|Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution MPR14|
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Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and its motor sports unit MMSP have established the team's objectives for the coming season, as well as for the 2009 'Dakar', which breaks new ground with a start and finish in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and a rest-day in Valparaiso on Chile's Pacific coast.
Meanwhile, the major new feature of the team's 2008 programme is the introduction of a Turbo-diesel version of the highly successful Pajero Evolution, cross-country rallying's most successful car with a record 12 Dakar wins to its name since 1985. The new 2,997cc V6 powerplant benefits from Mitsubishi's longstanding expertise in the field of advanced diesel technologies, ranging from low compression ratios to high-pressure Fuel Injection.
Development of the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution MPR14 started with bench testing of a new three-litre 260bhp diesel derivative of the MPR13's existing petrol engine in Japan. The capacity of three litres was chosen since it offered the best compromise between performance and weight. The new block was then grafted into an MPR13 chassis to form the first MPR14 which underwent extensive testing in France and North Africa. This program was aimed at building on the proven strengths of the MPR13 and validating work done on the dyno to produce a competitive, reliable package with the new V6 diesel mated to a five-speed gearbox.
While the engine itself was essentially developed in Japan, MMSP was responsible for its integration in the chassis, with specialist of Valeo tasked with a bespoke cooling system. The MPR14 made its debut in the hands of Hiroshi Masuoka/Pascal Maimon (Japan/France) on Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart's first outing of the 2008 season, April's Central Europe Rally which took in Hungary and Romania.
Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart has also decided to take a lead by enhancing its environmentally responsible approach to its competition activities in association with its key partners, Repsol, Valeo and BFGoodrich, all of whom stand out as pioneers in their specific domains when it comes to protecting the planet. "Now, our motor sports activity has taken a step up to establish the environmentally-friendly engineering strategy of Mitsubishi Motors" underlines MMSP SAS's new president, Osamu Nakayama.
Repsol sees the arrival of diesel power for the Pajero Evolution MPR14 as an ideal opportunity to bring its latest research developments into efficient fuels in general and non-food sourced biodiesel in particular to the table. Indeed, the Spanish-based oil and gas firm's efforts in this field contributed to its recent nomination as a 'Gold Class' company in the Sustainability Yearbook 2008 compiled by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Sustainable Asset Management (SAM), an independent company tasked with conducting the annual assessments for the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. And the Michelin Group - which owns the BFGoodrich brand - has always stressed that the transfer of technology between its motor sports activities and road tires is by no means unilateral, and cites its ongoing research into low rolling resistance as one area in which production tires have benefited the competition programmes of partners such as Mitsubishi.
The 1990s saw the Michelin Group take a valuable lead in this domain with the launch of the first green car and truck tire range which has gone on to see the advent of products such as the current award-winning Michelin Energy Saver tire.
Last but by no means least, Valeo's long experience of automotive systems and electronics proved invaluable during the development of the new diesel-powered Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution MPR14. Its contribution essentially concerned the specific cooling system using the UltimateCooling architecture. Valeo's input also concerns the advanced low energy LED front and rear lighting systems used on the car and which further contribute to achieving appreciable fuel savings.
In addition to its ongoing testing and development activities, Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart is pleased to confirm its intention to contest three events during the first half of 2008.
The first will see a four-car entry for the inaugural Central Europe Rally with a line-up of four Mitsubishi Pajero Evolutions, including one MPR14 powered by the latest V6 diesel engine and crewed by Hiroshi Masuoka/Pascal Maimon (Japan/France), plus three MPR13s for Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (France), Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (France), and Joan Nani Roma/Lucas Cruz (Spain).
"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]."
Exact driver line-ups for the Portuguese and Spanish fixtures will be announced shortly, as will the team's programme for the second half of the season.
A European-specification Outlander will serve as support vehicle carrying spares and tools on the Central Europe Rally for the four Pajero Evolutions. It will form part of a total fleet of 13 service vehicles, which include five trucks, Pajeros, L200 pick-ups, and Outlanders.
The first Outlander to serve as support vehicle on a cross-country rally is a SUV aimed at urban motoring. It nonetheless profits from the same three-mode electronically controlled 4WD transmission system as the Pajero and the four-wheel drive L200, and has been specially prepared to take on the punishing conditions associated with rallies like the Dakar.
The Outlander which has been prepared for the Central Europe Rally is a European-spec model powered by a four-cylinder 2.2-litre Turbocharged diesel engine mated to a manual six-speed gearbox. It features the same livery as the competing cars and incorporates specific rally equipment such as roll cage, bucket seats, competition suspension and tires, and guards. Neither the engine, the gearbox nor the electronically-controlled 4WD transmission system have been modified, although their calibration has been tuned to meet the needs of the demanding conditions it will face. Last but not least, a bigger fuel tank has been fitted to ensure the sort of range required for the long distances involved.
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 route, including about 1,100km divided into seven special stages in Hungary and Romania. The stages range in length from 100 to 320km, the longest test taking the form of a loop around the reputed Romanian spa town, BaiaI Mare.
The seven-day rally finishes on the shores of Hungary's Lake Balaton on Saturday April 26.
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