On January 19th, Dakar Rally 2018 contestants raced a two-segment SS for a total timed distance of 368 km between San Juan and Córdoba. The rally has now moved on to Córdoba where the final finish line is to be set up. The Hino 500 Series Car 2 entered by Hino Team Sugawara in the trucks category, and piloted by Teruhito Sugawara and Mitsugu Takahashi, finished the SS 6th overall for an accumulated overall position at 5th place (results are provisional).
Teruhito Sugawara said, ‘It was a long day today. It got dark only about an hour into the second segment and that was quite draining. There seemed to be a lot of new courses this year although the areas that they were set in were the same from previous events. Some trucks in the leading group were stuck, so our accumulated position may change depending on how quickly they were able to pull themselves out. Tomorrow is the last day of the rally and I will give it my best.’
The route for this day saw contestants start out of the bivouac on a 79 km liaison to an intermountain area to the east of San Juan where the starting line of the first segment of the SS was set up. The road surface of this segment mainly consisted of sand and pistes with some off-road sections towards the end. They then traveled on a 382 km neutral zone before racing the second 244 km half of the SS where the road surface changed to fesh-fesh (sediments of fine, powdery-soft soil) and gravel. Once across the finish line, racers took a 98 km liaison to Córdoba, making this a long stage for a total driving distance of 928 kilometers.
Mitsugu Takahashi said, ‘Things weren't that difficult in terms of navigation, but the pistes were very thin and difficult to make out in some areas. In any case, this was a long and tiring stage. One more day to go.’
The crew of the Hino 500 Series truck continued to race at a brisk pace but suffered a flat in the front-left tire towards the end of the first SS segment. While they decided to keep going and change the tire once they were across the finish line, they met their mechanics who had been standing by in the neutral zone on their assistance car and were able to replace the tire quickly with their help. While the Car 2 crew continued to maintain their good pace, overtaking rival trucks that had become stuck, they were forced to slow down shortly into the second segment as the sun had come down. Still, they were able to finish the SS at 6th overall. With this result, they now climb to 5th place in overall accumulated rankings (provisional). As a matter of course, they continue to maintain their top position in the Under 10-litre Class.
Tomorrow, on January 20th racers will be competing on a 119 km looped SS based out of Córdoba. Later in the day, they will be taking part in a goal ceremony, which will mark the conclusion of this two-week event. With only one more day to go in the Dakar Rally which the team had prepared for over the past year team mechanics made sure to thoroughly inspect and service their truck for the last time.