“Racing Lancer” prepares to make its debut
Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart has a busy time ahead. As well as competing in selected rounds of the inaugural Dakar Series; the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup and the FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas with the tried and tested Pajero/Montero Evolution - it is also developing the new ‘'Racing Lancer'' with the clear objective of winning the 2009 Dakar.
The Racing Lancer, Mitsubishi's latest cross-country rally car, is powered by a new turbocharged diesel engine which has already been put through its paces in a specific version of the Pajero/Montero Evolution on the following races: the Central Europe Rally (the first event of the recently-established Dakar Series), the Rali Transiberico (second round of FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup), and the Baja Espana (third round of the FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas).
Competing at rally speeds against leading teams has enabled Team Repsol to gather invaluable data which is not obtainable through testing alone.
Hiroshi Masuoka (Japan) has competed twice with the turbocharged Pajero/Montero Evolution and is enthusiastic about the newcomer's potential: "The diesel version is overwhelmingly easy to drive thanks to its tremendous torque which is available over an even broader rev-band. It outperforms the petrol-powered car in terms of controllability over challenging terrain, as well as when accelerating out of corners and along high-speed straights. With the right set-up it would be comfortably faster."
Joan 'Nani' Roma (Spain) drove a Pajero/Montero Evolution with the new turbo-diesel grafted into it on the Rali Transiberico, adapting his driving style to the new engine's torque characteristics. Roma succeeded in posting three fastest stage times on the Portuguese event, leading at one point, which proves the potential of the new engine.
This experimental car covered more than 8,000km in testing and competition, allowing engineers to develop new suspension geometry designed to cope with the different weight distribution and torque characteristics.
A new engine compartment layout has also been developed, ensuring better cooling for the engine and auxiliary components. Technical improvements to the turbocharger have produced improved response at low revs, as well as more power at high engine speeds, and reliability has also been enhanced.
In preparation of the 2009 Dakar, Team Repsol has entered three petrol versions of the Pajero/Montero Evolution for Portugal's PAX Rally: the second event of the recently-established Dakar Series (9-14 September). Stéphane Peterhansel (France), Luc Alphand (France) and Joan "Nani" Roma (Spain) will be in the drivers' seats, developing the suspension and tyres which will be carried over to the Racing Lancer.
The Racing Lancer itself is due to undergo testing in Morocco, covering 8,000km. Following its extensive development program, the Racing Lancer makes its official debut in round six of the 2008 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup (Portugal, 30 October-2 November). The car will be in the hands of Stéphane Peterhansel, the Dakar's most successful competitor with a total of nine outright wins.