Hino Car 1 was crewed by Yoshimasa Sugawara and Katsumi Hamura and had to be pulled out by an organizer's support truck before dawn on Jan. 7. This forced them to withdraw from the remainder of the rally in accordance with regulations that prohibit any assistance from the organizer.
Physically, the crews are doing well. The truck sustained damage to its drive train in their attempts to break free, and the team's mechanics arrived on site on their assistance vehicle in the morning of Jan. 8 to perform emergency repairs.
The third Peruvian stage took contestants from Pisco to San Juan de Marcona. The teams raced a 296 km SS near the Pisco bivouac before heading southward on a liaison on the Pacific coast for Marcona. The SS was divided into two segments. The first segment was an 80 km looped course to the east of the bivouac that started off and finished at the bivouac. This was followed by a 4 km neutral zone, which was assigned a 20 minute interval time for passage, which was then followed by the second 216 km SS segment which was set in an area south of the bivouac. The first segment had sections that were closer to the mountains so the road surface featured not only sand but gravel (dirt) as well. The second half met racers with a variety of different conditions including steep dunes that was extremely difficult to cross.
Teruhito Sugawara said, ‘It was very unfortunate that Car 1 had to withdraw from the rally, but the only thing that we can do is push forward. The harshness of this rally, which started off in Peru, has exceeded all expectations. It appears that many teams are having a hard time one way or another. I think the right way to approach this race would be to maintain an aggressive pace without allowing for too much margin. We had a tough race today but this was a day that things went very well.’
The Teruhito Sugawara and Mitsugu Takahashi crew on Car 2 continued their brisk pace in this difficult stage, finishing 9th overall for the SS. The crew put on a solid demonstration of their capabilities with their first single-digit SS finish, and also climbed to 9th place in overall accumulated rankings. While the truck continues to securely maintain its top position in the Under 10-litre Class, all eyes are now on how far they can climb in overall rankings against its larger rivals.
Mitsugu Takahashi, ‘I'm gradually getting used to Mr. Teruhito’s speed. Navigating the course and crossing the dunes were very difficult so I feel a sense of accomplishment at finishing at 9th place. I was focused on the race while we were racing, but I was anxious for Car 1 once we reached the bivouac.’