Multiple Dakar Rally champion Team Hino Sugawara has begun extensive preparations for next year’s Dakar Rally with mechanical upgrades and a thorough shakedown period that includes competing in Rally Mongolia.
Members of Team Hino Sugawara and Hino Motors’ vehicle development and fabrication teams completed the modifications and the initial shakedown testing of the Hino 500 Series Car 2 at one of Hino Motors’ multiple test courses in Japan.
Immediately after the shakedown Car 2 was shipped to Mongolia, where the team is continuing its extended shakedown as part of its push to finish higher in the overall Dakar Rally 2016 rankings and secure its seventh straight class championship.
During the shakedown period the team upgraded the vehicle’s taper leaf springs and coil-over shock absorbers - components that were fitted on all four wheels for the first time at Dakar Rally 2015.
This year’s set-up uses only two leaves per side for the front suspension and one for the rear suspension to reduce friction and minimise resistance between the leaf springs, providing smooth and predictable suspension strokes.
Coil springs are now fitted to paired shock absorbers supporting each wheel which compensate for the lower spring rates of the new leaf spring setup. Coil springs are easier to replace than leaf springs and the team will now carry different rate coil springs so they can alter suspension settings to suit the different track conditions encountered during the Dakar Rally.
The team will be perfecting its suspension settings, which involve complex interplay between leaf springs, coil springs and shock absorbers, during Rally Mongolia 2015.
Hino Team Sugawara claimed its sixth successive under 10-litre class victory at the 2015 Dakar Rally.
Father and son team drivers Yoshimasa and Teruhito Sugawara came in second and first positions (respectively) in class at the gruelling event for the second year running.
Their results placed Teruhito in 16th and Yoshimasa 32nd overall for trucks, from a field of 43.