PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION Super Production moves ahead
7 consecutive wins, 12 overall victories
For the MITSUBISHI MOTORS team, which had consistently taken on the Dakar Rally since the 1983 event, the 2007 event marked its 25th year of participation. The Japanese automaker aimed to win a total of 12 victories including seven consecutive victories. The Super Production Specification PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTION (MPR13) was the first full model change since its debut in the 2003 event. The multi-tubular frame was newly designed with an integrated structure that eliminates the conventional sub-frame structure. Weight reduction and rigidity enhancement of the car body were undertaken, while the center of gravity was brought down and the front-to-rear weight balance optimized by lowering the position of the fuel tank and spare tires (maximum of four pcs). The doors, which were raised due to the fuel tank being located underneath the floor, were gull-wing type that opened up using the A-pillar as a fulcrum. Aerodynamic performance was tweaked, improving the Cd value by approximately 5%. The front face design of the fourth generation PAJERO/MONTERO, which was launched the previous year, was adopted. The car's performance was further enhanced by the optimization of chassis geometry and the enhancement of the springs and dampers characteristics. Thorough improvements were carried out throughout all aspects of the car, such as increasing engine response by reducing the weight and friction of the valve train components. As with the previous event, MITSUBISHI MOTORS fielded its usual top drivers: Masuoka, Peterhansel, Alphand and Roma.
The 29th event was similar to the previous one. It started in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, and was scheduled to finish in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, via Spain, Morocco, Mauritania and Mali. However, the journey between Mauritania and Mali was cancelled due to safety issues. Stages were completed in Mauritania and the Mali sections were only used for liaison (untimed sections). The total distance of the route was 7,915 km, including 4,309 km of competitive stages (SS).
The event saw a battle between the MITSUBISHI MOTORS team and the Volkswagen team. The Volkswagens put on a show of force from the first special stages in Portugal. When the rally proper started in Africa, the MITSUBISHI drivers were not able to follow their pace. Peterhansel experienced clutch problems and suffered a series of punctures, while Masuoka was also slowed by clutch problems. Nevertheless, the PAJERO/MONTEROs gradually moved up the standings with Peterhansel completing the first half of the rally in third place, Alphand in fourth and Masuoka in fifth. The leading position was held by Volkswagen’s de Villiers, followed by Sainz. However, when the competitors entered the second half of the rally, the situation changed. Sainz dropped back after getting stuck in the longest special stage of the rally (at 599 km) in Mauritania. In the next day's special stage, engine issues forced de Villiers to stop. As a result, Peterhansel and Alphand shot to the top, allowing the PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTIONs to clinch the first two spots. The two teammates fought a close duel right up to the finish, but the order remained unchanged when they arrived in Dakar. The best ranked Volkswagen driver was US driver Mark Miller, who finished fourth overall, more than two hours behind Peterhansel. With a 1-2 finish in the 29th running of the Dakar, the MITSUBISHI MOTORS team achieved a seventh consecutive win.
With a total of 12 victories, MITSUBISHI MOTORS is by far the most successful manufacturer in the Dakar (up to 2021). Masuoka recovered from his earlier problems to take fifth overall, and Roma, who was confined to a supporting role after being delayed when he got stuck in a dune, finished in 13th place. All four Super Production Specification PAJERO/MONTERO EVOLUTIONs completed the rally.