Mitsubishi readies diesel Racing Lancer for Dakar

Published: 09 September 2008

Mitsubishi will enter this new turbodiesel Racing Lancer into 2009's back-from-the-dead Dakar Rally. Mitsubishi is pinning all its hopes on the Racing Lancer in its bid to take an eight straight title.

It's the first time a Japanese manufacturer has used a diesel car in the event, but the Europeans have competed with derv racers before. A diesel-powered VW Touareg took a laudable second place in 2006.

Don't you mean the Paris-Dakar?

Formerly known as the Paris-Dakar, the event will move to South America for 2009 after the cancellation of 2008’s rally owing to unacceptable security risks. The route of the 31st Dakar rally will take the entrants from Buenos Aires, across to Chile, through the Andes Mountains, before returning to the Argentine capital to finish.

And what of this Mitsubishi Racing Lancer?

The Racing Lancer will be officially unveiled at the Paris motor show in October 2008, and its credentials clearly indicate the Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart team’s ambition to retain its Dakar title. But Mitsubishi's claim that the new car is based on the roadgoing Lancer Sportback looks a little far fetched.

The racer features a new tubular steel frame chassis that reduces the weight and allows the fuel tank to be placed closer to the ground, lowering the Lancer's centre of gravity. And that diesel powerplant, which has been in development since April 2006, is a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 which produces 276bhp and 480lb ft.

Double wishbones provide the suspension front and rear, while stopping power comes courtesy of 16-inch vented brake discs with six-piston Brembo callipers.

There are some Evo genes in there, but this thing is more bespoke racer than Lancer, we suspect...