Hino has entered two all-wheel drive trucks in the 2020 Dakar Rally, the 42nd in the series and the first to take place in Saudi Arabia. This will be the 28th consecutive year that Hino has entered the Dakar, and it remains the only Japanese truck in the field for this gruelling test of man and machine.
In 2020 there will be 47 trucks in the field, and the crews will face very different terrain from what they have been used to in the 12 years that the Dakar has been staged in South America.
The 2020 Dakar starts in Jeddah on 5 January, ending in Qiddiya on 17 January. The rest day is on 11 January in Riyadh. The route of 7500km includes 5000km of special timed stages, and 75% of the rally will be over sand. Five of the stages are longer than 450km.
Hino will be aiming for an 11th successive win in its class – for trucks with engines of less than 10 litres capacity. In addition, there is huge pressure on the team to finish the event, as there has been at least one Hino truck at the finish in every Dakar that Hino has contested in the past.
Hino will mount a two-pronged attack in 2020 with two very different looking trucks. One, the 500 Series, has the usual forward control cab as sold in South Africa, while the second, a 600 Series, is a bonneted version that is sold only in the United States. The latter truck has a weight penalty of 250kg versus the SA-style model, which weighs 7950kg.
Both trucks are powered by 9-litre, turbocharged, 6-cylinder engines producing 750bhp (550kW) and 2300Nm of torque. The 500 Series uses a 6-speed manual gearbox while the 600 Series is fitted with a 6-speed automatic transmission with a torque converter. There are transfer boxes providing a choice of high or low ratios, as well as a locking centre differential. Fuel tank capacity is 760 litres.
The trucks are improved versions of those raced in the Silk Way Rally earlier this year.
Both trucks will have three-man crews this year, after having had two-man crews for the past several Dakar Rallies. Each crew consists of a driver, navigator, and mechanic. The team has also increased the number of technicians and support crew.
The team is once again entered as Hino Team Sugawara, but Yoshimasa Sugawara, who directed the team for the past 30 years, has retired from driving after contesting 35 consecutive Dakars. He started on a motorcycle in 1983 and subsequently rode quads and cars before moving to Hino trucks in 1992 when the race finished in Cape Town.
Yoshimasa’s son, Teruhito, will now be the No. 1 driver in the 500 Series and also the team director. He has competed in 21 Dakar Rallies already and only finished out of the top 15 overall twice in the time that he has been a driver. He previously navigated for his father.
Teruhito will be accompanied by Yuji Mochiyuki and Hirozaku Somemiya. The 600 Series truck will be driven by Ikuo Hanawa, with Yudai Hanawa and Mayumi Kezuka sitting alongside him.
The field of 47 trucks for the 2020 Dakar Rally consists of 13 MAN, eight Iveco, five Renault, five DAF, four Kamaz, three Tatra, three MAZ, two Hino, two Mercedes-Benz, and one each Unimog and Praga.