Stage 5 : Car 1, a natural in dune stages, finishes 12th in the SS.
Jan 13, 2020
Teams have finally reached a full-fledged dunes stage. On Jan 9, contestants raced the 353 km SS (timed section) of stage 5 between Al Ula and Ha'il where they were faced with a non-stop string of dunes for roughly 200 km in the latter half. HINO TEAM SUGAWARA's Car 1 crewed by Teruhito Sugawara/Hirokazu Somemiya/Yuji Mochizuki demonstrated the Hino500 Series' excellent mobility to finish the SS 12th overall in the trucks category.
With two days to go in the first half of the rally, the day's competition was again set in the highlands in the northern part of the country. After traveling on a 80 km liaison out of Al Ula, the SS started in an intermountain area at an elevation of roughly 1000 m. The first half of the SS was similar to that of the previous day, and consisted of relatively high-speed piste (unpaved road) that wove between boulders as well as hard rocky surfaces. This was followed by dunes that started at the 155 km point right up to the finish line area. These dunes, however, were not made up of groups of dunes that crews had to traverse in succession as they searched for their lines, but were a continuity of large mounds of sand with grass outcrops and extreme ups and downs. There were also areas where the sand was soft. The technical nature and long distance of the stage made this a mentally demanding one for the crew.
The moderately compact size of the Hino500 Series means that they naturally perform well on dune stages, and Car 1 delivered stunning performance again this day. Sustaining no tire punctures, the truck finished the SS at 12th place and climbed to 12th place in accumulated overall position as well.
After the SS finish line, contestants drove on a 132 km liaison to reach the Ha'il bivouac where their assistance crews waited. On Jan 10, the last day of the first half of the rally, teams will race a 477 km stage stretching from Ha'il to Riyadh, the country's capital city.
* Car 2, which had a problem in the stage 2 SS, did not start stage 3 and underwent repairs instead. The truck resumed its journey on the course in stage 4 under the organizer's "Dakar Experience" program for those who have been excluded from awards.
Teruhito Sugawara (Driver, Car 1)
We've finally reached the dunes but they were not that difficult. I was able to assess the trucks condition on the dunes so I am looking forward to the remainder of the race. We'll be doing our best tomorrow as we're in a good position going into the second half.
Hirokazu Somemiya (Navigator, Car 1)
I enjoyed my first experience on full-scale dunes. The descent from the dunes was steep and it was eye-opening to see the ground right in front of us when we reached the bottom. We got all of our way points (points that contestants must pass in addition to checkpoints) so I think I was able to fulfill my basic navigation responsibilities.
Yuji Mochizuki (Navigator, Car 1)
We had to go over many dunes in this stage, and our average speed was about 80 km/h and about 60 km/h over the dunes. We had no problems with our truck―no punctured tires or errors―so we aim to drive error-free again tomorrow without breaking the truck.
Ikuo Hanawa (Driver, Car 2 )
We had a lot of fun driving today, trying out a variety of development tests such as crossing the dunes in the AT's manual mode. We also got up-close looks at how our rival trucks performed so it was a great learning experience.
Yudai Hanawa (Navigator, Car 2 )
Navigation was a breeze today and we had no problems. It's disappointing that had to withdraw from the competition but we intend to finish all of the SSs to build up our experience.
Mayumi Kezuka (Navigator, Car 2)
Since I'm seated in the center seat in a bonnet-type cab, it was hard to see what was ahead of us the moment we were crossing the dune ridges, and that was scary at first because sometimes it felt like we were falling straight down.