Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Victory for Mitsubishi on first target. New Mitsubishi Racing Lancer debut Baja Portalegre, Japan counterpunches German Off-Road DAKAR and Bajas


Baja Racing News.com

Victory for Mitsubishi!

A polished performance from Stéphane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (France) and everyone at Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart on this weekend's Baja Portalegre 500 has taken the brand new Racing Lancer to its first victory, straight from the box. Mitsubishi's latest cross-country rally car, which will take over from the successful Pajero/Montero Evolution on next January's Dakar, ran perfectly reliably throughout the three-day Portuguese event to win by the margin of 4 minutes 3 seconds after 515.16km of stages.

What counted possibly more than the final result, however, is the fact that the team was able to profit from the final round of the 2008 FIA Cup for Cross-Country Bajas to validate recent development work on the new car in the specific conditions of the fast, twisty mountain tracks near Portalegre.

The Racing Lancer also covered some 5,000km in southern Morocco shortly before the start of this weekend's competition and Team Director Dominique Serieys (France) is particularly pleased with the outcome of this solid, long-term groundwork: "Today's result rounds off another successful season for Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart which ends 2008 with three wins and two second places to its name. Everyone has done a tremendous job ths year. That includes the stafat MMSP, the people at MMC who look after the engines and, of course, our four crews.It was Stéphane who took the spoils today, but Nani Roma (Spain), Luc Alphand (France) and Hiroshi Masuoka (Japan) have all played vital roles, too."

This weekend saw Stéphane Peterhansel and his co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret recover from a harmless spin on Friday's super-special and a puncture on Saturday morning's SS2 to pull more than four minutes clear at the top of the leaderboard by the end of Day 2. A quick, yet safe pace then enabled the French pair to come through this morning's drier but equally tricky 110km stage to kick off the Racing Lancer's competition career on a high note. "After more than a year of hard work to make the Racing Lancer as competitive as it is today, it is a fitting reward for everyone in the team to have kicked off the new car's scorecard with a victory here in Portugal," observed the French driver. "It was an honour for me to be chosen by Mitsubishi to give the Racing Lancer its first outing, and it's nice to have succeeded in paying back that confidence with a win."

Having steered the petrol-powered Pajero/Montero Evolution MPR13 to victory on September's PAX Rally, which visited the same part of Portugal as this weekend's Baja, Stéphane Peterhansel is ideally qualified to compare the performance of the Racing Lancer with that of its predecessor. "I was impressed by two things over the past three days", he reported. "The first concerns the engine: the new 3-litre V6 marks a big improvement in all areas, but it is especially strong out of the slower turns. You can feel the torque and acceleration of the turbo-diesel powerplant pull you through the corner and give you the speed for the next straight� The car's other main strength is its chassis. An event like the Portuguese Baja calls for a specific configuration and we essentially defined a basic set-up for the weekend by extrapolating from what we learned in Morocco. Those settings worked extremely well, and I was pleasantly surprised by the ability of the suspension to soak up the terrain, as well as by the front-end's directional precision."

"Although this event was short, the conditions turned out to be quite varied, and that was obviously positive for our mission here in Portugal,"
added co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret. "The terrain was essentially twisty, but quite fast and very delicate, too, so we were able to establish some good benchmarks. We also succeeded in keeping to the initial game-plan to win with a big enough margin to cover a possible puncture on the final day."

Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart will remain in Portugal after the Baja Portalegre 500 for a little further testing before spending time in Spain, for engine calibration work at high altitude. With the 2009 Dakar fast approaching, the car which contested this weekend's event will continue to be used for testing duty, while the official shakedown of the four cars currently under construction for the rally itself will take place in France (Le Creusot), on December 15, before their transport to South America by plane five days later.

Final Results
1  Peterhansel-Cottret    Mitsubishi Racing Lancer 6:11:48
2 Campos-Baptista BMW X3 + 4:03
3 Barbosa-Ramalho BMW X3 + 10:37
4 Van Deijne-Van Deijne Mitsubishi L200 + 24:02
5 Grancha-Primaz Nissan Navarra + 25:18
6 Leal dos Santos-Luz BMW X5 + 26:51
7 Zapletal-Ourednicek Mitsubishi L200 + 28:56
8 Ramos-Vitor Toyota RAV 4 + 36:04
9 Gameiro-Dominguez Nissan Navarra + 41:34
10 Sousa-Silva Isuzu D-MAX + 46:35

Original Story:

Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart is targeting November's Baja Portalegre / Portugal for the competition debut of Mitsubishi's latest cross-country rally car, the turbodiesel “Racing Lancer”.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and its motorsport unit MMSP have developed a new cross-country rally car, the turbodiesel “Racing Lancer” which will be entered Baja Portalegre / Portugal.

The team's 2008 calendar also features 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.

In parallel to its competition activities, Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart is also furthering the development of the new ‘’Racing Lancer’’ with the clear objective of winning the Dakar in 2009.

As officially revealed, the team's latest cross-country rally car will be 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 newly-created Dakar Series), the Rali Transiberico (second round of FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup) and the Baja Espana (round three of the FIA International Cup for Cross-Country Bajas).

Competing at rally speeds against the sport's leading teams has enabled the team to gather a vast amount of valuable data which could not have been obtained through testing alone. Hiroshi Masuoka (Japan) has competed twice with the turbocharged Pajero/Montero Evolution and is typically 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," says Masuoka. "It outperforms the petrol-powered car in terms of controllability over challenging terrain, as well as when accelerating out of corners and along highspeed straights. With the right set-up it would be comfortably faster."

Joan 'Nani' Roma (Spain) drove a Pajero/Montero Evolution, with the new turbodiesel grafted into it, on the Rali Transiberico. He reported that he had to adapt his driving style to the new engine's torque characteristics. Roma succeeded in posting three fastest stage times on the Portuguese event and actually led at one point, speaking volumes for the potential of the new engine.

This experimental car covered more than 8,000km in testing and competition, and the engineers in charge of the program have profited from this opportunity to develop a new suspension geometry designed to cope with the different weight distribution and torque characteristics associated with the new turbocharged diesel engine. They have also worked on a new engine compartment layout which is aimed at 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, while reliability has also been enhanced.

The ‘’Racing Lancer’’ took part in two one-week test sessions in Spain and Morocco towards the end of June following its unveiling earlier in the month. With the basic performance package now confirmed and initial teething problems cured, the team is taking advantage of the considerable experience obtained with the Pajero/Montero Evolution to accelerate the new vehicle’s development.

Continuing the build-up to the 2009 Dakar, the team has entered three petrol versions of the Pajero/Montero Evolution for Portugal's PAX Rally, the second event of the newly-created Dakar Series (Tuesday September 9 – Sunday September 14). The three cars will be driven by Stéphane Peterhansel (France), Luc Alphand (France), and Joan “Nani” Roma (Spain). The outing will enable the team to carry out work on the suspension and tires which will be carried over to the Racing Lancer.

The Racing Lancer itself will undergo further testing in Morocco between the end of August and the beginning of September, as well as over the latter part of October. Each test will last approximately two weeks and the car will cover some 4,000km each time. Following its extensive development program, the Racing Lancer will make its official debut on the Baja Portalegre / Portugal, round six of the 2008 FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup (Thursday October 30 – Sunday November 2). The car will be in the hands of Stéphane Peterhansel, the Dakar's most successful competitor with a total of nine outright wins – on two and four wheels – under his belt.

Baja Racing News.com