Hino Motors, of Japan, aims to rewrite the record book in the 208 Dakar Rally which takes place in January, starting in Lima, Peru, on the 6th, with a rest day in La Paz, Bolivia on the 12th and finishes in Cordoba, Argentina on the 20th.
This will be the 40th edition of the famous and very demanding Dakar Rally and the fourth to be staged in South America. The demanding route will be made up of 5 000km of timed, racing stages and 4 000km of road sections between the timed stages.
Hino, which was the first Japanese truck manufacturer to enter the Dakar Rally in 1991, will be aiming for its third consecutive 1-2 finish, ninth straight win in the class for trucks with engines under 10 litres capacity and the 35th consecutive entry by driver and director of Hino Team Sugawara, Yoshimasa Sugawara.
Yoshimasa, nicknamed Iron Man of the Dakar and now 76, entered the motorcycle category of the Dakar Rally in 1983 and has competed in every event since then. His partnership with Hino began in 1992 when the rally ended in Cape Town. His 34th entry in the 2017 Dakar was recognised as a Guinness World Record.
Yoshimasa’s son, Teruhito, is the team’s lead driver and last year achieved his eighth consecutive win in the under 10-litre category, rewriting the record book which had previously seen Hino notch seven successive class wins between 1996 and 2002.
The team will again enter two Hino 500 four-wheel drive trucks with turbocharged, 9-litre engines developing 515kW (600ps) at 2 400r/min in Truck No. 2, to be crewed by Teruhito Sugawara and navigator Mitsugu Takahashi, and slightly downrated at 493kW (670ps) at 2 300r/min in Truck No. 1, to be crewed by Yoshimasa Sugawara and navigator Katsumi Hamura. In both cases the engines deliver 2 314N.m of torque at 1 200r/min. Transmission is via a six-speed gearbox with hi-lo shifting. Each truck carries 700 litres of fuel.
Significant changes have been made to the suspension and other aspects of these racing trucks since the 2017 Dakar Rally. In addition, the team has participated in the Silkway Rally and Rally Mongolia in the intervening months to ensure the trucks are both fast and reliable as the team prepares to take on the rigours of the 2018 Dakar Rally.
Team Hino Sugawara will be backed up by a team of technicians selected from Hino dealerships in Japan.
There are 44 entries in the truck category for the 2018 Dakar Rally made up of 12 brands. MAN is the most popular brand in the field with 11 entries. The remainder of competing brands are: Mercedes-Benz and DAF (5 each), Kamaz, Iveco and Tatra (4 each), Maz and Renault (3 each), Hino (2), Ginaf, Scania and Liaz (1 each).
“While the top positions in the truck category of the Dakar Rally are dominated by monster trucks with engines having capacities of more than 10 litres, the Hino team continues to battle with its rivals under the motto ‘small can prevail over large’,” said Yoshimasa Sugawara, the team principal of Team Hino Sugawara.
“We are very proud that we continue to rewrite the records on reliability by bringing together Hino’s engineering capabilities in truck design, development, manufacturing, and servicing expertise, with a closely-knit team that has accumulated a great deal of experience over the years. We are looking forward to the challenges that the 2018 Dakar Rally will throw at us.”