Race Report 2004
Hino Ranger Pro in 5th place win in overall standings in the Camion category!
2004 - TELEFONICA DAKAR
The Hino Ranger Pro with a full model change was entered in the event this time by the TEAM SUGAWARA through the supply of vehicles and dispatch of three mechanics by Hino Motors. Though a private challenge by TEAM SUGAWARA as before, the organizaion, which faces off against powerful camion teams, was reinforced. There has been a notable increase in the number of participants in Dakar Rally over the past few years and 400 competing vehicles and 195 assistance cars gathered in the city of Clermont-Ferrand in central France, the starting point of the rally. In the Camion category, besides works entries consisting of three Kamazes, two Tatras and two DAFs, private DAFs were also entered, unfolding as an eager battle of 63 vehicles. The route was staged through mid-western Africa, which has now become a totally familiar course in the Dakar Rally, with a total distance of 10,411km aiming for the destination Dakar, Senegal, over a period of eighteen days.
In the midst of a heavy snowstorm on January 1, the Hino Ranger Pro started out leading the way at the top of the Camion category. The 3-day stage through Europe was completed without incident and, on the 4th day, the team arrived in Africa at Tangiers. On the first day of the Africa stage, though with a somewhat slow start in 18th place, they moved ahead while avoiding risk due to the many tree groves but managed to improve their position to 7th place during the long stage on the fifth day. Though the Ranger Pro later produced considerably faster times over a number of days than the older model vehicles, the distance from the lead pack of 800-horsepower DAFs and Kamazes, which had succeeded in a 2-ton weight reduction, gradually lengthened. After reaching the goal on the 9th-day stage, considered to be the highlight of the event that year, in 7th place, stage 2 until the rest day was cancelled due to a security problem.
The tough route continued on during the latter half and, though many of the vehicles dropped out, the top of the Camion group continued as before to push on with the battle at a higher dimension. Never to be outdone, the Ranger also recorded a series of excellent times and managed to improve its position. Then, on the 15th day, considered to be the final tough barrier, it outperformed two Tatras and emerged in 5th place. Enduring the charge mounted by the Tatras, it crossed the goal in 5th place as it made inroads among the large-displacement monster camions on the Dakar coast.
1st truck: Yoshimasa Sugawara, Seiichi Suzuki, Teruhito Sugawara
Mechanic: Yoshiyuki Monma (Hino Motors)
Mechanic: Kenichiro Tanaka (Miyagi Hino)
Mechanic: Hiroshi Hashiba (Ishikawa Hino)
Assistance camion: D. Bailer (Mongolia)
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