Peterhansel and Alphand pocket 1-2 finish, Peterhansel securing his second win in a row
MITSUBISHI MOTORS launched a Super-Production version of the PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION (MPR11) for the 2005 event. The wheelbase was extended by shortening the front overhang while keeping the overall length unchanged. The engine featured a cylinder head with a newly designed upright intake port, reducing friction by lessening the weight of moving parts such as crankshafts, connecting rods and pistons. The low-speed torque was improved as an output characteristic to emphasize the response in the low revolution range. This included reducing the exhaust pipe diameter. As the front wheels were moved forward, the vehicle became a front-midship car, and the front-to-rear weight distribution was optimized to improve handling performance.
The team lineup was also greatly strengthened. Drivers included Masuoka and Peterhansel, Luc Alphand of France, a former Alpine ski champion and an experienced driver who won three stages in previous editions of the Dakar, and Joan "Nani" Roma of Spain, the previous year's winner in the motorcycle category. All four made up a powerful force capable of making the most of the PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION’s performances. Acting in a support role, Mayer was taking part in the Super Production spec L200.
The 27th Dakar kicked off from Barcelona, the second largest city in Spain. After tackling a prologue in the suburbs of Barcelona on December 31, the competitors crossed the Strait of Gibraltar to reach Africa at the port of Rabat on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, where a full-fledged special stage awaited them. Mauritania was the main setting for the rally with six stages, including one in form of a loop. After taking a rest day in Atar, the participants arrived in Dakar, Senegal, via Mali. The next day, the final special stage was held and the finish ceremony brought an end to a relatively compact event whose total distance amounted to 9,039 km, with 4,913 km of competitive stages (SS).
At the beginning of the African stage, Peterhansel sustained three punctures and Masuoka was set back when he hit a depression in the road and broke his front right suspension. Meanwhile, the Nissan pickups driven by UK’s Colin McRae and South African Giniel de Villiers were heading the way in a 1-2 formation, but a revitalized Peterhansel set the fastest time in the 660 km long Zouérat-Tichit stage, which was the toughest of the event, and subsequently took the lead. The battle was essentially between Peterhansel and Alphand, partly due to other competitors' misfortunes. Peterhansel was hit by engine trouble on the last day of the first half, but the problem was quickly fixed by MITSUBISHI MOTORS engineers. Thus, he was able to maintain his comfortable lead during the second half of the event. At the end of the day, Stéphane Peterhansel, along with second-placed Alphand in second gave MITSUBISHI MOTORS a spectacular 1-2 finish. MITSUBISHI MOTORS claimed their tenth and fifth consecutive win in the Dakar Rally. In the latter half of event, Masuoka was hit by the same engine issue that Peterhansel experienced, and was forced to retire. Mayer also retired due to mechanical problems, but Roma successfully completed the rally and finished a respectable sixth overall at his first attempt in the car category.