Stage 9 : Car 1 finishes the rugged, perseverance-testing SS at 16th place overall. Team decides to retire Car 2 due to safety concerns.
Jan 16, 2020
The stage for Jan 14 took teams from Wadi Al-Dawasir to Haradh. HINO TEAM SUGAWARA's Car 1 (HINO500 Series) crewed by Teruhito Sugawara/Hirokazu Somemiya/Yuji Mochizuki finished the SS at 16th place overall in the trucks category. Meanwhile, a crack was found on the roll bar of Car 2 (based on the HINO600 Series for the North American market) piloted by the Ikuo Hanawa/Yudai Hanawa/Mayumi Kezuka crew and, upon its arrival at Haradh, the team made the decision to retire the truck from the event for safety reasons. The truck had been driving under the "Dakar Experience" program for those excluded from awards.
At a total travel distance of 891 km, this was the longest stage of this year's event. After a 376 km liaison from Wadi Al-Dawasir, which also doubled as the assistance route, the course branched off into the mountain area where the start line for the two-part SS was set. The first 155 km section of the SS was reminiscent of the Morocco Rally with its hard and rough road surfaces, and rocky terrain. The second half was set at the end of an hour drive on a 31 km neutral zone, and featured wide open sandy plateaus and other road surfaces where racers could drive at relatively high speeds. Dunes also appeared for a short distance towards the end of the SS. After the SS finish, contestants merged again with the assistance route, and then took a 99 km liaison to the bivouac in Haradh near the airport.
The Car 1 crew decided to drive with caution on this stage that met them with intense dust and rough roads where any careless maneuver could cause damage to their truck. While this resulted in their time difference with Martin Soltys' Tatra truck in 9th place widening to 13 minutes and 48 seconds, their 10th place position in general rankings remained unchanged.
On Jan 15, contestants will finally be racing on the round-trip marathon stage between Haradh and Shubaytah which is expected to be the greatest highlight of this year's event. Highly challenging dunes await racers in the area around Shubaytah near the UAE border. Since assistance squads will not be present at the stage's bivouac, contestants must complete the two-day run with only the spare tires and parts that they carry on board. The team is determined to exercise extra caution throughout this difficult stage to bring their truck to the finish line and aim for a higher ranking, if only by one position.
Teruhito Sugawara (Driver, Car 1)
We decided to drive cautiously today as we risked damaging the truck by driving fast on the hard surfaces, and also because the dust was so intense. The marathon stage starting tomorrow will be the deciding contest for us. We don't know how much sand there will be, but we will give it our best.
Hirokazu Somemiya (Navigator, Car 1)
We drove for a long distance today but navigation wasn't as difficult as I thought. It gets more difficult to earn greater time differences at this point, so I'm seeing the repercussions of the errors that we made in the first two days.
Yuji Mochizuki (Navigator, Car 1)
We have to thank our mechanics who will be working hard tonight on re-adjusting the turbo wastegate and replacing the rear leaf springs among other tasks so that we can face the marathon stage tomorrow in top shape. It's a shame that Car 2 had to withdraw, but that was an inevitable decision given the safety concerns.
Ikuo Hanawa (Driver, Car 2)
Trial-and-error and problems come with the territory when developing a new rally racer. There are so many things we can miss unless we race it in the real world. What bugs me to no end is that we've had to retire just when I was starting to enjoy dune racing. I would definitely like to race this rally again if I get the chance.
Yudai Hanawa (Navigator, Car 2)
Although this was my first Dakar Rally and my first experience on this truck, I am disappointed that we had to withdraw. On a positive note, I really enjoyed driving through a much richer variety of roads than in other races.
Mayumi Kezuka (Navigator, Car 2)
I was just getting pumped up as we were about to head out to the crucial marathon stage, so I was very disappointed that we had to retire. This is a great truck and it drives well, but I think we need to make sure we build it right. We identified many issues so that was a gain.
My first stint in the Dakar Rally as a navigator ended all too soon, but it has been a great experience. I will continue to work hard so that I can build on this experience of withdrawing in the next race.