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STAGE11: Truck Finishes Last Long Stage at 13th Place. Prevails over 80 km of dunes error-free.

Teruhito Sugawara is relieved to have finished this challenging stage towards the end of the event

HINO500 Series truck refuels at the Yanbu bivouac

Here we are on Jan 14 with two more days to go in Dakar 2021 competition. This day, contestants raced a long 464-km SS out of AlUla in the central western part of Saudi Arabia and Yanbu. The HINO500 Series truck fielded by HINO TEAM SUGAWARA (crewed by Teruhito Sugawara, Hirokazu Somemiya, and Yuji Mochizuki) finished the day at 13th place overall in the Truck Division with a 1-hour, 14-minute, and 13-second time difference behind the top position truck in the Division, the KAMAZ – MASTER truck piloted by Anton Shibalov and crew.

The day’s competition started out at the end of a 2-km liaison out of the AlUla bivouac. The SS took contestants southward in a region to the east of a chain of mountains that rose along the coast, and then switched direction towards the coast to reach the finish line at Yanbu. Although the SS had to be shortened to 464 km from its originally scheduled distance of 511 km due to rain damage on some roads in the region and flooding salt lakes, this didn’t change the fact that it was still a very challenging, long-distance course, making it a tough day for all contestants racing these last stages of the rally. Road surfaces of the stage alternated between hard gravel surfaces, wadi (dried riverbed), and fesh-fesh (powdery soil). The latter half of the stage featured an 80-km stretch of dunes, making it the most challenging stage in the second week of the rally.

The HINO500 Series truck crew fought fearlessly this day at a pace that was comparable to that of their rivals in the larger class of trucks. The truck finished the SS trouble-free with no punctures, without getting stuck or suffering any problems to its body. Once across the SS finish line, the crew took a 134-km liaison to arrive at the bivouac that was set up near the Yanbu Airport.

Jan 15 is the last day of the rally already. After racing a 204-km SS, the last of the event, in the outskirts of Yanbu, contestants will go on to cross the finish line at the finish podium at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, the same venue that the starting ceremony was held in. The HINO500 Series truck’s standing as of the end of competition on Jan 14 was 13th place in overall accumulated ranking in the Truck Division, and 1st place in the Under 10-litre Class. While these standings are unlikely to change much from here, team mechanics at the Yanbu bivouac diligently carried out their final inspection and servicing tasks to ensure that the truck is ready to make a trouble-free finish.

Teruhito Sugawara
The winds were low again today so it took time for dust kicked up by other racers to clear, making for bad visibility. The dunes section was long and there were dunes that were quite risky with precipitous drops on the descending end. In terms of pace, I think we did quite well for the truck we have now.

Hirokazu Somemiya
I hurt my neck from the shock when we were crossing a gap in the latter half of the stage. I couldn’t brace myself as I was looking at the roadbook. Other than that, I’m doing fine. I will give it my best for one more day so that we can make a solid finish.

Yuji Mochizuki
Tire air pressure adjustments went well today because the stage was split between the first half with hard surfaces, and the second half with mostly dunes. The day was tough overall because the course itself was quite challenging and the dune section was long. I’m a bit worried for Mr. Somemiya.

Yuji Mochizuki takes his meal at the bivouac

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