READY TO RUMBLE: The two all-wheel-drive Hino 500 Series trucks ready for Dakar 2015. See the uprated nine-litre A09C engine with 470kW/ 2255Nm at bottom of story. Image: Quickpic
The Hino Team Sugawara has set its sights on a sixth consecutive class win (engines less than 10-litres) in what will be the 25th Dakar Rally since the team's first appearance in the Dakar, then in North Africa, in 1991.
Hino has entered two four-wheel drive Hino 500-series trucks in the world's most gruelling annual off-road event. The team's objective is to extend its run of reliability that has seen Hino finish all *23 Dakar Rallies it has started.
Hino Team Sugawara has developed power upgrades for the nine-litre AO9C engine which will be fitted to both 500-Series trucks for the 2015 race after being tested in one of the team's vehicles in 2014. The latest version of the larger engine develops 470kW and 2255Nm of torque. Each truck has upgraded front and rear suspensions.
ONE NATION TEAM
They are not only made in Japan but all 18 members of the team are Japanese, making it evidently the only "one nation" team in the event. The team includes four technicians selected from Hino dealers in Japan as well as one from Hino's vehicle planning and production engineering division.
Team director and the driver of Hino 1, 74-year-old Yoshimasa Sugawara, will have a wide-cab truck to accommodate a three-person crew as he will have two navigators. One is Katsuma Hamura, who has been with Yoshimasa on 13 Dakars, and the second is a female journalist, Yoko Wakabayashi (43).
YOSHIMASA - THE DAKAR VETERAN
Yoshimasa has been competing in the Dakar for decades, having started on a motorcycle in 1983 at 41. He then raced cars for seven years before switching to trucks in 1992, where he has not missed a rally. He has notched up six third places overall and seven wins in the class for trucks with engines of less than 10 litres.
His son Teruhito, also a Dakar veteran, will drive the second Hino racing truck. It has a smaller and lighter body as he only has navigator - Hiroyuki Sugiura - to assist him. He has contested the event 16 times with 13 finishes in the top 10.
President of Hino Motors, Yasuhiko Ichihashi, said:"Our participation in the Dakar Rally helps us sharpen our production and servicing technologies and provides an excellent test for Hino's core product ingredients - quality, durability and reliability.
"I will join the team for the first time when I await their arrival at the finish in Buenos Aires and am looking forward to sharing the excitement."
2015 DAKAR RALLY
The 2015 event, which will start on January 3 and finish 14 days later, will consist of a 9000km loop with the start and finish in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with the turning point in Iquique, northern Chile. There will also be a detour into Bolivia.
The total entry of motorcycles, quads, cars and trucks is 414 for this 37th Dakar Rall, the seventh in South America. The field includes 64 trucks made up of 14 MAN, 13 DAF, six Tatra, six Ginaf, five Mercedes-Benz, four Kamaz, four Iveco, four Renault, three MAZ, two Hino, one Liaz and one unknown make.
*There was no Dakar event in 2008 due to terrorist threats in North Africa.
Image: The uprated nine-litre A09C engine of the Hino 500 Series truck kicks out 470kW and a whopping 2255Nm.