The upcoming 2009 Dakar Rally (held this time in Argentina and Chile) doesn't start until January of next year, but Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart has already announced an interesting development: a version of the venerable Pajero/Montero Evolution rally car with 12 Dakar wins to its name is running, but this time it will be powered by a diesel engine.

Code-named MPR14, the new car features a 3.0-liter diesel V-6 making 255 horsepower and a whopping 479 lb-ft of torque. Originally developed by creating a 2997cc diesel derivative of the previous MPR13 rally car's mill, the engine uses many of Mitsubishi's advanced diesel technologies such as high-pressure fuel injection and low compression ratios. Mitsubishi Motorsports (MMSP) was responsible for integrating the new V-6 with the chassis, and partner Valeo designed a bespoke cooling system. The rally car was extensively tested in France and North Africa.

Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart made the decision to go diesel in order to highlight a responsible approach to rally competition, and MMSP SAS president Osamu Nakayama wanted the motorsports program to reflect the automaker's "environmentally-friendly engineering strategy." In addition Spanish oil company Repsol hopes the rally car will aid its research into non-food sourced biodiesel fuel.

Luckily you won't have to wait until 2009 to see the new rally car in action -- four Pajero/Montero Evolutions are scheduled to be run in the upcoming Central Europe Rally starting on April 20, and one will be a new MPR14 diesel. In addition to the 1660-mile route between Hungary and Romania, the car will also compete in the Portuguese Transiberico and Baja Espana in Spain later this year. The reaction of other teams to MMSP's decision remains to be seen, but regardless it'll be interesting to see how the oil-burner stacks up against the competition in South America next year.

Source: Mitsubishi Motorsports