Mitsubishi first entered motorsports in 1962, and in recent years the company's Lancer Evolution and Pajero racers have become legendary, taking four WRC Drivers' titles (plus one Manufacturers' title) and 12 Dakar Rally victories, respectively. In April the automaker announced that for 2009 it would race Dakar (now held in South America) with a diesel engine under the hood, and now Mitsubishi is revealing more about its latest off-roader -- blending elements from the Evo and Pajero into a single vehicle, the car will be a so-called rally "crossover" called the Racing Lancer.
Codenamed MRX09, the Racing Lancer features a new, multi-tubular steel frame, carbon-fiber bodywork, and a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 derived from the previous MPR13 rally car's gasoline engine. Good for approximately 260 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque, it should have no trouble hustling the vehicle's 4188-lb curb weight across rivers and over sand dunes. The car's Ricardo five-speed sequential transmission and permanent four-wheel drive system with limited slip differential carry over from the previous generation model.
Though longer than the previous Pajero/Montero (14.68 feet versus 13.76), the Racing Lancer is distinguished by a dramatically new look. Described as a "cross over between on-road and off-road rallying," it sports a sweeping roofline, narrow headlights and large, menacing grille reminiscent of the new Lancer Sportback five-door. This resemblance is intentional -- unlike the Pajero, which was built to mimic the automaker's line of SUVs, with the market for large vehicles quickly deteriorating Mitsubishi is hoping to use the Racing Lancer as a promotional tool for its passenger car division instead.
Mitsubishi's new diesel powertrain has been tested in a Pajero over the past several months, and the automaker is confident the Racing Lancer will perform well at the 2009 Dakar rally. But if you can't make it to the wilds of Argentina and Chile to catch the action, the new CUV will also be on display at this year's Paris Motor Show in October. In promoting the Racing Lancer Mitsubishi is also touting its green credentials, claiming the diesel V-6 boasts low emissions and uses less fuel than gas-powered competitors. Whether this can help it claim a 13th victory, however, will be interesting to see.
Source: Mitsubishi Motorsports