Hino Team Sugawara
Chairman japan racing management and driver of truck #521
Why and how did you participate in your very first Dakar Rally in 1983?
“My dream has always been to become a 4 wheels professional racing driver. But in the 80’s when looking for sponsors I realized it was much less expensive to participate to the Dakar with a motorcycle – 20 000 USD at that time – and decided to take the plunge for the 1983 edition!”
You now hold a Guinness World Record for competing in the Dakar Rally for 35 consecutive events. Tell us more about it!
“After two participations with Honda bike (1983 & 1984) I switched from 2 to 4 wheels in 1985 thanks to Mitsubishi and Pioneer. Indeed, at that time, the off-road car market was growing a lot and Mitsubishi realized Dakar became the best racing event for showcasing the quality of their cars. Pioneer automatically joined the project as main sponsor and requested a Japanese driver. My dream came true thanks to these two brands! Sept years later I felt I was ready for a new challenge and moved from car to truck category! 2018 is my 27th consecutive year with Hino truck already!”
Why do you have “koi carp” flags on all your vehicles? That's quite unusual at Dakar!
“One day, in 1985, I got lost in the bivouac and it took me a while to find my car. Since that day I started to look for a strong symbol to be fixed on the roof of the vehicle and finally decided to use the famous Japanese koi carp. As you might know, in Japan, every year we celebrate the koi carp on the 5th of may for wishing better future and health to boys. This symbol was absolutely perfect! In Africa some people said I was thte first to bring fish to the desert!
This symbol is also the best way to involve people that support us! One Koi Carp has been signed by every single Hino factory employee and another one by our fans during Tokyo Autoshow.”
What is your best memory at Dakar?
“Several years ago, while racing in Africa, we had to cross a forest. The navigation was extremely tricky but we managed to take the right path. At the bivouac I was extremely surprised when a French co-driver came to thank me. At the start I didn’t really understand why but he explained that he and his pilot go lost in the forest and thanks to the koi carp I lost in a tree they could finally exit the forest and arrive the bivouac!”