Hino continued its amazing run of finishes in the gruelling Dakar Rally when a four-wheel drive 500 Series with a diesel-electric hybrid powertrain finished 10th in the 45th running of the world’s toughest motor sport event.
The event took place in Saudi Arabia for the third time between 31 December and 15 January. This was the 26th time that a Hino truck has finished in the top 10 in this challenging rally-raid.
Hino was again the only Japanese truck manufacturer to enter the demanding two-week event which included far more daunting sand dunes than ever before and took a heavy toll on competitors.
The singleton Hino, entered by the Hino Sugawara Team with its all-Japanese crew of Teruhito Sugawara (driver), Hirokazu Somemiya (co-driver) and Yuji Mochizuki (mechanic), finished 10th out of an original field of 56 trucks.
It also won the class for trucks with engines under 10 litres in capacity. Only 22 trucks qualified as finishers in the 2023 Dakar Rally, which was considered one of the toughest to date.
This was Teruhito Sugawara’s 23rd Dakar Rally, 16 of them as a driver and five as co-driver to his father. He has now completed the under 10-litre class 14 times. His highest position was second place in 2001.
Hino has taken part in every Dakar Rally since 1991 with a best result being a clean sweep of the first three positions overall in 1997. The reliability record it has built up over 31 Dakar Rallies is that at least one Hino has finished the rally each year it has taken part.
This year’s entry was a much-improved version of the Hino diesel-electric hybrid truck that raced in the 2022 Dakar Rally where it finished 22nd on debut. The truck is a bonneted 600 Series of the type sold in North America. Under the skin it is similar to the four-wheel drive version of the 500 Series, which has been a strong seller in South Africa for many years.
This year’s Dakar Rally started in Sea Camp on the shores of the Red Sea on 31 December and finished on 15 January in Dammam on the other side of the Arabian Peninsula. The route of 8 549 km included 4 706 km of timed special stages, made up of a prologue and then 14 days of racing.
This was the fourth time that the Dakar has been staged in Saudi Arabia and the weather was again unsettled during the 15 days of the event. This resulted in cancellations of sections of the route due to heavy rain and flooding.
The truck was generally very reliable but suffered a setback on the 12th day when it had a crash in the sand dunes, causing substantial damage to the bodywork. Fortunately, the service crew, which included mechanics from several Hino dealerships in Japan, could make the necessary repairs to keep the truck in the race.
“The route was tough right to the end, and this was the most difficult of all the Dakar’s in which I have participated either as a driver or navigator,” commented the Hino driver, Teruhito Sugawara, at the podium ceremony in Dammam.