This day, in what was to be the last of the five back-to-back stages in Peru, racers raced a 267 km SS between San Juan de Marcona and Arequipa. Hino Team Sugawara Car 2, piloted by Teruhito Sugawara and Mitsugu was held up for about 25 minutes by an immobilized vehicle midway through the stage, the duo finished the day’s SS at 12th place overall and top in the Under 10-litre Class for an accumulated standing at 5th place overall (provisional).
The SS for the day was set up in the same area east of Marcona as yesterday (Jan. 9) with partially different courses for the motorbikes division, and cars and trucks divisions. Each course was divided into two parts which were connected by an intervening neutral zone. Trucks travelled to an area near the coast about 52 km away from the bivouac where the starting line for the first half of the SS which was set up. This SS was short at 53 km and was followed by an 80 km neutral zone before taking trucks onto the second half of the SS which was 214 km long.
In varying conditions that included soft sand, hard dirt, fesh-fesh (very soft, fine, and powdery soil) just as yesterday, the terrain confronted racers with the two-fold risk of potentially damaging their vehicles on hard surfaces and getting stuck in soft sand.
Teruhito Sugawara said, ‘Today was the last day of the difficult sandy stages. I’m glad that we were able to deliver solid performance without making any errors. Going forward, there will be increased risks of tire flats, so we will remain diligent.’
Finishing 4th place yesterday’s SS, the Teruhito Sugawara crew was the fourth to start off this day. While they demonstrated their strong performance finishing 3rd place in the first half of the SS, they came up against a car that was immobilized ahead of them midway through the second half. Since this was in a spot where both sides were flanked by ravines, it was impossible for them to overtake the car. The truck ended up having to wait for about 25 minutes, and due to this delay, had fallen back to 12th place by the time it reached the finish line. Organizers explain that they will be subtracting this lost time from Car 2’s clocked time, which means that standings and times listed here may potentially be revised when the official announcement comes out.
Mitsugu Takahashi said, ‘We travelled in the same area as yesterday, and navigation went well. I’m a bit relieved that the challenging sections are behind us.
Once they finished the SS, the crew travelled on a 463 km liaison to Arequipa?a drive that ended up being seven hours long due to traffic jams along the way?and arrived at the bivouac at around 9 pm. This bivouac, the last one in Peru, was set up in an intermountain area at an elevation of 2600 meters where the air was noticeably cooler. Tomorrow on Jan. 11, the last stage of the first half of the rally, teams will be crossing the border into Bolivia where a 312 km SS has been set up en route to the country’s capital city of La Paz.