Jan 07, 2021
On Jan 5, the Teruhito Sugawara/Hirokazu Somemiya/Yuji Mochizuki crew on their HINO500 Series truck racing the 403-km SS based out of Wadi Ad-Dawasir in the southern part of Saudi Arabia suffered a tip-over on a dune just before the 137-km point. All three crew members were fortunately unharmed and were able to continue racing after another racer from behind helped them set the truck back upright. The truck ultimately finished the stage at 26th place overall.
After arriving at the bivouac at around 7:30 pm, the truck had to be checked by the Technical Committee. Based on the check, thanks to the fact that its roll bar was undamaged–a safety requirement for racing–the Committee ruled that the truck may continue the race provided that its windshield is installed and its rear body is repaired, among other things. The team moved quickly to get these repairs done.
The southern part of the country is dominated by the Rub’ al Khali Desert which is Arabic for “land devoid of anything” (Empty Quarter). The day’s SS was based out of Wadi Ad-Dawasir in the northern edge of this area and consisted of a loop course through the northern part of the desert. The course featured not only sand, but a rich variety of terrain such ravines and rocky areas, as well as wadi (dried riverbeds). It met racers with numerous technical sections with elevated risks of damaging their racing vehicles as well as sections that were highly challenging for navigators. The accident occurred on a hill in a dunes section in the first half of the stage. The truck drove into a pocket on the way down at 40 km/h and pivoted on its front axle, causing it to tip over forward. Down flat on the ground with its wheels in the air, the truck’s cab was deformed, its windshield was blown out, and its rear body also suffered major damage, but there was almost no damage to its power train or chassis. While the crew finished the SS at 26th place, or 4 hours and 21 minutes behind the top leading truck, and its accumulated rankings to date declined to 18th place, it is still too early in the race to say much.
Teruhito Sugawara: We tipped over towards a depression on our way down a slope. We weren’t going that fast and it was like slow motion watching our windscreen blow out. We are going to fix the truck one way or another and continue racing.
Hirokazu Somemiya: None of our navigation equipment was damaged in the tip-over so I was able to continue navigating once we were up and running again. The only thing was that it got very cold with the windshield gone. But that’s all behind us now, so I will continue to give it my best tomorrow and beyond.
Yuji Mochizuki: Although it took a bit over an hour from the time we tipped over to when we got the truck back upright, oil hadn’t gotten into the cylinders so we were able to start the engine back up without any problem. The data logger was damaged in the accident but all of our driving functions are working fine.
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