74 year old Yoshimasa Sugawara (a Dakar Living Legend) eagerly looks forward to racing the final stages of the rally.
While the original plan called for a 406km Stage 9 SS in the Argentine Andes foothills that would have challenged racers with a high level of difficulty, organizers were forced to cancel the SS again due to the route being rendered impassable from mudslides on January 10.
After completing a 200km detour due to the mudslides, Hino Team Sugawara’s two HINO500 Series trucks finally pulled into the bivouac at Salta, Argentina with Cars 2 and 1 arriving just before 11:30 pm and 1:00 am, respectively. While the crews had been informed of the cancelation of the next day’s stage, members of the Hino team remained coolheaded in carrying out inspections and servicing to keep their trucks in optimum condition, with lights ablaze on assistance vehicles and trucks that arrived one after the other.
The mechanics worked through the night, and the HINO500 Series trucks left Salta at 7:30 am, arriving at the bivouac in Chilecito, Argentina at around 6:00 pm. The assistance group arrived later and the trucks underwent final inspections. The itinerary for January 12 is scheduled to take contestants on a long 448km SS set in the intermountain areas to the west of Chilecito.
Despite another wash out day, Car 1 driver, Yoshimasa Sugawara remained optimistic. “I will be shifting gears mentally because we will be facing another long SS tomorrow. My goal for this rally is to make it into the top 20 in accumulated overall standings. I will give it my best to demonstrate the fruit of our year of work.”