Jan 14, 2021
On Jan 12, Dakar 2021 met contestants with a 465-km SS based out of Neom in the northwestern part of Saudi Arabia. The HINO500 Series truck fielded by HINO TEAM SUGAWARA and crewed by Teruhito Sugawara, Hirokazu Somemiya, and Yuji Mochizuki finished the day at 10th place overall in the Truck Division.
While their overall accumulated standing remains unchanged, they were able to cut down their time difference with the leading group. The truck continues to maintain its top position in the Under 10-litre Class with a lead of 31-plus hours over the 2nd place truck piloted by Ibrahim Almuhna and crew (Mercedes Benz Unimog).
While the previous event also featured a looped stage based out of Neom, this year’s course set in the hills nearby took racers in a clockwise direction, opposite from last year. Starting off at a point 109 km away from the bivouac on the coast near the Jordanian border, the SS soon climbed up into intermountain areas that greeted contestants with a variety of different surfaces ranging from gravel (dirt) to sand, as well as wadi (dried riverbeds) and fesh-fesh.
The punishing course was packed with a variety of features including bumpy sand roads with grassy outcrops, hard rocky surfaces, and extremely dusty wadi that kept average speeds low, as well as rocks hidden under sand that increased the risk of tire punctures.
The HINO500 Series crew maintained their composure taking on this SS. While they punctured their front-right tire in a wadi, they were back up and running in about 10 minutes to continue the rest of the day error-free and wedge their way into the leading group of larger trucks for a 10th place finish overall. The SS was followed by a 6-km liaison that took crews back to the bivouac in Neom. After a good wash down, the truck was inspected and serviced by the team’s mechanics to prepare for next day’s stage. On Jan 13, contestants are scheduled to head out from Neom on the Red Sea coast towards the interior on a 582-km stage which will include a 342-km SS en route to AlUla.
This was a tough stage with rough roads, rocks, and extreme dust. We started riding on XAL tires for semi-muddy conditions today and this improved the truck’s handling stability. I think they were a good fit for the course. We raced the segment out to AlUla scheduled for tomorrow last year, but it appears we will be taking a different route.
There were a lot of block drawings for navigation today, so my throat is wasted from talking all day. We came across branches that were like trick questions so I’m happy that we made it to the finish error-free.
The road surfaces shifted so quickly, tire pressure adjustments couldn’t keep up at times. I’m doing fine physically, but I’m feeling pain in my neck from all the shaking. It was a busy day.
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