• The Dakar Rally: Our Story

    To understand our deep connection to the Dakar Rally, the toughest rally in the world, you need to hear a few numbers. For example, in 26 entries over 24 years, Mitsubishi Motors won a total of 12 times. Incredibly, we took seven consecutive victories on the Dakar. Here’s an opportunity for you to read about our winning rally cars and to have a peak behind the scenes at what really goes on during the heat of competition. Prepare to be amazed!
  • 1985






    1985 - Mitsubishi's first Dakar victory

    This is where Mitsubishi Motors’ heritage on the world's greatest off-road rally began. A trio of Pajeros piloted by Andrew Cowan, Patrick Zaniroli and Bernard Béguin contested the 1985 Dakar. Frenchman Zaniroli gave the team the first of its record-breaking 12 victories. Andrew Cowan finished second.

    1992 - The most successful Dakar to date

    The organisers made significant changes to the route of the 1992 Dakar and the event finished in Cape Town, South Africa, for the first and only time in its history. The event also turned out to be the most successful one to date for Mitsubishi Motors, with victory going to Frenchman Hubert Auriol. He was joined on the podium by teammates Erwin Weber of Germany – a Dakar rookie – and Kenjiro Shinozuka.

    1993 - Third Mitsubishi victory by Bruno Saby

    Five official cars were entered in 1993, with Frenchman Bruno Saby joining Kenjiro Shinozuka, Erwin Weber, Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Spain’s Salvador Servia. Mitsubishi Motors took its third outright victory, courtesy of Saby and co-driver Dominique Serieys, the team's Race Director at Pont de Vaux, France. Weber and Shinozuka were fourth and fifth.





    1998  2001

    1997 - The Mitsubishi Motors' team dominated

    The 1997 event started and finished in Dakar. Mitsubishi Motors’ team dominated from the outset to win for the fourth time. The team filled the top four places in the overall classification, with Kenjiro Shinozuka claiming his first win, which was also the first win at Dakar for a Japanese driver. Jean-Pierre Fontenay, Bruno Saby and Hiroshi Masuoka followed him over the line. 

    1998 - A successful season

    The event returned to a traditional Paris start in 1998 and attracted a 173-car entry. Bruno Saby, Kenjiro Shinozuka, Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Hiroshi Masuoka were joined by the former French skier Luc Alphand. Fontenay clinched the team's fifth outright victory, as teammates Shinozuka, Saby and Masuoka filled the remaining three podium positions. To cap a successful season, the team also won the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup for the first time.

    2001 - First woman ever wins the Dakar

    Jean-Pierre Fontenay, Kenjiro Shinozuka, Jutta Kleinschmidt, Hiroshi Masuoka, Carlos Sousa and David Prieto tackled the 2001 event for Mitsubishi Motors. The rally soon developed into a battle between Mitsubishi Motors, Nissan and Schlesser. Kleinschmidt became the first woman ever to win the Dakar, after teammate Masuoka lost time in Senegal and dropped to second place. Sousa and Fontenay were fifth and sixth. It was Mitsubishi Motors' sixth outright win in the Dakar Rally.





    2003 2004

    2002 - Mitsubishi filled nine of the top 10 places

    The 2002 event began in Arras, northern France and Mitsubishi Motors entered Pajeros/Monteros for Jean-Pierre Fontenay, Kenjiro Shinozuka, Jutta Kleinschmidt, Hiroshi Masuoka, Carlos Sousa and Luc Alphand. Mitsubishi Motors’ runners claimed nine of the 15 stages and took a second consecutive victory, courtesy of Masuoka's maiden success. Mitsubishi Motors completed a rout of the top 10, with Pajeros/Monteros filling nine of the top 10 places. Kleinschmidt and Shinozuka were second and third. 

    2003 - First Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution to win Dakar

    The 2003 event began in Marseille, France, and finished in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh. Mitsubishi Motors fielded a pair of new Mitsubishi Pajero Evolutions for Frenchman Stéphane Peterhansel and Hiroshi Masuoka, plus two traditional Pajeros/Monteros for Jean-Pierre Fontenay and Massimo Biasion. Peterhansel charged into what appeared to be an unassailable lead, only to hit trouble on the penultimate stage in Egypt, which ended with him handing a second consecutive victory to Masuoka. It was also the team's third successive win and its eighth Dakar success in total. Masuoka was joined on the podium by Fontenay and Peterhansel.

    2004 - Stéphane Peterhansel claims the victory

    Former biker Stéphane Peterhansel made up for the previous year’s disappointment by clinching a comfortable maiden victory on four wheels on the 2004 Dakar rally. This gave the new four-litre V6 Pajero/Montero Evolution a second successive win and Mitsubishi Motors' ninth in total. Peterhansel also became the second competitor after Hubert Auriol to have won the event on both two and four wheels. 





    2006 2007

    2005 - Mitsubishi's 10th Dakar victory

    In its bid to claim a record breaking 10th Dakar victory, the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Studios Team entered five cars for the 2005 Telefónica Dakar Rally, which started in Barcelona for the first time and finished in Dakar. Stéphane Peterhansel and Luc Alphand emerged in front once the event headed into Mauritania and clinched the five fastest stage times on their way to a convincing one-two win for Mitsubishi Motors. The success marked Mitsubishi Motors' fifth successive Dakar triumph and a second win for Peterhansel in a Mitsubishi. Alphand took a personal best second overall and Dakar team debutant Joan ‘Nani’ Roma was sixth. Andrea Mayer and Jean Michel Polato piloted the L200 pick-up in which Andrea finished 10th overall in Rallye Orpi Maroc. 

    2006 - Luc Alphand's maiden Dakar victory

    Stéphane Peterhansel, Joan ‘Nani’ Roma, Luc Alphand and Hiroshi Masuoka lined up for the start of the 2006 Dakar Rally in Lisbon, Portugal, with the latest version of the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution MPR12 looking for a sixth successive victory in the African classic. Peterhansel took command as the event reached Mauritania but damaged his suspension soon afterwards. Alphand inherited the lead and held on to it to the finish to clinch his maiden Dakar victory and Mitsubishi Motors’ eleventh in total. Roma finished third and Peterhansel recovered to take fourth place, although Masuoka crashed out of the event in Morocco. 

    2007 - 7th Mitsubishi victory in a row

    In addition to Mitsubishi Motors’ continuing test and development programme with the Pajero/Montero MPR13, the 2007 cross country rally season brought the team further success as Stéphane Peterhansel took the laurels ahead of Joan ‘Nani’ Roma (2nd) on the Baja España, as well as his fourth win for Mitsubishi Motors in the UAE Desert Challenge. He followed this up with the team’s 12th, and his third, win in the Dakar.



    The Pajero has been contesting the Dakar rally for more than 25 years. Its first outing came in 1983, when it finished a highly creditable 11th place overall. Then, in 1985, a Pajero won the Dakar outright, marking the start of Mitsubishi Motors’ dominance of the African classic. To date, the Pajero remains the most successful vehicle in the history of the Dakar.
    Sharing much of the sophisticated four-wheel drive technology of its big brother Pajero, the Mitsubishi L200 has proven to be a tough and durable competitor in the Dakar. A strong chassis has given the Mitsubishi L200 the ability to absorb the punishment meted out by such a gruelling event, and a powerful engine delivers the required performance. 




    Mitsubishi Motors developed the Pajero Evolution MPR10 when the Super Production car regulations for Dakar came into force in 2002. The Evolution, much as its name implies, has been steadily developed over the years and has enjoyed huge success on the Dakar, with victory over five consecutive years. By 2005, the Evolution MPR12 was a formidable challenger, with a 250L fuel tank mounted in the rear to give perfect 50:50 weight distribution. As a measure of just how tough the MPR12 was, some of the suspension parts could endure temperatures of up to 200 degrees Celsius.

    The MPR13 of 2007 was a significantly upgraded version of the preceding model, with an all-new multi-tubular frame structure. To achieve an even lower centre of gravity, both the fuel tank and spare wheel were located lower down. Wider front and rear tracks, along with revised suspension geometry, enhanced high-speed stability and manoeuvrability.

    The MPR14 took the Pajero Evolution to new heights with the introduction of diesel power. The MPR14’s 3.0L 260bhp diesel offers the best compromise between weight and power. This potent and efficient engine benefits from Mitsubishi Motors' longstanding expertise in the field of advanced diesel technologies, ranging from low compression ratios to high-pressure fuel injection.
    The Racing Lancer is Mitsubishi Motors’ latest cross country rally car, which has been designed to take onboard the new Super Production regulations for Dakar when they come into force in 2010. Sporting a silhouette inspired by the Lancer Sportback 5-door sports hatch, Racing Lancer uses a powerful 280bhp V6 turbodiesel developed by Mitsubishi Motors. A sophisticated suspension features double wishbones and coil springs at both ends, and with a lightweight multi-tubular frame, Racing Lancer is both agile and fast. In other words, a worthy successor to the great Mitsubishi Motors rally machines that preceded it. 



    In order to prepare our cars as much as possible, Mitsubishi Motors undertakes test sessions in the sort of harsh conditions that our cars will encounter in competition. In preparation for the Dakar, for example, we completed thousands of kilometres of testing in Morocco. During the summer months, when we routinely test for events like the Dakar, temperatures in Morocco can get up to a daytime average of 40 degrees Celsius. That sort of extreme condition, combined with a surface of fine sand, gives our technicians a clear idea of how the cars will handle the heat and dust of the real thing. It also gives our drivers a hint of what’s to come, and how best to deal with unimaginably extreme conditions.  There is no computer simulation that can prepare a car and driver for the reality of an event like the Dakar rally. Over the thousands of miles, there is no way of predicting precisely what forces the car will be subjected to. The permutations of potential impacts and stresses are virtually limitless, so the data that is collected during the course of an event is priceless. Using the experience of a real rally event allows us to return to base and analyse the stresses and strains, which in turn enable us to design a better solution for the next race. We’ve been doing this for more than 25 years with tremendous success, and the results of our efforts are some of the strongest cars ever to take on the Dakar.



    Bodywork days-in-the-cockpit  fondacion-dakar-solidario 

    Quite apart from its technical components, a rally car must also look good. Pascal Monin is a panel beater and spray-painter for the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team. He goes into some detail: “We are responsible for all the body parts for the construction of the racing cars and also all the spare body parts for cross country rally raids. Our work begins at the MMSP workshop at Pont de Vaux with the cutting out, the preparation, the assembly and the painting of all the bodies. We see to all the finishing of the cars. For example, we use about 100 litres of paint to prepare for a Dakar rally. We paint the outside of the car: from the front hood to the rear hood, and from the front to the rear fenders, etc. We use different colours; we can use 4 tints of green, orange, white and the traditional Mitsubishi Motors red. Only the markings of the partners are stuck on.”

    “On a Dakar there are four panel beaters instead of the seven at the workshop. Under racing conditions we need to be versatile. We have at least three spare body parts for each Racing Lancer when we set off on a Dakar rally. It’s often even a question of a set of four spare parts. We had to do a lot of repairing during the 2009 edition of the Dakar rally. Only the bumper corners at the front of the car are disposable and we throw them away after they have been used. We always keep the rest because we can put everything back into shape. We are equipped to do repairs on site. I am proud of our work...”

    Every day’s stage is different and so are the events of the race. Everything is calculated so that each crew has the supplies it needs to spend long hours in the cockpits of their cars.

    At breakfast every morning the drivers and co-drivers collect their rations, a bag with food and a bottle of water. They keep this near them so that they can access them at the most opportune moment, usually during liaisons or at the side of the track when they have a car problem. This bag holds a cereal bar, fruit, bread, tinned food, etc.

    But it is even more important in a trial like this to drink enough water; so two-litre camelbacks are fixed behind the crewmembers’ seats with a tube tied to their harness. With a simple movement of the head, this enables them to drink as much as they need as well as when it suits them.

    It is more difficult to urinate. Depending on the classification of the cars, they are allowed more or less time to stop at the side of the road to urinate. But those who are playing to win often wear adult nappies. Apologies to the fastidious, but every second counts.

    The president of the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team, Osamu Nakayama, was invited to donate medical supplies and equipment to the Copiapo hospital, accompanied by the initiator of this charitable action, Dr. Javier Mir. A well known doctor in Barcelona, Dr. Javier Mir has accompanied the Dakar and organised meetings with different hospitals along the route covered.

    This big-hearted doctor likes to help the countries covered by the Dakar as much as he can. This entails a lot of logistics and someone works on it all year round. In order to do things properly, the association “Fondacion Dakar Solidario” gets in touch with the different countries covered to obtain information about needy hospitals at all the places where the Dakar stops. After tons of paperwork and the necessary agreements, the medical supplies and equipment decided upon is imported in the support trucks for the Dakar.

    For example, when they stopped at Copiapo, Dr. Javier Mir’s team donated sterilisers for medical instruments. “Each hospital has different needs. We once donated an incubator because they couldn’t buy one,” says Dr. Javier Mir. “During the course of the year we collect funds from sponsors or charity sales and then we buy the material they need.”

    There are several of these charitable initiatives and some of them also donate material to schools.




    car-technician workshop-head environmental-impact 

    “I am the temporary head of the electrical department of the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team.

    We are a small team of four and see to the electrical installations of the racing cars. This year we did all the wiring of the consoles and all the bundles for the first concept car. The four other cars were contracted out so that they would be ready in time for Dakar 2009.

    On a trial like Dakar, we check all the connections each evening without disconnecting them, just by eye. When the crews of the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team come in after a special they debrief us on what has happened during the day so that we can get straight to the point.

    A dashboard console represents about a month of cabling work and 300 metres of wire. In a meeting we decide on the profile of the console and set up a scheme to which we adhere. For 70% of the time we work together with the electronics department because we see to all the contacts. The wiring goes from the battery of the car to the console, the brain of the vehicle, and then goes to the engine, the two front and back lights, the windscreen wipers etc. In total we use 600 metres of wiring for the bundles and the console.

    After 23 years of experience with the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team, we try not to make any mistakes when we put all this together. Electrical systems and electronics have evolved enormously from the early years to the present. Nowadays it’s very complicated to design the electrical and electronic components of a racing car. We have been able to adapt and learn in the course of time. If I had stayed at the level of my car electrician’s diploma, I would never have been able to work on a car like the Racing Lancer.”

    “My role is to organise the work in the workshop and to coordinate the different professional groups. Of course, this requires complete cooperation between the services so that work schedules can be carried out in time and at the right time. We have built five new Racing Lancer chassis and all had to be ready for Dakar 2009.

    My work during a Dakar is a continuation of my work in the office. I have to organise and train the teams for the four racing cars. So we have three mechanics, one electrician and one storekeeper for each Racing Lancer.

    Following a problem with Peterhansel’s car on the 2009 Dakar, for example, the mechanics and engineers would all first work on their own cars and when they finished would help out with the car that suffered the most damage. That was a night’s work and we took a decision on how to carry the work out once we determined the nature of the damage. As we have a complete crew I prefer to stay in the background and not get in the way of the guys. There are enough of them, and they are sufficiently competent to deal with it. I concentrated on checking up and making sure that everything is done correctly and that nothing is missing.”

    Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team took a range of measures to reduce its environmental impact for the 2009 Dakar. The competing Racing Lancers feature advanced diesel technology, including high-pressure injection and low compression ratios. Green plastic was employed for several components, including high-frequency consumption parts as front bumper corners, mud guards, etc. Through motor sports activities, Mitsubishi Motors will work not only to push the limits of speed and endurance, but also to develop environment-friendly technologies. Discoveries made in competition push the development of production vehicles. Mitsubishi Motors is therefore undertaking programs that are aimed at minimising the negative effects of our vehicles, at every step in their lifecycle.

    As the connection between cars, society and the environment becomes clearer, Mitsubishi Motors stands ready to clear a path to a new era in sustainable partnership. We will develop a next generation compact SUV that will leapfrog global environmental standards while still delivering the driving pleasure Mitsubishi Motors is famous for. We seek to forge in our new cars a true synergy between dynamic and environmental performance. We believe that our technology and our passion for driving will help us lead the way to a new future for motoring.






    The visual and dramatic feast that is Dakar attracted French television from the very beginning. Soon after, Dakar fever swept the world and it is currently broadcast in an astonishing 189 countries. The beauty of the landscapes being crossed, coupled with the exciting adventures of the competitors, makes the Dakar rally a perfect event to follow by television, internet, radio or newspaper. Over 300 media outlets were in attendance for the 2009 event.
    Eighty channels in 189 countries relayed news of the race. Each day, TV helicopters brought back rally images filmed on the stages, racing against the clock to get the action shots out to the world as soon as possible.

    The Dakar is visual gold for talented news photographers. Most travelled by press car looking for that magical viewpoint. The really big distributors, though, recorded their fantastic pictures from helicopters.

    Newspapers – Radio
    The Dakar is an unmatched source of human drama, with glorious victory and crushing defeat existing side-by-side. For journalists covering the race, it is a chance to tell the competitors’ stories from an intensely close perspective. Agency journalists and special correspondents from daily newspapers or specialised magazines take their inspiration from the adventure of Dakar as it unfolds.

    New Media
    It was possible to follow the team members in real time online, thanks to Iritrack technology.

    In rallying, information is everything and to get the best available, the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart Team uses highly advanced technology in all test sessions. GPS, for example, is invaluable in allowing the team to continuously track the car’s location, which is absolutely essential during testing and competition.

    Equally crucial to success is telemetry communication, which allows engineers back at base to collect live data from the car’s major components as it is being driven. That means the team can constantly monitor items such as the suspension, engine and gearbox – by looking at a huge number of variables such as heat, wear rates, fuel consumption, torque and power characteristics, the team can ensure optimum performance and also track down potential problems. Nowadays, telemetry is indispensable when it comes to making vehicle preparations for tough contests such as the Dakar.