Hino, the leading Japanese truck manufacturer and the first one from that country to enter the gruelling Dakar Rally, way back in 1991, registered its 23rd consecutive finish in the 2014 edition of this gruelling cross-country race which finished in Valparaiso, Chile, on January 18.
The two-truck Hino Team Sugawara once again had a 100% finishing record and scored a 1-2 in the Dakar Challenge for trucks with engines of less than 10 litres capacity, making it five consecutive class wins.
“We are delighted at yet another display of reliability and durability by Hino trucks in the toughest, regular test for this type of vehicle in open competition in the world,” commented the vice president of Hino South Africa, Dr. Casper Kruger.
“The two, four-wheel drive Hino 500-Series trucks entered by Hino Team Sugawara were once again the only representatives from the Japanese truck industry to participate in this two-week marathon across some of the world’s most desolate regions. The strong performance also served to underline Hino’s competitive spirit and technological resources.”
The truck crewed by Teruhito Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura, of Japan, finished 12th overall out of the 50 finishers from an original entry of 71 trucks and won the Dakar Challenge for trucks with an engine capacity of less than 10 litres. This was the 14th time Hino has won this engine capacity award in the 15 times it has been contested since 1996.
The second Hino, crewed by Teruhito’s 72-year-old father, Yoshimasa, and navigator Katsumi Hamura, placed 32nd overall and second in the under 10-litre Challenge.
What makes the Dakar Rally a David and Goliath contest in the truck category is the fact that the Hino uses production-based six-cylinder intercooled turbocharged engines of less than 10-litres, while most of its rivals are in the “monster” category with much larger capacity engines developed specifically for this annual race.
The chairman of Hino Motors Limited, Masakazu Ichikawa, was at the finish to welcome the two crews and said next year the target will be to get a Hino back in the top 10 overall as well as continuing to dominate the under 10-litre engine category.
This year Yoshimasa Sugawara’s truck was fitted with the Hino 9-litre common rail A09C turbo-intercooled engine which marked the first time the Hino team has used a power unit with a capacity greater than 8-litres. This was an on-event test of the larger capacity power unit in preparation for the 2015 event and the engine performed very well.
The bigger engine develops 445kW of power and 1 950N.m of torque compared to 360kW of power and 1 425N.m of torque delivered by the 8-litre JO8C engine fitted to Teruhito Sugawara’s No. 2 racing truck.
This year’s route, which started in Rosario, Argentina, and went into Bolivia before the finish in Valparaiso, Chile, was 9 188km in length, with 5 212km of the route making up the 13 timed special stages. The route included many timed special stages far longer than usual and a there was a lot of high altitude running, often above 3 000m, which was taxing on the crews and power sapping for the vehicles.
This year Hino continued its long association with Team Sugawara, which is headed up by Yoshimasa Sugawara, who has entered the Dakar Rally 31 times consecutively – a record. He is the only Japanese to have competed in this epic race on a motorcycle and quad as well as in a car and truck.
Now 72 years of age he holds the record for the most consecutive finishes in the Dakar Rally at 23. His son, Teruhito, contested the Dakar Rally for the 16th time in this year’s race and this was only the third time he has finished outside the top 10.
Hino, Iveco and Renault were the only three makes with a 100% finishing record in this year’s race out of a field that also included Kamaz, MAN, Mercedes-Benz, DAF, Iveco, Maz, Ginaf and Tatra trucks.
Interestingly the second Dakar in which Hino participated finished in Cape Town after starting in Paris, with the Japanese trucks in 4th, 5th, 6th and 10th positions. The big breakthrough came in 1994 with a second position overall. This achievement was repeated in 1995, 1997, 1998, 2001 and 2005.
The most successful year for Hino was 1997 when it became the first and until 2011 the only maker to take the first three places overall in the truck category when the route went from Dakar to Agades and back to Dakar. In 2011 Kamaz, of Russia, became only the second truck maker to register a 1-2-3 finish and repeated this feat in 2013.