After a few days of steady rain that turned the rally course into mudslides, thin air that began affecting contestants, and the physical and logistical demands of the world’s toughest race, Hino Team Sugawara had a day of rest with the cancellation of Stage 6 due to the weather.
Although not really a proper day of respite as mechanic teams arrived early to begin inspections and servicing that focused on pre-scheduled replacements of parts. By midnight, the team's two HINO500 Series trucks were fully refreshed and ready to race the second half as organizers announced that they would be significantly shortening the January 9 SS, due to the effects of rain near Uyuni. This leg of the rally is expected to seriously test contestants with tough challenges including a marathon stage on the first day where they will not be accompanied by their assistance squads, fesh-fesh and extreme heat near Fiambala, and dunes in the Andes foothills.
So far, Hino Team Sugawara's Car 2 crewed by Teruhito Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura stands at 12th place in the overall trucks category, and Car 2 piloted by Yoshimasa Sugawara and Mitsugu Takahashi stands at 32nd place overall. Car 2 and Car 1 currently stand at first and second place, respectively, in the Under 10-litre Class.
As impressive as these results are, Car 2 Driver, Teruhito Sugawara warned, “Racing the trucks category in the Dakar Rally has become quite the challenge in that you will fall back in standings unless you race at full potential in all of the stages, We will be facing a string of challenging stages in the second half so we intend to take it one day at a time.”
The team's eyes are now on achieving their eighth consecutive class win as well as on how high in rankings Car 2 will be able to advance in the overall category.