2003 TOPICS

Wednesday 6 August 2003
RIGOROUS TESTS FOR MITSUBISHI MOTORS’ CROSS COUNTRY RALLIES PROGRAM
Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution / Montero Evolution
H. Masuoka / M. Biasion / S. Peterhansel / J.-P. Fontenay
(Testing in Morocco - July 2003)
Erfoud (Morocco): Mitsubishi Motors has started its test and development program with the new Pajero Evolution / Montero Evolution in preparation for an all-out assault on the 2004 Dakar Rally. A concentrated two-week test - from 14 to 26 July - in the towering Moroccan dunes has seen the entire factory team joined by all four of its contracted drivers as it continues to develop the car for its next competitive outing in the UAE Desert Challenge in October.


Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution /
Montero Evolution

H. Masuoka / M. Biasion /
S. Peterhansel / J.-P. Fontenay
(Testing in Morocco - July 2003)

The Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution / Montero Evolution made its debut competitive outing in the 2002 UAE Desert Challenge and has taken victory in two events to date. However, the team made a prudent decision to withdraw from the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies after a fire destroyed Peterhansel’s leading Pajero Evolution / Montero Evolution in Tunisia earlier this year. Since then, the Macon-based team has concentrated on building a new car in preparation for this two-week test in eastern Morocco, where soaring sand-dunes, searing heat and rocky gravel tracks provide the ultimate environment.

Over the course of these two weeks, "Miki" Biasion, Stéphane Peterhansel, Hiroshi Masuoka and Jean-Pierre Fontenay, the team’s test and development driver, have all taken the wheel of the Pajero Evolution / Montero Evolution. Engine modifications, radical improvements to the suspension and relentless high-speed testing over the punishing terrain have provided an invaluable insight into the capabilities of the already proven competition car, and Mitsubishi Motors has never been so well prepared for its pre-Dakar Rally test in the UAE Desert Challenge.


Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution /
Montero Evolution

H. Masuoka / M. Biasion /
S. Peterhansel / J.-P. Fontenay
(Testing in Morocco - July 2003)

"This is a very important test for the entire team", commented team director, Dominique Serieys, the winning co-driver in the 1993 Dakar Rally. "We made it earlier than last year to give us more time; so far it has been better and I hope to cover around 6000 kilometers with all our drivers.

"I cannot go into details about many of the changes and revisions we have made, but we have been testing suspension, tires, the engine, transmission components, brakes and aerodynamics over the course of the two weeks", added Serieys. ""Miki" and Stéphane worked hard during the first week and Jean-Pierre, Hiroshi and Stéphane worked on further development and a tire test. The car is showing signs of further improvement, but I like to remain realistic and not get too confident. We had a headcount of 30 people here for the test, including our drivers, co-drivers, engineers, a gearbox technician, tire consultant, mechanics and helicopter pilot". Team engineers Thierry Viardot and Bernard Lindauer were also in attendance at the test, Lindauer moving from Mitsubishi’s World Rally Championship operation to join the cross country team before the Rally of Tunisia earlier this year.

Commenting on progress, Hiroshi Masuoka said: "It has been a very useful test for us so far and I know the importance of good preparation for the Dakar Rally. Competition will be very difficult and this is a real opportunity for me to get as much time in the car as possible. I intend to drive between 1800 and 2000 kilometers in a week with Gilles Picard in the Pajero Evolution / Montero Evolution. I think that next year’s Dakar will be the most difficult to win and this experience will be crucial.


Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution /
Montero Evolution

H. Masuoka / M. Biasion /
S. Peterhansel / J.-P. Fontenay
(Testing in Morocco - July 2003)

"We have been testing many things. I started with the suspension set up as it was for this year’s Dakar and then worked with our engineers to try some new settings. We had a tire test with the people from BF Goodrich and drove in the dunes near Erfoud and over some gravel stages nearby".

In conclusion, Serieys added: "We have the option of arranging a second test in August or September if we need to. Everything is going well, but it is possible we could return to Tunisia or even carry out a small test in France. Then we will use Dubai as our major competitive test for the Dakar with the entire team".

While Mitsubishi Motors continues development of the new Pajero Evolution / Montero Evolution, Mitsubishi Portugal is backing Carlos Sousa’s bid for victory in the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies. The L200 Strakar driver, who currently holds a 10 point advantage in the series, has now been entered in Turkey’s Rallye d’Orient in August and the Por Las Pampas Rally in Argentina.

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