshimasa Sugawara Hino Ranger
6 443 Jacquot MAN
7 419 Bosonnet Mercedes
8 402 Pattono Unimog

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