Stage 10 : Organizers shorten SS distance due to strong winds. Car 1 finishes the first day of the marathon stage at 14th place.
Jan 16, 2020
Dakar Rally 2020 is finally in the final stages. The round-trip stage between Haradh and Shubaytah in the southeastern region of Saudi Arabia on the 15th and 16th was a marathon stage, literally the final highlight of the event, where crews would not have access to their assistance squads. While the SS (timed section) for the day was cut short due to bad weather, HINO TEAM SUGAWARA's Car 1 (HINO500 Series) crewed by Teruhito Sugawara/Hirokazu Somemiya/Yuji Mochizuki finished the SS at 14th place overall. Martin Soltys' Tatra truck―9th place in general rankings, one position higher than the Hino truck―raced at a faster clip and widened their time difference by 1 minute and 48 seconds. Nevertheless, the Hino crew's 10th place position in general rankings remained unchanged.
The stage on the 15th took contestants from Haradh to Shubaytah. Organizers decided that they could not ensure the safety of competitors due to strong winds and cut the 534 km SS (timed section) short to 345 km with its finish line at the end of the neutral zone on a paved section. From there, racers took a 137 km liaison to Shubaytah. The actual distance of the SS was 223 km as it ended where the neutral zone began. This was about half of the planned distance and ended without going through the highly difficult dune areas near Shubaytah.
The Car 1 crew maintained their cool as they raced the early part of the SS which featured sections with a succession of dune ridges set on a plateau. This was followed by a sandy off road plateau with sections where the risk of making course navigation errors was high, but the Car 1 crew raced these sections in stride.
Competition on the return leg to Haradh on the 16th will be held on a 365 km SS, its key feature being the high and steep dunes in the area around Shubaytah. This will literally be the last major obstacle of the rally as teams take on this SS without the benefit of having their trucks serviced the previous night. Set in the middle of the desert, the bivouac in Shubaytah was surrounded by dunes. Partly because the SS had been cut short, Car 1 arrived at the bivouac trouble-free and without any tire punctures, and its three crew members inspected their truck thoroughly and prepared for the next day.
Teruhito Sugawara (Driver, Car 1)
I suppose you could call those dunes but it was like driving over ridges of sand hills up on plateaus. We would quickly decelerate on our descent from the ridges and floor the gas pedal to accelerate once we were at the bottom, but we would be left behind by our larger rivals during acceleration. I'm looking forward to tomorrow as we should be racing over the high dunes around the bivouac.
Hirokazu Somemiya (Navigator, Car 1)
Navigation over the dunes basically boils down to following the cups (directions) so I will be double checking these to make sure I can help Mr. Teruhito drive well.
Yuji Mochizuki (Navigator, Car 1)
We were able to race comfortably today as the turbocharger that our mechanics adjusted last night was doing great and it didn't look like we were having any exhaust leaks. There is no problem with the truck.