Five Mitsubishis to start Dakar Rally

Five Mitsubishi Lancers will start next year's Dakar Rally, despite the Japanese manufacturer's withdrawal from the event at the start of the season

Five Mitsubishis to start Dakar Rally

French firm JMB Stradale has bought all of the factory Racing Lancers for the Dakar, which begins on January 1. Mitsubuishi's former team manager Dominique Serieys has been drafted in to oversee the team's most significant Dakar entry, comprising Carlos Sousa, Miguel Barbosa, Guilherme Spinelli, Orlando Terranova and team owner and driver Nicholas Mislin.

Mislin, who finished 10th in the 2002 Dakar, said: "For a long time, I tried to buy a Mitsubishi Pajero factory car from Mitsubishi Motor Sport [MMSP]. When I found out at the beginning of the year that their racing vehicles were for sale, I took a closer look at the situation.

"We closed the first deal regarding the racing cars in April and, after much reflection and negotiation, I bought the full MMSP at the end of September."

Mitsubishi spent months developing the Racing Lancer and its diesel engine, in the hope of continuing a Dakar record which boasted nine wins in 11 years with the Lancer's predecessor.

The new Mitsubishi was no match for the Volkswagens in South America earlier this season and in an effort to find more performance and better consistency, Mislin has switched the diesel engines to run petrol motors from the Pajeros.

He said: "We have replaced the Lancer's diesel motor with a gas engine, because the costs of getting the most out of diesels are very high. So, we will have to try to distinguish ourselves on the difficult stages, with lots of obstacles. But there are at least 20 credible cars capable of finishing in the top 10."

Dakar starts in Buenos Aires on January 1 and returns, after 9000km through Argentina and Chile, for the finish on January 16.

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