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HINO Aiming Higher in 2012 Dakar Rally
Hino, the leading Japanese truck manufacturer, is setting its sights higher in the 2012 Dakar Rally in South America as it kicks off a three-year programme to be among the top five finishers overall in the 2014 Dakar Rally. This has resulted in Hino Team Sugawara preparing a new model race truck for the first time in eight years.
This year Hino registered its 20th consecutive finish in the Dakar Rally and notched up another 1-2 finish in the under 10-litre engine category, thereby adding a further page to Hino's amazing run of success in this gruelling world famous rally-raid.
Competing in the standard production category for trucks with engines of less than 10 litres Hino Team Sugawara has established an unprecedented record for finishing Dakar Rallies while scoring many class wins. However, in terms of scoring a high overall placing the challenge has been immense as it means taking on trucks with more than double the engine capacity of the Hino.
This year the team used a truck that weighed 200kg less than previously and had a more powerful engine, which made it a serious threat to the top five trucks in various stages of the race.
Now the team has decided to lift the bar further by entering two new Hino 500 Series GT model trucks in the modified truck category. The GT model is better suited to being modified than the FT model as it has a wider chassis frame, while an even more powerful engine will be mounted amidships to improve weight distribution.
In addition the rear van body will be another 200kg lighter as it will be constructed of carbon fibre instead of aluminium. The modified truck regulations also permit changes to the suspension system and drive train so the final result is expected to be an excellent combination of much improved performance with the traditional Hino virtues of reliability and durability.
The increasing speed and the rising number of roll-over accidents in the truck category has resulted in the Dakar Rally organisers stipulating extra safety equipment, including roll bars in the cabs to protect the crew and these are being built into the new trucks.
Hino Team Sugawara will again have as its leader the team's founder, Yoshimasa Sugawara who has earned the nickname of the "Japanese Legend of the Dakar": with 28 consecutive entries in the Dakar Rally and a record 20 consecutive finishes. Yoshimasa turned 70 on May 31 and says he has no plans to retire. When he is not working on the new Hino race trucks he keeps fit by taking part in car and motorcycle races. "The Iron Man is alive and well!"
The second Hino race truck will again be driven by Yoshimasa's son, Teruhito, who has already established an amazing record in the Dakar Rally with only one finish outside the top 10 in 13 years.
The two drivers know Hino trucks inside and out and are co-developing the "Little Monsters" with the assistance of Hino engineers and various component manufacturers to ensure the new trucks can provide serious competition to the larger displacement opposition.
The new trucks will be given a real shakedown in Rally Mongolia, which takes place from August 8-15. This outing will be followed by further test runs in Japan and then the trucks will be shipped to Argentina for final adjustments and tuning in the second half of December
The 2012 Dakar Rally will start from on January 1 from Mar del Plata, the largest and most famous resort in Argentina, located 400km south of the country's capital of Buenos Aires. The route will then take competitors west towards the Andes Mountains, go north along the mountains and enter Chile. The region encompassing the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth, is again expected to be the main battlefield of the rally.
The 10 000km route will then enter Peru, adding a new dimension to the event, with the finish in Lima on January 16. There will be a rest day on January 8, making 14 days of flat out racing.