Hino Team Sugawara will again compete in the gruelling, eight-day Rally Mongolia as it prepares its racing truck for the 2015 Dakar Rally in South America. This will be the 20th running of Rally Mongolia, which includes stages in the Gobi Desert, and it will be the fifth year that it is being used as an important test by the Hino team.
Rally Mongolia starts on August 10 and finishes on August 17 with a demanding route of 3 800km split into eight special timed stages, with the longest being 560km in length.
Hino Team Sugawara has dominated the truck category on each occasion it has entered Rally Mongolia which attracts a big field, made up of motorcycles, cars and trucks.
The big change in specification for the 2015 Dakar Rally will be the use of modified versions of the 9-litre A09C turbo diesel engine in both racing trucks after having been tested successfully in the No. 1 truck in the 2014 Dakar Rally. Previously the team used an 8-litre power unit and the extra power from the larger capacity engine has resulted in other significant changes to the four-wheel drive Hino 500-Series trucks.
The major challenge has been to optimise the suspension to keep the wheels in contact with the surface it is travelling on. This has resulted in the adoption of tapered springs on all four wheels instead of the usual multi-leaf spring system fitted previously. In addition torque rods have been incorporated to control the lateral movement of the axles.
Feedback from the performance of the sole Hino entered in the Mongolian event will provide vital information regarding the final specification for the 2015 Dakar Rally trucks, where the objective is not only to win the under-10-litre engine capacity class again, but also to aim for a high overall finishing position against the so-called monster trucks.
The Hino Team Sugawara entry in Rally Mongolia this year will be driven by Teruhito Sugawara, who has already completed 17 Dakar Rallies. He will have a new navigator in Mongolia this year in the form of Koji Tanaka, who previously drove the Hino Team Sugawara support truck. This is all part of a programme to ensure all members of the team learn new skills to enhance the team’s overall performance.
Teruhito’s 73-year-old father, Yoshimasa, who will compete in his 33rd Dakar Rally next January, will keep his hand in on Rally Mongolia by driving a Suzuki Jimny once again. He will use the same navigator as he did in winning the Jimny class last year, in the shape of a woman journalist, Yoko Wakabayashi, but this time the event will be a forerunner to her becoming a member of Hino Team Sugawara for the 2015 Dakar Rally.
On the latter event Ms Wakabayashi will share navigating duties with Yoshimasa’s usual team-mate Katsumi Hamura, allowing Yoshimasa to concentrate on the driving. The team also believes having a three-member crew in Hino No.1 will be beneficial when tasks such as changing a wheel in the race have to be undertaken.