Team Hino Sugawara is aiming for its 33rd consecutive finish in the gruelling 2024 Dakar Rally which takes place in Saudi Arabia from 5 – 19 January. Hino, the lone Japanese manufacturer in a field of mainly Western and Eastern European trucks, will enter the Hino 600 diesel-electric hybrid truck that it debuted in 2023.
This year’s route will consist of a prologue, to set starting positions, on the first day, followed by 12 days of racing split by a rest day. Total distance of the timed special stages will be 5 000 km, with a further 3 000 km to be covered on the road sections. The event will start in Alula and finish in Yanbu with the rest day in Riyadh.
The 2023 Dakar proved a major challenge for the Hino 600 Hybrid, first with fuel system problems and later a host of punctures, but the team battled to the end, finishing 22nd after running as high as eighth at one stage.
The race truck has undergone an extensive development programme during the year year, with the focus on improving reliability. The straight six turbo-diesel engine with its hybrid system produces almost 800 horsepower and drives all four wheels through a six-speed transmission and the truck weighs 8 300 kg.
The Team Hino Sugawara race truck will be driven by team director Teruhito Sugawara who has driven a Hino in the Dakar since 2005, which will make it his 24th Dakar and 17th as a driver, having previously competed in five events as co-driver to his father, Yoshimasa, who competed in 36 Dakar Rallies before retiring.
Teruhito’s highest placing was second overall in 2001 when co-driving with his father, and sixth overall as a driver in 2018. He has won the under 10 litre class 13 times. Teruhito will be accompanied by co-driver Somemiya Hirokazu and mechanic Mochizuki Yuji for the third consecutive year.
Hino has taken part in every Dakar Rally since 1991 and each year at least one Hino has completed the event and qualified as a finisher.
The 2024 Dakar Rally promises to be one of the toughest ever, as it includes a 600 km timed special stage over two days in the so-called Empty Quarter, described as the Desert of Death. The format will be a so-called “48-hour marathon”, with no outside help permitted – competitors can only help each other.
From 16:00 on each of the two days the crews must travel to the next bivouac for an overnight stop that lasts until 07:00 the next day. There will be eight of these bivouacs on the route with no communication of the standings of the crews at that stage. There will also be two routes – one for motorcycles and quads and another for cars and trucks. This means the leading cars each day will not have the benefit of motorcycle tracks to follow, which will put a premium on navigation.
The 2024 Dakar Rally has attracted a total field of 778 vehicles, including 46 trucks in the main race and a further 14 trucks competing in the Classics category. There are 10 different makes in the main truck field made up of Iveco (18), MAN (13), Tatra (4), DAF (3), Renault, Scania (2 each) and Hino, Praga, Ford, and Ginaf (1 each). Last year there were 56 trucks in the main field. There are no Russian Kamaz trucks in the field for the second year running due to the Ukrainian war.
“We are very pleased that Hino has decided to continue its participation in the Dakar Rally, which is considered the toughest motor sport event in the world, as it is an ideal proving ground for Hino’s core characteristics of Quality, Durability and Reliability,” commented Anton Falck, Vice President of Hino South Africa.
“Hino has built up an amazing finishing record and this year will be of special interest as Team Hino Sugawara will again campaign the Hino 600 Hybrid that made its debut in this year’s Dakar. Hino South Africa currently has Hino 300 Hybrid under evaluation for possible introduction to its range in the near future, so the racing Hino Hybrid is very relevant to Hino’s plans for New Energy Vehicles into the future,” added Falck.