Yoshimasa Sugawara: A Legend of the Dakar Rally

Credit: Tsuyoshi Yamashita, Hino Global

At 82 years old, Yoshimasa Sugawara stands as a true icon in the realm of rally racing, particularly known for his unparalleled legacy in the Dakar Rally. With a career spanning from 1983 to 2019, Sugawara has navigated the challenging terrains of the world’s toughest rally with unmatched skill and determination, leaving an indelible mark on the motorsports landscape.

Sugawara’s journey in the Dakar Rally is nothing short of remarkable. The seasoned driver, with experience in rally motorcycles, cars, and trucks, recently concluded the 2024 Africa Eco Race, showcasing his enduring passion for the sport. Remarkably, he piloted his Suzuki JB64 Jimny to the finish line, demonstrating that age is no barrier to the pursuit of one’s dreams.

What sets Sugawara apart is his incredible record of thirty-six consecutive Dakar Rally entries, a feat that has etched his name into the annals of motorsports history. Furthermore, he holds the distinction of achieving an unparalleled 20 consecutive finishes, a testament to his skill, resilience, and unwavering commitment to the sport he loves. His extraordinary achievements have earned him official recognition from the Guinness World Records, solidifying his status as a living legend.

Yoshimasa Sugawara’s accolades extend beyond longevity, as he boasts an impressive collection of titles, including 7 in-class championships and 6 overall category runner-up awards. His mastery of various vehicles across the years showcases not only his versatility but also his ability to adapt to the ever-evolving challenges presented by the Dakar Rally.

Beyond the racetrack, Sugawara is not content to rest on his laurels. He channels his energy into initiatives that go beyond personal achievement. The veteran racer dedicates his efforts to spreading rally culture, fostering international exchanges, and nurturing the next generation of motorsports enthusiasts. Sugawara’s commitment to giving back to the community exemplifies his enduring love for the sport and his desire to see it flourish for generations to come.

In an era where the young often dominate the world of motorsports, Yoshimasa Sugawara’s enduring presence serves as an inspiration to all, proving that age is merely a number when it comes to pursuing one’s passion. As the Dakar Rally continues to captivate the hearts of motorsports enthusiasts globally, Sugawara’s legacy remains an enduring testament to the spirit of perseverance, skill, and sportsmanship that defines the true legends of the race.

Looking forward, Sugawara has recently made a notable shift in his choice of vehicle, opting for the Suzuki Jimny JB64 for his future races. This switch reflects not only his adaptability but also his continued eagerness to embrace new challenges and push the boundaries of what is achievable in the world of rally racing.