- Dakar Rally 2023 concludes all 15 days of competition
The Dakar Rally 2023 concluded on January 15th with the final SS (competition segment) of 138 km between Hofuf and Dammam, Saudi Arabia. The 15-day event came to a close with the finish line at the King Abdullah Cultural Center (ITHRA) on the outskirts of Dammam City.
The HINO TEAM SUGAWARA crew of Teruhito Sugawara, Hirokazu Somemiya, and Yuji Mochizuki, driving a HINO 600 Series truck equipped with a hybrid system, completed this SS at 21st overall in the Trucks category, and their accumulated ranking of 10th overall in this category was confirmed.
The SS for this day started near the border with Qatar, 167 km from the bivouac in Al Hofuf by liaison (travel section). The route followed the coast along the Persian Gulf northward toward Dammam. Most of the road surface was sandy, and starting with a twisty section in the beginning, off-road and navigation complicated sections appeared. The HINO 600 stopped midway due to a fuel leak from a fuel line. Emergency repairs took about 20 minutes, and the water temperature subsequently rose, resulting in a loss of about 30 minutes as cooling water had to be replenished. Other than that, the race went smoothly, with the hybrid system functioning as it arrived at the goal.
The HINO Team then traveled on a 100 km liaison to the city of Dammam, arriving at the finish line ceremony site at around 5:00 pm. The Team climbed onto the podium with a large “koinobori” (carp streamer) and responded to the cheers of the spectators by waving their hands, bringing the 15 days of competition in this year's event to an end.
The event was held in Saudi Arabia for the fourth year in a row, and the weather was unsettled throughout the event, resulting in cancellations and shortening of the course due to flooding. In recent years, the course setting has become more difficult, probably due to the consideration of light buggy vehicles, which account for the majority of the races. Under these circumstances, HINO TEAM SUGAWARA's HINO 600 series has improved its running pace thanks to the aging of the suspension. Although the Team often scored a single finish in the SS, troubles such as the engine water temperature rise and the hybrid system frequently occurred from the middle stage. On the 12th, the truck suffered a crash in the sand dunes, but each time, the experienced crew and mechanics who continued to work all night played an active role. Thanks to the Team's efforts and overall strength, the Team reached the finish line in 10th place overall in the truck division.
Teruhito Sugawara: In the last SS of the day, we also had to stop due to a fuel leak. From the beginning, we had a series of problems, including minor ones, and after the water temperature began to rise, I worried every morning about whether the engine would start properly. The course was amazing, and I think this has been the most difficult year for us so far.
Hirokazu Somemiya: We had various troubles, but navigation went well. Today, there were many GPS points in the off-road in the second half of the day, and we could not cover them. Yuji Mochizuki, the onboard mechanic, played an active role in this competition.
Yuji Mochizuki: I am glad that I was able to participate in this rally considering the company's scandal. I wanted to achieve good results, but so many things happened.
Source Hino Team Sugawara