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Dakar 2009: Mitsubishi to start with four Racing-Lancer in America.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation and its motor sport unit, the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team, in association with its partners Repsol, Valeo and BFGoodrich – will enter the new, turbodiesel 'Racing Lancer' in next year's Dakar Rally which will take competitors through Argentina and Chile from Saturday January 3 until Sunday January 18, 2009.

The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team is poised to kick off its first full season using turbocharged diesel power with a four-car entry on the 2009 Dakar. The team's bid will be spearheaded by its latest cross-country rally car, the new Racing Lancer. The four-car driver line-up is the same as that which has represented the team on this annual cross-country rally since 2005, namely Stéphane Peterhansel (France), Hiroshi Masuoka (Japan), Luc Alphand (France), and Joan 'Nani' Roma (Spain).

The 31st Dakar Rally will see the event switch to fresh territory in South America where Mitsubishi's foursome will be looking to secure not only its first-ever victory with a diesel powered car, but also the company's 13th success – including a run of seven successive wins since 2001— at this event.

The Racing Lancer will be officially unveiled on Thursday October 2 at the 2008 Paris Motor Show (Paris Expo, Paris, France) which opens to the public from Saturday, October 4 until Sunday, October 19. It will be displayed alongside the 'Lancer Sportback' upon which it is based and which is due to go on sale across Europe this autumn.

Following deterioration in the security situation in West Africa, which has traditionally served as backdrop to the Dakar, the event organisers have chosen to switch to the South American continent for next year's event.

The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team is directed by Dominique Serieys (France), himself a previous Dakar winner with the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero as a co-driver in 1993. The technical side of the operation is directed Thierry Viardot (France) with the support of engineers from Mitsubishi Motors.

Efficient organisation can make the difference between victory and defeat on the Dakar. The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team’s logistical operation – which includes looking after the movements and needs of the team's 15 vehicles and 65 staff members – is the responsibility of David Serieys (France).

Two T4 6x6 vehicles carrying mechanics, tires, and spare parts plus equipment will follow the same itinerary as the competitors, ready to intervene should one of the four Racing Lancers encounter a problem. In addition to the race trucks, the team's fleet consists of 8 SUVs for the transport of personnel and management staff, 5 T5 trucks also carrying tires, spare parts and equipment. These vehicles follow via an alternative route.

Two of these SUVs will be cross-country 'Pajero Sport' models, which is due to go on sale, this autumn, across the ASEAN nations, the Middle East, Central America, Oceania, and Russia. The Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team’s line-up for the 2009 Dakar is Luc Alphand/Gilles Picard (France), Hiroshi Masuoka/Pascal Maimon (Japan/France), Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (France) and Joan 'Nani' Roma/Lucas Cruz (Spain).

The motor sport department of Mitsubishi Motors and MMSP both contributed to the development of the Racing Lancer which complies with the Group T1 regulations of the FIA (motor sport's international governing body: Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile) introduced in 2002. The firm's latest cross-country rally car, which has been designed to take onboard the new super production regulations when they come into force in 2010, has benefited extensively from the experience acquired with the Pajero/Montero Evolution.

The development of the turbo-diesel engine began in April 2006 before being grafted into a Pajero/Montero Evolution for testing purposes in June 2007. Development of the body began in August 2007 and the first Racing Lancer was completed in June 2008. This car was put through its paces during one-week test sessions in Spain and Morocco, as well as over typical cross-country rally terrain in France. Based on the data collected during these tests, further sessions were organized in Morocco at the end of August/early September plus another two weeks in October prior to the Racing Lancer's debut on the sixth round of the FIA Cross-Country Baja International Cup, the Baja Portalegre (Thursday, October 30 to Sunday, November 2).

The Racing Lancer is based on a new multi-tubular steel frame. The team has taken particular care to minimize weight, while the additional space freed up by the longer wheelbase – a decision based on the regulations due to come into force in 2010 – has enabled the gas tank to be positioned lower in the car and has consequently brought down the centre of gravity. Handling has also been improved thanks to the new location of the spare tires which ensures enhanced control of the moment of inertia.

Mitsubishi Motors' design department was responsible for the body styling which uses carbon panels based on the design of the Lancer Sportback. The design was finalized after validation of the new car's aerodynamic performance in a wind tunnel. The powerful 3-liter V6 diesel engine features a two-stage turbocharger which positions a small and large turbine configuration on each side of engine, working with both the small and large turbine according to engine revolution and load.

Peak torque is 66.3kgfm (650Nm), while maximum power currently stands at 280PS (206kW), although this figure is expected to increase as development work continues. The cooling system of the intercooler is positioned at the rear of the car and is fed by the characteristic roof-mounted air scoop.

The V6 engine is fed through a manual Ricardo five-speed sequential gearbox engineered to cope with the high torque delivered by the powerplant. The Racing Lancer's permanent four-wheel drive transmission features the same self-locking differential as that used for Pajero/Montero Evolution.

Both the front and rear suspension systems feature extensively revised geometry and are both based on a double wishbone layout with coil springs, anti-roll bars and uprated BOS dampers which can be adjusted through a broader range. The car runs on BFGoodrich's new low-energy 245/80-16 cross-country rally tires and OZ aluminum alloy wheels (16x7JJ). The vented 16-inch brake discs are coupled with six-piston Brembo calipers.

¦ Specifications: Racing Lancer

FRONT/ REAR TRACK 1750mm/1750mm
ENGINE MODEL 6-cylinder Turbodiesel 24-Valve
with dry-sump oil system
FUEL SYSTEM Common rail high pressure injection
MAXIMUM OUTPUT 206kw (280 PS), 650Nm (66.3 kgfm)
TRANSMISSION 5-speed ‘Ricardo’-type, sequential shift gearbox and
mechanical gear selection
4WD system full time, mechanical center diff lock
Front diff ‘Ricardo’ self-locking differential
Rear diff ‘Ricardo’ self-locking differential
Front Independent, double wishbones, coil spring
Rear Independent, double wishbones, coil spring
and anti-roll bar system
DAMPERS ‘BOS’ fully-adjustable damping
WHEEL STROKE 250 mm front and rear
STEERING Power-assisted rack and pinion
BRAKES ‘BREMBO’ Front and rear Ventilated discs with
6-piston calipers
WHEELS ‘OZ’ aluminum (7JJ x 16)
TIRES BF Goodrich (245/80 – 16)
OTHERS Aeronautic steel multi-tubular frame, Honeycomb body
floor and carbon fiber body

Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart will be taking a range of measures to reduce its environmental impact for the 2009 Dakar. The competing Racing Lancers will feature advanced diesel technology, including high pressure injection and low compression ratios. The cars will run on a fuel mix that includes biodiesel*1, a carbon-neutral*2 alternative fuel, while green plastic*3 has been employed for several components including high frequency consumption parts as front bumper corners, mud guards, etc.

Repsol sees the arrival of diesel power for the Racing Lancer 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. 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 Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Sustainable Asset Management (SAM), an independent company tasked with conducting the annual assessments for the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

Valeo green technologies' experience of automotive systems and electronics proved invaluable during the development of the 'Racing Lancer's' cooling system which uses the UltimateCooling™ architecture. Valeo's input also concerned the LED daytime running lights, rear lights and roof-mounted stop light which are more efficient since producing less heat, consume significantly less energy - and therefore less fuel - and are longer lasting.

MMSP will benefit from the latest BFGoodrich-developed ‘’All Terrain’’ tire (245/80-16) which boasts both versatility and durability. It is ideal for the sort of mixed, hostile terrain and long competitive distances found in cross-country rallying in general and on the 2009 Dakar in particular. The BFGoodrich's ‘’All Terrain’’ 's characteristics and new dimension ensure low rolling resistance, as well as a more comfortable ride. It also stronger with a view to shrugging off the risk of punctures.

2008/09/10 | 03:25 CET | Editor: MR/MMSP/HS

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