Dakar Tour Tokyo:
The Japanese continue to write Dakar history


The legends of the Dakar (Shinozuka, Kazama, Sugawara),
the Japanese Dakar community comes together in Tokyo. / Credit: Masahiro Terada

Key points:

  • Japan is historically linked to the Dakar. The men and machines from the Land of the Rising Sun have left their indelible mark on the rally for the past 40 years.
  • On the Dakar Tour‘s latest stop, Japan rally-raid legends Shinji Kazama, Yoshimasa Sugawara  and Kenjirō Shinozuka recounted some of their fondest memories.
  • In addition to the sons of these legendary drivers, who will continue the family tradition in the stages, several newcomers are preparing their participation on the Dakar.

The Dakar Tour stopped in Tokyo for the presentation of the 2018 edition: a must do and much anticipated happening in the country whose men and machines have left their mark on the Dakar. In the run-up to the 40th edition, several generations of competitors attended the conference and discussed their experiences, their sporting activities and their desire to help write a new chapter in the rally’s history.

Shinji Kazama, the first Japanese participant on the Dakar in 1982 on a motorcycle, evoked his memories. In a video link-up from Okinawa where he is shooting his latest film, actor Shinnosuke Kazama, Shinji’s son, explained how his father passed on the passion for rallying and gave him the desire to make his childhood dream a reality. And that is what he did this year in taking part in his maiden Dakar in the motorcycle category (67th). And then there is the Sugawara family. The father, 76-year-old Yoshimasa Sugawara is among the Dakar elder statesmen with 34 participations. His son Teruhito Sugawara is well on his way to following in the tyre tracks of his father with already more than 15 Dakars to his credit! And of course, 1997 winner in a Mitsubishi, Kenjirō Shinozuka was also in attendance.

While the Japanese competitors have left their indelible mark on the Dakar, so have their machines and constructors: Mitsubishi, Yamaha, Toyota, HRC…, all of whom have enjoyed enormous success! This unique context encourages the next generation to give it a go. Thus, several riders have confirmed their preparation for the 2019 edition. Monma Takayuki, who has already experienced the Dakar as a mechanic with the Hino Team Sugawara, is now entered in the Merzouga Rally with the perspective of participating in the 2018 Dakar. The Dakar Tour has confirmed that the Japanese will contribute to the writing of new chapters of the Dakar history.