All eyes are on the Dakar Rally as major car brands across the globe prepare for the grueling and exciting event starting 6 January 2019 in Peru. The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is among those getting ready attempting to follow in the tracks of the legendary Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution. In fact, the Pajero Evolution won 12 times (seven were consecutive) which makes them the most successful manufacturer in their class.
This time, Mitsubishi will return to the Dakar Rally with an all-new vehicle, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross T1 racing SUV prototype. The Eclipse has been modified and perfected to take on the challenge and the person behind the wheel will be Spanish driver, Cristina Gutierrez. She is the first Spanish woman to complete the Dakar in a car back in 2017 and she was also the highest placed female driver in last year’s event. Pablo Huete will join Cristina in the co-driver seat.
Building The New Dakar-Spec Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
Unlike the road-going Eclipse, the Dakar prototype is more than a standard crossover lifted up and fitted with larger tires. Instead, Mitsubishi has built it on a unique steel space frame along with a carbon fiber body to further reduce the weight without sacrificing safety and durability. Under the hood, the engine has been swapped out with a turbo-diesel motor producing 340 hp and 686 Nm torque. It sends power to all four wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox.
They’ve also selected a custom double wishbone suspension system with two-fully adjustable Öhlins Racing dampers on each wheel. The long-travel Öhlins Racing shock absorbers can take a significant amount of punishment and can handle whatever surprises the Dakar Rally has in store. The Eclipse Cross is well-equipped to go the distance and four-piston AP Racing brake calipers will help stop the vehicle on rough terrain.
Judging from Gutierrez’ comments, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is something special. “For me, it is a big step ahead compared to the previous years. You can go very fast with it, while it is easier to drive and has greater off-road capabilities. It’s the most spectacular car I’ve ever driven and attracts a lot of attention!”
Next year’s Dakar Rally will take place in Peru where drivers and riders take on 5 000 km of timed competition over ten stages. An indication of just how tough it is going to be, 70% of the rally will be on the sand. With an all-new rally car and a revved-up racing team, the 2019 Dakar Rally title could once again go to Mitsubishi.
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