Jan 08, 2021
Down but not out! HINO TEAM SUGAWARA’s HINO500 Series truck (crewed by Teruhito Sugawara, Hirokazu Somemiya, and Yuji Mochizuki), which suffered an unfortunate tip-over in a dunes section on Jan 5, was ready to go the next morning after a night of repairs at the bivouac.
On Jan 6, the truck raced the 337-km SS (timed section) set between Wadi Ad-Dawasir and Riyadh without a hitch, finishing at 15th overall in the Truck Division.
The day’s SS started off near the end of a 266-km liaison that stretched northward from Wadi Ad-Dawasir in the southwestern part of the country.
In stark contrast to the previous day’s stage, this was a high-speed stage with many of its sections weaving through the mountains.
60% of the road surfaces was sand, with gravel (dirt) making up around 30%.
Crews had to be on their toes as they tackled winding trails on sandy surfaces and dusty sections at the bottom of dried riverbeds, as well as steep dunes that were a serious hazard to cross.
The Hino crew started later in the starting order at 23rd place because of their late arrival at the bivouac the previous day, but once out of the gate, they picked up their true pace and quickly overtook a succession of trucks ahead of them.
The Hino500 Series truck finished the day’s SS in 15th place, 28 minutes and 4 seconds behind the leader of the day, the Sotnikov crew on their KAMAZ.
This result pushes them up by one spot in accumulated rankings to 17th overall in the Truck Division.
The team maintains its top spot in the Under 10-litre Class with a 9-hour, 33-minute, 35-second lead over the runner up in the Class, Ibrahim Almuhna and crew (Mercedes Benz Unimog).
Once across the SS finish line, trucks traveled north for another 253 km on a liaison to reach the bivouac set up on the side of a highway on the outskirts of Riyadh.
With a total driving distance of 856 km, this was the longest stage of this event.
It was well past sunset at around 7:00 pm by the time the HINO500 Series truck arrived at the bivouac.
On Jan 7, teams will be heading further north to reach Al Qaisumah, racing a 456-km SS en route.
This location replaced the originally planned bivouac in Buraydah, and is situated near the border with Kuwait to the east.
An FIA Technical Committee official came in to check and approve the repairs we had done before we could start the race today.
We didn’t come across any problems on the SS so we were relieved that we could drive the way we’re used to.
Today, we are asking our mechanics to perform inspections and fix some details that we couldn’t get around to last night.
The cold I had until yesterday has cleared up so it felt good racing today.
There were a few areas where navigation was a bit tricky, but things went fine.
It’s quite inconvenient that there’s no way to jot down my own notes on the digital roadbook.
The hardest part with our repairs yesterday was installing the windshield.
There was hardly any bending on the lower area or pillars, but the top area was bent pretty bad, so we had to pull it out with a winch.
We got it right in the end, and there was no draft coming in today. Tonight, I am going to be checking the wiring in our data logger.
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