Car 2 piloted by Terahito Sugawara
A major rainstorm hit a village along today’s Stage 8 route triggering major mudslides and making it impossible for any vehicles, including Hino team trucks, to drive through, delivering another setback for this year’s race that has been plagued by inclement weather.
Organizers instructed all contestants to take a 200km detour across the Andes, but it was reported that even this diversion would be difficult to pass for larger vehicles and vehicles without all-wheel drive, causing major delays. As of 10:00pm, not a single rally vehicle had arrived at the Salta, Argentina bivouac, which remained eerily deserted.
January 10 was the second day of the marathon stage where contestants were scheduled to race a 492km SS from Uyuni, Bolivia to Salta, but organizers had to make major changes again due to the weather. Racers were instead redirected to a 171km SS assistance route at 4000m where they battled dunes and transitioned to wide-open parallel pistes (areas with numerous parallel unpaved roads) where they were finally able to show off their speed before taking them on mountain roads to the SS finish.
Car 2 crewed by Teruhito Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura finished at 14th place overall and top in the Under 10-litre Class in this short but challenging SS. Car 1 finished at 31st overall and second in the class. While these standings were strictly preliminary as of this writing, they demonstrate how Hino Team Sugawara is closing in on the performance of the leading group in the trucks category.
Organizers have announced that they will be canceling the SS for January 11 due to rain once again. Competition will resume on January 12 on the way from Chilecito to San Juan, Argentina.