This rally presented a “landscapes no one has ever seen” theme and the finding of new routes for it took over a year. The weather during the rally itself was extremely good however the heavy downpours in Hanggai just before the rally caused a huge rise in water levels in valleys and gullies leading to cancellation of the SS for Etap 5. Driving along paved roads in good weather was in one sense a fresh experience. The cancellation notice given the night before the SS allowed taking action such as moving up tire changing times. Anyway, the new trials and experiences encountered along the entire course were a huge success. The new course changes this year allowed us to enter areas that were difficult to include in the route up to now. During the drive, by the time we started thinking, “Okay, let’s go meet some moose and reindeer” and “back to dinosaur valley” the ZoonMod plan was already taking effect! The next rally may likely take a route in the form of a big circle joining the northernmost and southernmost areas. That feeling of “we’re going to find something we never saw before” is likely to continue. Finally, both the participants and rally officials felt the same thing, namely that the route this year helped us enjoy the real beauty our planet has to offer!
We are now in the final stage of our long battle. Last year on this day the Hino Team had to retire and you can guess that today will bring a lot of trouble. Teruhito Sugawara and the Hino Ranger racing truck who didn’t arrive from the Silk Way Rally from Russia in time for this year’s Rally Mongolia, came in today in a show of support. A low morning fog rolls over the sand dunes creating a unique almost mystical scene.
All vehicles rush toward the dunes in a headlong attack.
Finally they reach their goal which is the afternoon victory parade in Ulan Bator (Ulaanbaatar). The KTM450 Rally bikes rank 1, 2, 3, 4 at the goal standing. Many cars however have had to retire but the Yoshimasa Sugawara/Yoko Wakayashi team in their Yamaha YXZ1000R held on to win their place on the victory stand. They are the only Japanese to participate in the champagne fight at the conclusion of this rally. The curtain finally closes quietly on this battle held over the Mongolian grasslands and all come for tonight’s closing ceremony.
「Sunday—the day of our victorious return」
The rally SS starts from the bivouac. The cars take off and enter the dunes. After getting through the dunes they proceed along the riverside. The dunes and river and grass plain all overlap into an astounding visual frame. This splendid spectacle is very likely something you will only get to see in Mongolia. We make constant CAP adjustments during the drive and cross over pistes. We pass over a number of small smooth green hills and cross a bridge. There before us is the old main piste. The old main piste somehow has a sad desolate look to it because of the paved road built there. We gradually veer away from alongside the old main piste and the course reveals continual smoothly sloping beautiful green mountains. After passing over a number of mountains we see a small town right before our eyes. That is the SS finish point. We drive along the paved road to the regroupment point. There the SM class will join along with us for parade to the goal.