History of Mitsubishi in Paris Dakar Mitsubishi Pajero King of Desert
Dakar Rally: The only race for tough person and mean machine
Dakar Rally, previously called Paris - Dakar Rally, is an international annual off-road endurance competition, taking up to 900 kilometers per single day of race, which has been held since 1978 and it has gained its reputation from being one of the most difficult racing events since the 1st event covering 10,000 kilometers of journey from Place du Trocadéro, France, to the Dakar Desert, Africa.
Only 74 vehicles out of 182 total participating cars could make it to the finish line of 1978 Paris – Dakar proving that the event is reserved for testing the durability of the brave man and the superior man’s machine, the racing car.
Mitsubishi in Dakar Rally: Zero compromise for the victory
Mitsubishi Motors has got 25-year history of competing the world’s toughest off-road rally with unbeatable statistics of 12th win and the highlighted history of Mitsubishi in Paris Dakar Rally is ready for you to explore as below.
- 1983: The 1st participation
After the most extreme rally competition was held for few years, Mitsubishi made a decision to join the event for the first time with Mitsubishi Pajero introduced in 1982. The racing cars joined the Production and Marathon Class meaning that the vehicles received only slight modifications. Yet, both vehicles could complete the 10,000-kilometer course going home as winner with Team Prize by Sonauto and Yamaha team mates.
- 1984: Reaching top three for the 1st time
It did not take that long for Mitsubishi to be one of the three winners standing on the podium since Mitsubishi Pajero, driven by Andrew Cowan, had finished 1984 Paris – Alger – Dakar covering longer than 11,000 kilometers as the 3rd ranked winner in overall class. This victory proved the durability of the vehicle even receiving engine and suspension modifications to qualify Production-Modified Class.
- 1985: Winning the 1st ranked for the 1st time
Even 1985 was planned to be the toughest year for participant of Paris-Dakar since it covered further than 14,000-kilometer route, it could not stop the Mitsubishi Pajero from acquiring the 1st ranked winner,
Zeniroli/ Da Silva, and the 2nd ranked winner, Cowan/ Syer, making the SUV earned the title ‘King of the Desert’ for being able to beat the most adventure rally in the 3rd attempt.
- 1992: Winning the first 3 ranks for the 1st time
Once again that the competition was rougher than ever by covering more than 11 African countries in 1992 Paris – Sirte – Cape Town, but Mitsubishi Pajero came to claim its ‘King of the Desert’ back by acquiring the position on the position from the 1st ranked to the 3rd ranked proving that the Off-Road Spirit was fully transferred from generation to another completely. The man behind the steering of the winning car consisted of Auriol, Weber and Shinozuka.
- 1993: Securing the 1st ranked winner
1993 Paris – Dakar covering near 9,000 kilometers in distance was another great year of Mitsubishi Pajero to present its performance and durability since 3 Pajero made it to the top 5 winner list with Saby in the 1st ranked, Weber in the 4th ranked and Shinozuka in the 5th ranked.
- 1997: Filling top 10 winner list with 6 Mitsubishi Pajero
8,000-kilometer race of 1997 Dakar – Agades – Dakar became important mark in the history of Mitsubishi since the Pajero acquired 6 positions from top 10 winner list, from the 1st ranked to the 4th one including the 7th ranked and the 10th one. Also, Mitsubishi Pajero brought the spotlight to Kenjiro Shinozuka for taking a part in driving him to be the first Japanese driver winning the most difficult rally.
- 1998: Dominating the winner list from the 1st ranked to the 4th ranked 2nd consecutive year
Mitsubishi Pajero secured the position on podium of top 5 winners again by acquiring the victory for the 1st ranked to the 4th ranked for the 2nd consecutive years in 1998 Paris – Granada – Dakar with fascinating 8 hours gap time between the 1st ranked winner Mitsubishi Pajero and race car from other maker in the 5th ranked. The winning driver of Mitsubishi Pajero included Fontenay, Shinozuka, Saby and Masuoka.
- 2001: Creating the new chapter with the 1st lady winning Paris Dakar
2001 was the important point of the history of Paris Dakar since it was when Jutta Kleinschmidt took the victory from the challenging competition earning the title of being the 1st lady winning the event and she drove Mitsubishi Pajero. Once again that this vehicle taking a part in brought the victory to the one driving it including Masuoka who was the 2nd ranked winner with only few minutes behind the winning lady.
- 2002: Winning with Masuoka
Masuoka had attended Paris Dakar since 1987 and he finally managed to make his dream come true of getting the throne of Paris Dakar in 2002 with statistics of leaving the 1st ranked follower racer from other competitors in the 9th ranked longer than 15 hours. It was also another successful year for Mitsubishi for being on top 10 winner list from the 1st ranked to the 8th ranked.
- 2003: Being with the 1st Japanese winning 2nd consecutive Paris Dakar
Once again that Masuoka and Mitsubishi Pajero won the most adventurous rally again making the maker set many records in single race like having the 1st Japanese winning 2nd consecutive race, being the most successful maker in 20-year history of the event and leaving the 2nd ranked winner for almost 2 hours.
- 2004: Another big step of accomplishment for Thai racer
This year, Stéphane Peterhansel who won 6 times on motorbike in Paris Dakar Rally had reached another step of accomplishment by winning four-wheel class with Mitsubishi Pajero. Paris Dakar 2004 was the year that Thai racer had made the nation proud of him since Pornsawan Siriwattanakun made it the 15th ranked in overall table with Mitsubishi L200 Strada
- 2005: Claiming the 10th overall victory
Peterhansel, the French winner from previous year event, still managed to claim the victory of Paris Dakar with Mitsubishi Pajero making the maker become the 1st manufacturer breaking the record of winning 5th consecutive year and 10th overall victory from the most dangerous rally competition.
- 2006: Winning continuously
Mitsubishi still enjoyed winning Paris Dakar for another consecutive year including in 2006 one with Luc Alphand/ Gilles Picard in Mitsubishi Pajero while the overall winning table is still filled by 3 Mitsubishi Pajero in the top 5 winner list.
- 2007: ‘King of Desert’ with 7th consecutive year of winning and 12th overall victory
‘King of Desert’ is doubtlessly the best term for Mitsubishi Pajero after winning Paris Dakar 2007, again, leading to the unbeatable statistics till this minute as the manufacturer claiming 7th consecutive year of winning and 12th overall victory earning the tile of ‘Most Dakar Rally Wins by A Manufacturer’ from Guinness World Records.