• A proud history of competition

    At Mitsubishi Motors, we are intensely proud of the fact that our name is synonymous with global rallying success. We have dominated the most challenging rallies such as the FIA World Rally Championships and the gruelling Cross Country Dakar Rally. As Mitsubishi Motors forged a name for itself as the creator of virtually indestructible rally cars, so the victories in famous cross country rallies, such as the Australian Southern Cross Rally, began to mount.

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    Patrick Zaniroli, covered himself with glory when he took victory in the 1985 Dakar Rally behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Pajero. This was just the beginning of Mitsubishi Motors dominance of the Dakar, with Zaniroli and co-driver Jean da Silva recording the first of Mitsubishi Motors record-breaking twelve victories.


    Andrew Cowan, enjoyed a long and hugely successful relationship with Mitsubishi Motors. Cowan delivered the company’s first international rallying victory, winning Australia’s Southern Cross event in 1972 behind the wheel of a Colt 1100 Fastback. In the following year, Cowan debuted the very successful Lancer 1600 GSR. He went on to win the Southern Cross for three consecutive years in the Lancer.


    Kenjiro Shinozuka earned great success as a works driver for Mitsubishi Motors, becoming the first Japanese driver to win a round of the World Rally Championship at the Rallye Côte d'Ivoire Bandama in 1991. Shinozuka also became the first Japanese driver to win the famous Dakar Rally. He took this landmark victory in 1997 behind the wheel of a Pajero. 
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    Tommi Antero Mäkinen is one of the most successful rally drivers of all time, with an incredible four World Rally Championship titles to his name (1996-1999). Mäkinen achieved those four titles behind the wheel of a Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. As well as his success as a WRC champion, Mäkinen has also won the iconic Monte Carlo Rally four times. Mäkinen, a native-born Finn, is also a five-time winner of the Rally Finland event.


    Jutta Kleinschmidt has enjoyed a long career as a freelance rally driver and instructor. Her first competitive event was the 1987 Pharaoh’s Rally in Egypt, in which she competed on a motorcycle. Kleinschmidt swapped to four wheels in the 1990s, and her big moment came in 2001 when she won the Dakar Rally driving a Mitsubishi Pajero.


    Hiroshi Masuoka started off-road racing in 1979 and made his first attempt at winning the Dakar Rally in 1987. Masuoka finished inside the top ten at the Dakar event no fewer than six times between 1995 and 2000. In 2002, Masuoka was proud to be only the second Japanese driver in history to win the Dakar Rally, driving a Mitsubishi Pajero.


    Frenchman Stephane Peterhansel’s cross country rallying career started with motorcycles and he enjoyed enormous success on two wheels throughout the 1990s. In 1999, Peterhansel made the switch from two wheels to four. In 2002, he won the Rally of Tunisia and then went on to give the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution a winning debut in the 2002 UAE Desert Challenge. Peterhansel’s victory at the Dakar Rally in 2004 meant he was only the second competitor in history to win the Dakar on two and four wheels. 


    Luc Lucho Alphand was a famously successful downhill skier in the 1980s and 1990s, with 12 World Cup victories to his name. In 1998, though, Alphand decided to try rallying and took part in the Dakar Rally. The following season Alphand won the Dakar in his T1 category. After many more successes, Alphand achieved his dream in 2006 when he steered his Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution to outright victory at the Dakar.


    Frenchman Gilles Picard took part in numerous rallies on a motorcycle between 1973 and 1992 as a factory rider with Husqvarna, Cagiva and Yamaha. He then made the switch to co-driving and began a successful association with Mitsubishi driver Jean-Pierre Fontenay. In 1998 they won the UAE Desert Challenge and the Dakar Rally. When Fontenay retired from active competition, Gilles teamed up with Hiroshi Masuoka and took second overall in the Dakar Rally of 2004. He teamed up with Luc Alphand in 2005, which resulted in a victory in the 2006 Dakar Rally. Their season concluded with another win, this time on November’s UAE Desert Challenge.



    After working as a member of various service crews, Jean-Paul Cottret switched to the co-drivers seat, teaming up with fellow frenchman Stephane Peterhansel. Together, they took a series of outright wins in Cross-Country rallies, including the Rallye de Tunisie, the UAE Desert Challenge, the Rallye du Maroc and the Baja España. The pair extended their outright successes with a maiden Dakar Rally triumph in 2004, winning it a staggering 3 times in total!





    Cross-Country Dakar-rally 
    Mitsubishi Motors’ first entry into the world of international rallying came in 1967 when the company entered a Colt 1100 Fastback in Australia’s Southern Cross Rally. Five years later, Andrew Cowan won the same event behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Galant. The following year saw the debut of the Lancer 1600 GSR, which went on to win the Southern Cross Rally for three consecutive years. And that was just the beginning of Mitsubishi Motors’ domination of WRC – between 1974 and 2002, Mitsubishi Motors won 34 world rallies, making it one of the most successful teams ever. In 1988, the hugely successful Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 demonstrated even more effectively the potential of our cars. And in 1993, the first Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution I made its debut, beginning a rallying dynasty that would last for many years. In 1998, the Ralliart Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution V delivered a manufacturers’ title for Mitsubishi Motors.  With its rally cars going from strength to strength, Mitsubishi Motors’ trophy cabinet filled rapidly over the decades. Early success in events such as the Australian Southern Cross Rally set the tone as the company posted multiple wins throughout the 1970s. In its first outing in the famous Safari Rally in 1974, the Lancer 1600 GSR took victory. And Mitsubishi Motors has won the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies on no less than four occasions, three times consecutively from 1998 to 2000. Throughout the last couple of decades the Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution has been one of the most successful cross country rally machines of all time. The Mitsubishi L200 pickup also proved an ideal platform to go rallying with.
    Mitsubishi Motors has forged a long and hugely successful relationship with that most famous cross country rally of all, the Dakar Rally. The rally was previously known as the Paris-Dakar, but in the last few years the venue has changed: for example, the 2009 edition departed and ended in Buenos Aires (Argentina). The company first entered the gruelling rally in 1983, with Andrew Cowan driving a Pajero. By 2008, the Pajero had been taking part in the Dakar for 25 years. In 26 entries, Mitsubishi Motors has achieved 12 victories with seven of them coming consecutively. In the early years, the Pajero competed as a standard production vehicle, but as the rally and the cars evolved, the Pajero Evolution pushed the performance boundaries ever further. The Mitsubishi L200 pickup also proved tough enough to take on the Dakar and, more recently, the Racing Lancer became our first diesel-engine contender. 

    You cannot win races without peerless durability matched with searing performance. And at Mitsubishi Motors, we use what we learn during rally car development to make our road cars better and stronger.

    For Mitsubishi Motors, rallying is the ultimate test bed for developing technologies for durability, strength, performance and efficiency. Many of the innovations that result from the creation of world-beating rally cars find their way into our production models. And the ultimate road-going expression of that technology transfer is the Lancer Evolution. One of the abiding principles of creating a successful rally car is keeping weight down, and on the Lancer Evolution, you see that principle applied with the use of lightweight aluminium for the roof, bonnet, front wings and even the engine block and suspension components. Likewise, rally development informs the road-going new Lancer Evolution’s Super All Wheel Control, which allows for unbelievable control and handling whether on snow, gravel or tarmac. Aerodynamics are crucial to a rally car’s success too, and you see the same focus on managing the Lancer Evolution’s airflow with diffusers, spoilers and carefully engineered air intakes. And what we learn about how rally cars behave in extremes of heat, cold, dust and rocky terrain helps us to make all of our cars more reliable, durable and better to drive.