The Hino Team Sugawara is determined to achieve success in the form of a sixth successive class win (engines under 10 litres capacity) and a high overall placing in the 2015 Dakar Rally in South America. The reason is that next year’s event will mark the 25th anniversary of Hino’s first appearance in the Dakar Rally, then staged in Africa, in 1991.
Hino Motors is teaming up with Hino Team Sugawara in entering two four-wheel drive Hino 500-series trucks in the gruelling annual event. The team’s main objective is to extend its amazing run of reliability that has seen Hino finish all 23 Dakar Rallies it has started; there was no event in 2008 due to terrorist threats in North Africa.
This year’s event, which starts on January 3 and finishes 14 days later, will consist of a 9 000km loop with the start and finish in Buenos Aires, Argentina with the turning point in Iquique, Northern Chile. This year there will also be a section of the route in Bolivia.
The total entry list of motorcycles, quads, cars and trucks totals 414 vehicles for this 37th Dakar Rally which is the seventh to be staged in South America. The field includes 64 trucks made up of 14 MAN, 13 DAF, 6 Tatra, 6 Ginaf, 5 Mercedes-Benz, 4 Kamaz, 4 Iveco, 4 Renault, 3 MAZ, 2 Hino, 1 Liaz and 1 unknown make
Hino Team Sugawara has developed power upgrades for the 9-litre AO9C engine which will be fitted to both 500-Series trucks for the 2015 race after having been tested in one of the team’s vehicles last year. The latest version of the larger engine now develops 630hp of power and 2 255N.m of torque. Both trucks have upgraded front and rear suspension systems to improve performance over rough sections of the route.
The trucks are not only made in Japan, but all 18 members of the team are Japanese too, making it evidently the only one national team in the event. The team includes four technicians selected from Hino dealerships in Japan as well as one from Hino’s Vehicle Planning and Production Engineering Division.
Team director and the driver of Hino 1, 74-year-old Yoshimasa Sugawara, will have a wide cab truck to accommodate a three-person crew as he will have two navigators. One is Katsuma Hamura, who has been with Yoshimasa on 13 Dakar Rallies, and the second is a woman journalist, Yoko Wakabayashi (43).
Yoshimasa has been competing in the Dakar longer than anyone, having started on a motorcycle in 1983 at the age of 41. He subsequently raced cars for seven years before switching to trucks in 1992, where he has not missed a rally yet. He has notched up six second runner-up position overall and seven wins in the class for trucks with engines of less than 10 litres capacity.
His son, Teruhito, also now a Dakar veteran, will drive the second Hino racing truck. His has the smaller and lighter narrow body as he only has navigator Hiroyuki Sugiura with him. He has contested the event 16 times with 13 finishes in the top 10.
“Our participation in the Dakar Rally helps us sharpen our production and servicing technologies and provides an excellent test of Hino’s core product ingredients of Quality, Durability and Reliability,” commented the president of Hino Motors, Yasuhiko Ichihashi. “I will be joining the team for the first time when I await their arrival at the finish in Buenos Aires and am looking forward to sharing the excitement.”