The team's two HINO500 Series trucks pass vehicle inspections without a glitch, and the team is geared up to begin the race on Jan. 2.
On Dec. 30, vehicle inspections and documentation reviews for Dakar Rally 2017 entrants were carried out at Asunción, the capital city of Paraguay. This is the first time the Dakar Rally will kick off from Paraguay, which borders Argentina on its northeastern border. Paraguay is the 29th country to host the Dakar Rally throughout its history, and the 5th in South America. Vehicle inspections and document reviews were carried out at an exhibition hall on the outskirts of the city, and given that it is mid-summer now in the region, the venue was steaming. The area was hit by sporadic squalls later in the afternoon, and vehicle inspections proceeded in a cheerful atmosphere that one would expect in South America.
HINO TEAM SUGAWARA will be fielding two HINO500 Series trucks in the rally, and has been carrying out final adjustments on its trucks and coordinating its team members at the Hino Argentina dealership on the outskirts of Buenos Aires since Dec. 20. The team arrived at Asunción on Dec. 29 after a drive of about 1200km. Vehicle inspections began after 4:00 pm, where officials extensively checked the vehicles for regulation compliance and safety equipment. The team's trucks passed the inspections without a glitch, and were then stored at the Parc-Fermes a few kilometers away. A ceremonial start is scheduled for Jan. 1 and will take place at a podium area situated near the president's official residence along the Paraguay River. All vehicles will then return to the Parc-Fermes for the day, and start off from Asunción early in the morning on Jan. 2. In any case, all Hino team staff members are in good physical condition, and the team is fully ready for the start of the 2017 race.
Yoshimasa Sugawara: We arrived on Dec. 13 to acclimatize ourselves to the time difference and climate. One concern is that Paraguay seems to get a lot of rain, but we are looking forward to delivering solid performance in the rally.
Mitsugu Takahashi: We have no concerns with our truck and we are both in good physical condition. It goes without saying that I'm nervous, but I can't wait to get started. That said, I was surprised with the amount of work we had to do for the inspections.
Teruhito Sugawara: The rain was pouring down. I'm quite sure that the timed segments in Paraguay for day-1 has been affected by this, so I'm a bit concerned about getting things right. Our truck is in tip top shape.
Hiroyuki Sugiura: There was a bit of confusion when the organizers made some changes to the specified GPS, but things have been sorted out now. Vehicles from Europe go through preliminary inspections when they are loaded onto the ferry, and since our trucks do not, the organizers typically spend plenty of time on our trucks, leaving no stone unturned.
Seiichi Suzuki: We didn't have to replace any major parts during our final adjustments, so we were able to complete that with some time to spare. That said, when you compare Paraguay with Buenos Aires, the summers here seem to be much muggier although they are on the same continent. That made working conditions that much more difficult.
Masaki Nakamura: The mechanics on this year's team joined the team for the Silk Way Rally as part of their pre-event training so they've already had time to build up their teamwork. That had to have been a great experience for them.
Hiroyuki Azuma (Hino Motors Fukushima): It has been my goal since I joined the company to make the Dakar Rally team as a mechanic, and after 10 years, I'm happy to have finally made the team.
Koji Nakamura (Hino Motors Ishikawa): The scale of the event is way beyond the Silk Way Rally. I'm pretty sure that there will be tough moments during the race, but I'm ready.
Junya Inoue (Hino Motors Okayama): I'm the first mechanic to make the team from Okayama. I was the one that expressed my intention to try out, but I'm also grateful for all the support I got from the people at my company.
Kenji Kunimoto (Hino Motors Hiroshima): We've been here for some time, so I'm over my jet lag now and feeling good. I'm excited now that the rally is about to start.
Kohei Shimazaki: I'm quite familiar with driving the assistance car in South America, but it's been a year since my last tour, so I intend to stay on my toes.
Koji Tanaka: We had the engine on our Hi-Lux assistance car serviced in France so it is driving really well. Inspections on the assistance cars are quite simple, but filing documents for our staff members tend to take quite a bit of time.
Ryu Takashima: My role in this rally is to travel with the team in the truck's passenger seat, and support the team primarily at the bivouacs. This is my first time on the rally team and I will be giving it all I have.