With only three days left till the finish line in Buenos Aires, both crews on Hino Team Sugawara’s HINO500 Series trucks continued their composed yet aggressive pace as the rally resumed on January 12 with the longest SS of the event.
The first half of the Stage 10 took racers 448km from Chilecito and San Juan, Argentina on an SS that challenged contestants with d navigation and off road terrain on dried riverbeds before transitioning to mountain roads at elevations of up to 3200m. The latter half, which was 185km long, was set on rough roads near San Juan.
The Teruhito Sugawara and Hiroyuki Sugiura Car 2 duo continued to deliver a solid performance despite a flat tyre after the checkpoint. The loss of air was gradual so the crew raced on by replenishing air with their CTIS (Central Tire Inflation System), finishing the first SS at 7th spot and maintaining the lead in the Under 10-litre Class.
“While navigation in the early part of the SS was quite difficult, we were able to complete it error-free and I think this was one of the reasons we were able to pass CP1 in 4th place,” commented Car 2 driver Teruhito Sugawara. Car 2 navigator, Hiroyuki Sugiura added, “This was the first long stage in a little while?one that gave you a real sense that you were racing the Dakar Rally?and I must admit that it was tiring. Everyone was being pulled towards the dust kicked up by vehicles ahead of them and that made navigation much more difficult.”
Meanwhile, the Yoshimasa Sugawara and Mitsugu Takahashi crew on Car 1 inched their way up in standings. Although they also encountered a flat, the crew worked hard to reduce any time loss by waiting for the neutral zone to change their tire. Car 1 finished at 23rd overall and second in the Under 10-litre Class.
Contestants are scheduled to race a 288km SS en route to the last bivouac of the rally in Rio Cuarto, Argentina on January 13. The first part of the SS will feature dunes and contestants will not have the luxury of putting down their guards for the entire stage.