The Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution was developed from the Super Production car regulations that came into force from 2002. Cars in this class are limited to a maximum width of 2000 mm and a maximum wheel travel of 250 mm. The original Pajero/Montero Evolution MPR10 complied fully with these regulations, although an updated version - the MPR11 - underwent several improvements and revisions this summer after two independent test sessions in Morocco.
Mitsubishi Motor Sports introduced several modifications to the original Pajero/Montero Evolution after a detailed test session in Morocco back in July 2003. The major development was the successful transition from a 3.5-liter V6 engine to a 4.0-liter V6 unit, FIA Cross-Country technical regulations allowing engine capacity increases in a minimum of 500 cc increments.
The power plant was built and developed in Japan and used for the first time during a two-week test in Morocco. It also powered the factory cars during the 2003 UAE Desert Challenge, in which Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret claimed victory.
Torque and throttle response was improved considerably and maximum torque increased from 36 mkg to 43 mkg at 3500 rpm - a 19% improvement. The position of the original Pajero/Montero Evolution engine was lowered by 100 mm and placed 300 mm back for a lower center of gravity to optimize weight distribution.
The car retained a six-speed sequential gearbox, although a new Kinetic and hydraulic anti-roll bar system was tested extensively in Morocco and used for the first time during the 2003 UAE Desert Challenge.
"The 2003 Morocco test was used to improve engine, transmission and differential cooling systems," said the team's Technical Director Thierry Viardot. "The changes we made were finally confirmed in the UAE that October, prior to the 2004 Dakar Rally. We changed the size and shape of the water radiator, improved the quality of the piping and air ducts and made numerous other small revisions."
|PAJERO / MONTERO EVOLUTION MPR11|
Modifications were also made to the suspension set-up and these were also put into practice in the UAE last year. Mitsubishi used Brembo brakes and a 500-liter fuel tank was retained, but the minimum weight was extended from 1750 kg to 1825 kg, as per the FIA technical regulations. The interior roll cage was also reinforced around the windscreen and roof areas.
But Mitsubishi Motors knew that to remain competitive against improving competition the MPR10 would need to be further developed and improved. The MPR11 is the result of many months hard work by the team at Pont-de-Vaux, and it made its competition debut in the hands of Stéphane Peterhansel and Jean-Paul Cottret during the 2004 UAE Desert Challenge. Team-mates Hiroshi Masuoka and Andreas Schulz used the existing MPR10 to enable the technicians and engineers to make a comparison between the two cars in adverse conditions.
The new MPR11 offers increased torque, especially at lower engine speeds, although it delivers a similar power output to the MPR10. Mitsubishi Motors carried out exhaustive tests in Morocco with various suspension settings and there have been subtle improvements to the suspension. The MPR11 benefits from improved weight distribution and has a lower center of gravity to improve handling, cornering and road holding.
"The cars are very similar in terms of exterior appearance," said Peterhansel during the 2004 UAE Desert Challenge. "But you can see the differences when you drive the MPR11 for a short time. It handles very well and feels more like a conventional car. It is very responsive and has more torque."