Ten stages, over 5.5 thousand km to the finish line – this is what the participants of the 41st edition of the Dakar Rally will have to deal with tomorrow. Among the contenders competing for the title of the best truck driver is a 78-year-old Japanese Yoshimasa Sugawara.
Between Sugawara and the youngest driver competing in the truck category – 27-year-old Belorussian Aliaksej Vishneuski is over fifty years of difference. And although such a generation gap may be surprising, there is no doubt that experience speaks for the Japanese. Sugawara is a veteran of the Dakar Rally. In his long career, he stood on the podium seven times, but never managed to get the first place. He started in 1983 in the category of motorcycles, but after a few years, he switched to trucks. This year, Sugawara will fight for victory in the Hino truck.
The truck race is the most interesting for me because of all the modifications introduced over the years and because trucking is very interesting. My calendar for the whole year revolves around this one race,” explains Sugawara in an interview.
He tried to convey his love for trucks and the competition to his son Teruhito Sugawara who took part in Dakar in 1999 for the first time. He was a father’s pilot. After some time, the young man decided to compete separately in the competition. This year they will once again compete on the route of the race.
Over 500 participants will compete against each other in five categories – cars, motorcycles, quads, UTV vehicles and trucks. In the last category, 41 teams with two or three crew members (driver, pilot and mechanic) take part.
The biggest contender for the first place is last year’s winner – Russian Eduard Nikolaev. Together with Evgenie Iakovl and Vladimir Rybakov, they will drive in a KAMAZ truck. Let us remind you that it was Nikolaev who demonstrated the capabilities of his 9-ton truck in the Mazda race drift not so long ago. Will he be racing freely on sandy terrain? We will find out already on Monday – January 7, when the first stage begins.
For the first time in history, the rally will take place in one country. This year, Peru was chosen. Both the start of the race and the finish line were located in Lima. The competition will cover ten stages during which competitors will have to cross over 5.5 thousand km.
The winners of the entire Dakar Rally will be known on January 17.