Jan 05, 2021
Dakar 2021 kicked off from Jeddah on Jan 3, and the first SS (timed section) of the event was set en route to Bisha.
The HINO500 Series truck crewed by Teruhito Sugawara, Hirokazu Somemiya, and Yuji Mochizuki finished the day at 18th place overall in the Truck Division, and 1st place in the Under 10-litre Class.
A 311-km liaison took contestants in a southeasterly direction along the Red Sea coast from Jeddah to the start line of the day’s 276-km SS that was set in an intermountain area.
While the SS was not long, it challenged racers with a variety of road surfaces including sand and gravel (dirt), as well as rocky sections where the risk of tire punctures was high.
Some sections met navigators with a plethora of branches and the overall difficulty level was quite high for it being first day.
Based on results from the prologue run held on Jan 2, the HINO500 Series truck was the 19th truck out of the SS start line.
The crew was off to a great start, but when they arrived at a rocky section in the first half of the SS, their vision was hampered by dust kicked up by the racer ahead, and sustained punctures to their front and rear tires on the right side at the same time.
While the tire change took less than 20 minutes, they were forced to drive at a reserved pace for the rest of the day because they had used up two of their space tires.
Later in the race, the crew lost about 20 minutes from a navigation error in a section where the branches were difficult to make out, ultimately losing nearly an hour for the day overall.
By the time the truck arrived at the day’s bivouac at the end of a 35-km liaison that started off from the SS finish line, the sun had dipped below the horizon and the clock pointed at around 7:30 pm.
The Hino team’s service squad who had arrived earlier on an assistance route from Jeddah wasted no time after the team meeting to begin servicing the truck.
While the truck was free of any major damage, team mechanics thoroughly inspected and serviced it to prepare it for what was expected to be even higher difficulty levels starting tomorrow and going forward.
On Jan 4, contestants are scheduled to race a 457-km SS heading out eastward from Bisha en route to Wadi Ad Dawasir.
To say nothing of the SS’s long distance, this stage will challenge racers with dune sections and is expected to be the first of the difficult stages.
Two punctured tires in a cloud of dust. Because we were only in the first half, we raced at a reserved pace for long distances, and that resulted in more time lost than we would have liked.
That said, the truck felt very good when we started out so I have great expectations for its performance. I get the feeling that the courses this year have been designed with a more technical bent to them overall.
Our navigating error came at the 212-km point. There were a lot of branches and that made me slip up; kind of like being duped by a trick question.
We’re gradually getting used to the LCD roadbook, but the vibrations are quite brutal.
Dealing with two flat tires at once was hard even though there were three of us. I think this course today was quite difficult for it being the first day.
I will give it my best again from tomorrow on.
In addition to upgrading its output characteristics, we did a lot of work on this HINO500 Series truck, including choosing the right tires for Saudi Arabian terrain with its many dunes, modifying its suspension settings, and putting it through numerous test runs in Japan.
While our servicing squad is slightly smaller, we are all committed to work together to deliver great performance.
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