First overall victory for a female driver
Deprived of final victory.
The MITSUBISHI MOTORS team began to make changes to the new T2 specification PAJERO/MONTEROs. The engine drivability was improved as well as maximum speed and acceleration. In addition, the suspension was modified to further enhance the shock absorbing capabilities over rough roads. The tires were also upgraded to better resist punctures. That year, the MITSUBISHI MOTORS team again fielded Shinozuka, Masuoka and Fontenay in the new T2 specification PAJERO/MONTEROs. The German distributor team, with the support of MITSUBISHI MOTORS, hired Kleinschmidt again, and the Spanish distributor team also entered new T2 specification PAJERO/MONTEROs. Sousa participated in a T3 specification L200 as part of the Portuguese distributor team.
The 23rd edition was held in the conventional way, aiming to go back to its original format. The event again started in Paris before making its way to Dakar. It kicked off from the Champ de Mars Square near the Eiffel Tower in Paris. After crossing the Mediterranean from Almeria in southeast Spain, landing in Nador, Morocco, the competitors headed to Atar in northwest Mauritania for the halfway rest day. The second half of the event made its way through Mali to Senegal. Two stages in form of a loop were scheduled in Mauritania. The total mileage was 10,518 km, including 5,944 km of competitive stages (SS), which was comparable to previous years.
That year's event again saw a fierce battle between the PAJERO/MONTEROs and the Schlesser Buggies. Schlesser took the lead in the early stages, but slipped back to eighth when he incurred a penalty for a breach of rules during the seventh stage, and his teammate Servià took the lead. However, at the end of the first half of the race, Masuoka set another fastest SS time in his PAJERO/MONTERO to become the new overall leader. With Kleinschmidt in second, the PAJERO/MONTEROs completed the first half of the rally with an impressive and domineering 1-2 result.
At the beginning of the event's second half, Masuoka set a blistering pace, and even though he was experiencing trouble, he remained at the top of the leaderboard for eight days. He managed to keep second-placed Schlesser at bay as they arrived at Tambacounda in Senegal. However, Schlesser and Servià did not start the penultimate special stage at the time they were supposed to in order to dash in front of Masuoka instead of behind him as they should have. The Japanese had therefore two rivals to pass with Servià protecting his teammate Schlesser. The fierce confrontation caused Masuoka to go off the road and break the offside rear wheel half shaft. Schlesser and Servià later got a 1-hour penalty for their behavior. In the overall rankings, Kleinschmidt was first, leading second-placed Masuoka by 2 minutes and 55 seconds. The last day's leg was kind of a curtain call with only a short 25 km special stage. In a late turnaround in fortunes, the German became the first woman to climb on the highest step of the podium at the Dakar. Masuoka ended in second place, having strongly contributed to the victorious 1-2 finish and MITSUBISHI MOTORS’s sixth victory. Schlesser lodged an appeal to the FIA (International Automobile Federation) International Court of Appeal to dispute the one-hour penalty but it was deemed inadmissible and was rejected. The French Automobile Federation later confirmed that a timing mistake had been made at the start of the stage and that a four minutes penalty should be imposed on Servià, who started four minutes before he was due to, and that no penalty should be imposed on Masuoka. Without this timing mistake, Masuoka would have won the rally by 1 minute 21 seconds, but the results were not overturned.