Hino, a leading Japanese truck manufacturer, collected the prize for the highest placed truck with an engine under 10 litres capacity for the 12th successive year when the second Dakar Rally to be staged in Saudi Arabia ended in Jeddah on January 15. The only other under 10 litre competitors in the event, two Mercedes-Benz Unimogs, withdrew from the race two days before the finish.
The four-wheel drive Hino 500 Series truck, crewed by Teruhito Sugawara, Hirokazu Somemiya and Yuji Mochizuki, came 12th overall out of 29 finishers from an original field of 44 trucks. This is the same Hino team who finished 10th overall out of an entry of 46 trucks in 2020.
Teruhito Sugawara, the lead driver and team principal of Team Hino Sugawara, has now competed in 22 Dakar Rallies and has only finished out of the top 15 overall twice in the 17 years he has been a driver, after previously navigating for his father.
It was once again a David vs Goliath battle
It was once again a David vs Goliath battle as the Hino valiantly raced against a field comprising mostly specially developed racing trucks with much larger capacity engines. Hino downsized its team for this year’s event, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team was shaved to the bare minimum with only one racing truck and only three mechanics in the support team. None of the mechanics were drafted into the team from Hino dealerships as has been the situation in recent years.
Hino competed in the Dakar Rally for the first time in 1991
Hino competed in the Dakar Rally for the first time in 1991 and at least one Hino has been a finisher every year the event has been staged since then. Hino was once again the only Japanese brand in a field of Western and Eastern European trucks.
It was not easy for the Hino team this year as the route was very demanding. The crew also had to deal with a forward roll over in the sand dunes that put the truck on its roof in the third racing stage. The truck was put back on its wheels with the help of a fellow competitor. There was major damage to the rear bodywork but, fortunately, the drivetrain was virtually undamaged, and the team was able to make it back to the overnight stop for repairs, although they had lost a great deal of time.
This year’s Dakar, which was the 43rd in this series of long distance cross-country races which has now taken place in three global regions – Africa, South America, and the Middle East – attracted a field of 321 entered vehicles, 286 starters. A total of 93 fell out during the two-week event which took competitors over a route of 7 812 km, which included 4 688 km of special timed stages.
“Hino’s ongoing record for reliability in the world’s toughest motorsport event makes us, at Hino South Africa, very proud because reliability and durability are two of the major attributes of the brand which continues to be a significant player in the local market, where it has been a participant for the past 48 years,”
commented Pieter Klerck, General Manager of Hino SA.