MITSUBISHI PAJERO/MONTERO takes victory with a second overall win
Outstanding 1-2-3 finish
The MITSUBISHI MOTORS team began the development of the 1992-year model for the 14th event, and at the same time, it started designing the Okazaki Proto No.3 car. Based on the high powered 1991 model, the new 1992 prototype implemented improvements focusing on improved reliability, such as solutions to address the driveshaft problems that occurred during the previous event. The MITSUBISHI MOTORS team participated in the event with 1992 prototypes driven by Shinozuka and Fontenay, as well as new teammates Erwin Weber of Germany, Hubert Auriol and Bruno Saby, both of France. In addition, it was decided that Masuoka would participate in a highly reliable evolved 1990 model prototype in the modified production car class.
For the first time, the 1992 event was set to finish in Cape Town, South Africa, rather than in Dakar, Senegal. The participants competed during 23 days and covered a total distance of 12,441 km, including 5,680 km of competitive stages (SS). The broad scale event passed through 11 countries across the African continent. Again starting in front of the Château de Vincennes in Paris on December 25, the caravan crossed the Mediterranean Sea, entering Africa at Misratah in northern Libya, heading southward to Niger, Chad, and Central Africa, then traveling through Gabon and Cameroon on January 8, finally taking a rest day in the harbor city of Pointe Noire in Congo. In the second half of the rally, after going down the Atlantic coast to Angola, the participants passed to Zaire by ferry and entered Namibia, and on to South Africa. They reached Cape Town on January 16. The scene was set to go way beyond the vast desert expanses. It was almost the same as that of the traditional Dakar Rally up until N’Guigmi in southern Niger. However, when entering the tropical region in the southern part of the vast continent, drivers faced many difficult stages, such as fast straight roads through the savannah or narrow paths through the jungle. In one section, the front runners churned up heavy clouds of dust causing mayhem for the following participants. A total of four SS sections were cancelled in Chad due to safety issues.
At the very beginning of this long and tough rally, the PAJERO/MONTERO driven by Auriol posted the fastest time and took the lead. The PAJERO/MONTEROs dominated the top five positions in the special stages held in Niger, with Shinozuka in second and Weber in third, forming a leading trio and increasing the gap to the Citroëns in the first half of the rally. While Saby crashed out and Fontenay was forced to retire, Auriol defended the lead until the end and won the overall classification. He was followed by Weber in second place, and Shinozuka, third, marking the PAJERO/MONTERO’s second victory since 1985 with an overwhelming 1-2-3 finish. On the other hand, Masuoka finished 20th overall due to hub bearing problems and other circumstances that prevented him from improving his ranking. Thai rally driver Siriwattanakun Ponsawan finished 28th at the wheel of a long wheelbase PAJERO/MONTERO powered by a V6 engine entered in the modified production car class.