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STAGE8: Crew Finishes Punishing SS at 13th Place, and Climbs to 13th in Accumulated Standings. Finishes the second day of the marathon stage problem-free.

The area where the side panel broke off is covered with a stopgap covering of cloth

The HINO team goes over repairs and inspection procedures

Jan 11 was the second day of the marathon stage, where contestants raced a 375-km SS (timed section) from Sakaka en route to Neom. The Teruhito Sugawara/Hirokazu Somemiya/Yuji Mochizuki crew racing their HINO500 Series truck in the Truck Division finished the SS at 13th place.

 In these marathon stages — which in recent years have become a regular fixture featured once every event — racing crews must make do for two days without their mechanics for servicing or part supplies. This year, it was set at the very beginning of the second half of the rally.
Having finished day one of the stage trouble-free — except for a portion of the truck’s rear body panel breaking off — the crew inspected their HINO500 Series truck at the Sakaka bivouac, and headed out for the second day in top condition.

 The SS started off at a point in the hills 226 km west of Sakaka and took racers westward through intermountain sections at elevations ranging between 800 and 1200 meters to Neom, the day’s destination on the Red Sea coast. The stage met the crew with long stretches of rocky terrain and hard gravel surfaces that induced intense up-and-down shaking on the truck’s body, as well as road shoulders strewn with rocks and sandy surfaces that concealed pointed stones underneath, which meant that they had to be extra watchful not to puncture any tires.
The HINO500 Series truck’s crew raced at a steady pace, finishing the stage with no tire punctures. Their performance in this SS was enough to push their accumulated standings up one notch to 13th place. They also maintained their top position in the Under 10-litre Class.

 Once across the SS finish line, they took a 108-km liaison to Neom near the coast, arriving at the bivouac at around 5:30 pm. The area is located on the northwestern tip of Saudi Arabia near the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba. The HINO team’s assistance squad was on standby at the bivouac, having traveled directly to the bivouac from Ha’il where teams had their rest day.
And once the HINO500 Series truck arrived, they wasted no time inspecting and servicing the truck for the first time in two days. On Jan 12, contestants will race a 465-km SS on a loop course based out of Neom in an intermountain area near the city.

Teruhito Sugawara
There were long stretches of rough roads, which were really draining on us, and we also had one of our tail lamps fall off from the shaking. Other than that, we are doing fine. The courses have been generally tougher compared to last year, and navigation has also been challenging. We have four more days to go so I will be giving it my best.

Hirokazu Somemiya
I get pain in my lower back when we’re hit with intense up-and-down shaking while I’m concentrated on the roadbook display. I received a massage from a medical staff yesterday and I was on painkillers for the race today. Navigation itself was not that difficult.

Yuji Mochizuki
We covered the portion where the side panel broke off with a piece of cloth as a stopgap fix. There will be fewer sandy sections in the latter part of the rally so we have asked our squad to refit the truck with tires for semi-muddy conditions. These tires have better grip and braking performance, so I think they will be a good fit for these stages.

The area where the side panel broke off is covered with a stopgap covering of cloth

Teruhito Sugawara is interviewed at the bivouac in Neom

Teruhito Sugawara and Hirokazu Somemiya wind down in their tent at the bivouac

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