The Dakar Rally had lost its founder to a tragic accident, but the rally continued under the supervision of TSO, led by Thierry Sabine’s father, Gilbert Sabine, a former dentist. Moreover, Peugeot entered the race as a factory team, marking a new era in the event. After winning the World Rally Championship (WRC) title in 1986, Peugeot transferred their activities to the Dakar Rally just after the Group B cars had been banned, bringing that WRC spirit to the deserts of Africa. Former Finnish World Rally Champion Ari Vatanen and others were recruited to drive their car. The team deployed 30 mechanics and enormous supply of spare parts, preparing a practically new car each night for the next day. The Finn tackled the marathon rally as a series of sprint-type rallies and fought a hard battle every day. The MITSUBISHI MOTORS team relied on the trustworthiness of the race-proven PAJERO/MONTEROs to thwart Peugeot's purposed campaign.
The MITSUBISHI MOTORS team launched the 1987 model PAJERO/MONTERO Prototype at the 9th Dakar event. The race-proven 4G54 type engine was improved, the maximum output delivered an impressive 250PS, torque was upgraded to a maximum of 35 kg-m and the transmission was further reinforced. Three top drivers were chosen to compete: UK’s Cowan, Da Silva and Rigal, both from France. The support team was comparable to the Peugeot factory team. The MITSUBISHI CITIZEN Natsuki team took on the challenge for the third year, with team director Yosuke Natsuki leading the way. He moved up from the non-modified production car class to a prototype with the aim of targeting the overall victory. The 1986 model PAJERO/MONTERO Prototypes were driven by Kenjiro Shinozuka and Hiroshi Masuoka, the latter participating in the Dakar for the first time. Jean Pierre Fontenay of France provided assistance with the modified production car class long wheelbase PAJERO/MONTERO.
The 9th event started from Versailles, and then crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Barcelona, landing on the North African coast of Algeria. The competition covered a total distance of 12,266 km closely similar to the route of the previous year, including 8,316 km of competitive stages (SS). At the beginning, Peugeot’s Shekhar Mehta of Kenya took the lead, but his teammate, Vatanen, climbed into first place by the end of the rally’s first half. Cowan's PAJERO/MONTERO did not progress in the rankings as expected, and Da Silva’s vehicle caught fire, forcing the Frenchman to retire. Rigal crashed after setting the fastest SS time for two consecutive days. Only Cowan survived, lying in eighth position overall while overcoming various problems along the way. On the other hand, Shinozuka’s PAJERO/MONTERO was the first prototype to display impressive results. By the long-awaited rest halt in Agadez, he took third position following Vatanen in the Peugeot and Zanilori in a Range Rover. Shinozuka showed considerable speed in the latter half of the rally, including recording the first fastest SS time for a Japanese competitor, finishing third overall, another premiere for a Japanese driver. Hiroshi Masuoka, who participated for the first time, also posted the fastest time in two special stages in the final leg and finished 29th overall. Team MITSUBISHI CITIZEN’s Natsuki won the Best Team Award. In addition, the PAJERO/MONTERO drivers continued to play an active role that year, with the Dutch Tijsterman couple from the Netherlands achieving a 12th overall ranking in a privately-run PAJERO/MONTERO.