Stage 8 : Car 1 finishes in 7th place overall in the SS made all the more difficult by soft sand. Car 2, which suffered a tip-over the previous day, also finishes in fine shape.
Jan 15, 2020
The second stage of the second half of the rally took contestants on a 477 km SS (timed section) situated southwest of Wadi Al-Dawasir on a loop course based out of the bivouac. Racing in an intermountain area which posed an accordingly higher level of difficulty, HINO TEAM SUGAWARA's Car 1 (HINO500 Series) crewed by Teruhito Sugawara/Hirokazu Somemiya/Yuji Mochizuki finished the SS at 7th place overall in the trucks category. And while the truck's general ranking to date remained unchanged at 10th place, the crew narrowed their time difference with the Martin Soltys crew's 9th ranking truck (Tatra Phoenix) to a mere 2 minutes and 11 seconds.
In tribute to the tragic death of bike racer Paulo Gonçalves in an accident during the SS on Jan 12, organizers cancelled the day's competition for the bikes and quad (four-wheel bikes) categories. These changes had a slight effect on navigation as the start times were moved up and there were no ruts on the course that would have otherwise been left by the leading pack of bike racers.
The SS started on a plateau at an altitude of about 1000 m, 132 km west of the Wadi Al-Dawasir bivouac. After racing over dunes that were not particularly high, the stage met contestants with a variety of terrain that alternated between sandy, high-speed off road, twisting rocky ground, and dunes as they wove through the intermountain area. While the dune sections were short, the sand was soft which meant that the racers could easily become stuck. Once across the finish line, the trucks ran another 107 km liaison to return to their bivouac.
All three of the Car 1 crew synced well with each other in this stage and finished it error-free. The truck had no tire punctures or any other problem and wedged its way into the leading group of larger trucks to finish at 7th place overall. Car 2, which was fully repaired after its tip-over the previous day, continued its journey under the "Dakar Experience" program for those who have been excluded from awards.
On Jan 14, teams will head northeast again to compete on a 415 km SS en route to Haradh on the outskirts of Riyadh. This will be the longest stage of this year's event with a total travel distance of 886 km including liaisons.
Teruhito Sugawara (Driver, Car 1)
The sand was soft and it was the most difficult dune course of this year's Dakar Rally. But our navigation was perfect and our mechanics have also done a superb job. We came up to a high-speed section at around the 50 km point where I was able to floor the gas pedal. It felt great racing at 140 km/h.
Hirokazu Somemiya (Navigator, Car 1)
The dunes were difficult, but the teamwork was great between the three of us as we all fulfilled our respective roles impeccably to finish the stage without event. I've finally come to a point where I'm now able to visualize the differences between the pictograms on the road book and the actual course.
Yuji Mochizuki (Navigator, Car 1)
Our truck is generally doing really well. When our suspension bottomed out as we were going over a large hump, we heard the sound and felt the impact of metal-on-metal contact, but we should be fine once we get our mechanics to check things out. As for our turbocharger, the exhaust temperature seems to be too high so we will try to make adjustments.
Ikuo Hanawa (Driver, Car 2)
Today again, we had no problems with the truck. I think we will be able to race much better over dunes by making some corrections to the programming on our AT. It goes to show that real-world racing is really the best test.