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Mitsubishi Dakar Rally Contender Goes Diesel

Following in the footsteps of Audi’s Le Mans winning R10 TDI, Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart is now going diesel with the cross country rally debut of the new Pajero Evolution.

The Pajero (better known as the Shogun in the UK) Evolution is cross-country rallying’s most successful car with a record 12 Dakar wins to its name since 1985, and the major new feature of the team’s 2008 programme is the introduction of a turbo-diesel version of the 2,997cc V6 powerplant.

The three-litre 260bhp diesel is a derivative of the existing petrol engine. The capacity of three litres was chosen as it offered the best compromise between performance and weight, and it’s mated to a five-speed gearbox.

Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart says it is taking a lead with its environmentally responsible approach to its competition activities in association with its key partners, Repsol, Valeo and BFGoodrich. Osamu Nakayama, MMSP SAS’s new president, says: “Now, our motor sports activity has taken a step up to establish the environmentally-friendly engineering strategy of Mitsubishi Motors.”

There is the suggestion that Repsol will be looking to eventually power the Pajero with non-food sourced biodiesel. The Michelin Group – which owns the BFGoodrich brand – says that its ongoing research into low rolling resistance tyres has benefited the competition programmes of partners such as Mitsubishi. And the Pajero has advanced Valeo low energy LED front and rear lighting systems which are said to contribute to fuel savings.

Mitsubishi is intending to enter three events during the first half of 2008. “Our 2008 programme has been tailored to prepare for our new challenge which is to contest the 2009 Dakar with our new diesel-engined car,” says Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Director Dominique Serieys. “Our schedule will initially take us to three events: the inaugural Central Europe Rally (Hungary and Romania), the Transiberico (Portugal) and the Baja Espana (Spain).

The Central Europe Rally is the first event to qualify for the newly-created Dakar Series and starts in Budapest, Hungary, on Sunday April 20. It features about 2,600km of route, including about 1,100km divided into seven special stages in Hungary and Romania. The stages range in length from 100 to 320km and the seven-day rally finishes on the shores of Hungary’s Lake Balaton on Saturday April 26.

The 2009 ‘Dakar’ breaks new ground with a start and finish in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a rest-day in Valparaiso on Chile’s Pacific coast.