Hino Team Sugawara made an excellent debut with its first new racing truck in eight years when it finished sixth overall and the highest placed trucks in the recent Rally Mongolia, which started and finished at Ulan Bator.The main reason for competing in this gruelling 3 000km race, run over seven days, was to evaluate the new truck with the eye on the 2012 Dakar Rally in South America.
The team’s truck was driven by Teruhito Sugawara, son of team owner Yoshimasa Sugawara, and navigated by Hiroyuki Sugiura.
Yoshimasa Sugawara, who is now 70 years of age and known as the Iron Man of the Dakar Rally, also competed in Rally Mongolia. Driving a Suzuki Jimny he put in a solid performance when many vehicles got stuck in the sand dunes and finished just behind the Hino 500 to take seventh in the car category.
The following comments were made by Teruhito Sugawara reviewing the test run in Rally Mongolia.
“We have made major changes in building the new truck, when compared to the Hino we raced in the 2011 Dakar Rally where we finished ninth overall. The improvements included reducing its weight by 300kg, placing the engine in a mid-ship position, lowering the truck’s center of gravity, widening its track width, making changes to suspension settings to match these changes, and installing a cab suspension system.
“While we will be using the same engine that we used for the 2011 Dakar Rally, the truck’s steering reaction and stability meant we could drive much faster. I’ve got a feeling that these improvements are so important that we could have shortened our driving time by at least 10% if we had competed the 2011 Dakar Rally in this truck.
“Additionally, by installing the intercooler and oil cooler at the top of the cargo area, allowing these to suck in outside air directly, I get a real feel that this improvement contributes to the cooling performance of the new mid-engine layout.
“However, a key factor for delivering good performance at the Dakar Rally is to finish the race without encountering any problems. In addition to this race in Mongolia, he has been energetically racing in domestic off road races to ensure he is fully prepared for the Dakar Rally.
Data that they have collected during tests will be analysed by the development team at Hino and the drivers, Yoshimasa Sugawara and Teruhito Sugawara, to make final adjustments as the team prepares for the 20th Dakar Rally.