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Development of New PAJERO Rally Car

for Paris-Dakar Rally

Yoshihiko OTOTAKE* Shuusuke INAGAKI*

Spare wheels (four)

Monocoque body and

roll cage

500-litre fuel tank

Four-wheel independent suspension

Fig. 2 Major features of new PAJERO rally car

Fig. 1 New PAJERO rally car at 2001 Paris-Dakar Rally

finishing line

The rally version of a new Mitsubishi PAJERO mod-

el competed in the Paris-Dakar Rally for the first time in
2000 and achieved third place overall. It achieved an
even better result – overall victory – in the Paris-Dakar
Rally the following year.

1. The Paris-Dakar Rally

The Paris-Dakar is a long-distance off-road rally that

began in 1979. It takes place on a huge scale; the 10,000
km course begins in Europe in mid-winter conditions
and continues into Africa through demanding environ-
ments including mountains, rocks, mud, deserts, dunes, Fig. 3 Driving scene
and savanna. Competing teams take nearly three weeks
to cover the course, camping along the way. For teams
and vehicles alike, the Paris-Dakar is a supremely severe • Light, highly rigid monocoque body
test. • Long wheelbase (and concomitantly superior stabil-
The PAJERO has competed in the Paris-Dakar every ity and load capacity)
year since 1983 (the year following its launch) and has • Engine and drivetrain employing proven compo-
achieved outstanding results including six overall victo- nents
3. Engine
2. Concept of new PAJERO rally car
The Paris-Dakar rules permit a competing vehicle’s
With the PAJERO rally car, Mitsubishi Motors engine to be replaced with another one provided it is
Corporation (MMC) took advantage of the production used by the same manufacturer in the same vehicle
model’s superior features to achieve outstanding com- family, so MMC employed the powerful 6G74 MIVEC
petitiveness and reliability. Key features are as follows: engine, which has proven itself in the PAJERO EVOLU-
• Four-wheel independent suspension (and concomi- TION. The rules do not permit the adopted engine’s
tantly superior handling stability and roadholding) internal parts to be modified, and they require the

* Vehicle Testing Dept., Car Research & Dev. Office

Development of New PAJERO Rally Car for Paris-Dakar Rally


Wheel bearing

Pressure selection
valve Hub

Fig. 4 Drivetrain configuration


Air flows to and from the tire on the turning wheel via the following path: upright ↔
wheel bearing (provided with air passage in center) ↔ hub ↔ pressure selection valve
↔ wheel (provided with air passages in spokes) ↔ tire

Fig. 6 Air path

5. Suspension

The suspension stroke, which is important with

respect to rough-road performance, is restricted to 250
mm by the Paris-Dakar regulations, so MMC optimized
the bump-to-rebound ratio within the permitted stroke
1 High-pressure air tank 5 Selector valve (fitted on wheel)
2 Regulator 6 Tire
with regard to body inputs and traction.
3 Solenoid valve 7 Vacuum pressure source The regulations do not permit alteration of the
4 Pressure sensor
points at which suspension parts are mounted on the
The controller adjusts the tire pressure to the desired level by activating the solenoid body, so the characteristics of the production model’s
valve in accordance with information from a pressure gauge. Parts 3, 4, and 5 are suspension are critical. With the new PAJERO, MMC
provided separately for each wheel, so each tire pressure is controlled independently of
the others. used the benefits of its rally experience to reflect off-
road considerations in the suspension geometry of the
Fig. 5 Tire pressure control system production model. As a result, the suspension geome-
try is excellent for rally applications.
Two dampers per front wheel and three dampers
engine’s intake air volume to be limited by a restrictor. per rear wheel are used to minimize heat-induced dete-
MMC increased the respective capacities of the radiator rioration in damper performance on rough roads.
and oil cooler in the cooling system to enable high-load
operation for long periods at low vehicle speeds. 6. Technical point

4. Drivetrain Each leg (one-day) of the Paris-Dakar Rally encom-

passes a huge distance (300 – 800 km) and a concomi-
The drivetrain is configured for full-time four-wheel tantly wide range of road-surface conditions, which
drive. For superior traction and reliability, it employs necessitate different tire pressures: On relatively hard
viscous-coupling-unit front and center differentials and surfaces, high tire pressures are necessary to give the
a mechanical limited-slip rear differential. In the front tires sufficient lateral rigidity and puncture resistance.
differential, a mechanical locking mechanism is located On dunes, by contrast, low tire pressures, which maxi-
in parallel with the viscous coupling unit to enable the mize the tires’ contact areas, are necessary to help pre-
vehicle to be extricated from stagg in dune. vent the vehicle from sinking. To allow the PAJERO ral-
On the rally course, the drivetrain is subjected to ly car’s occupants to adjust the tire pressures without
extremely severe conditions including impact load by stopping the car and getting out, MMC developed a sys-
big jumps. MMC ensured sufficient strength, durability, tem that can be used to make adjustments by means of
and reliability by selecting high-grade materials ( σ b = a controller in the cabin while the car is moving.
2,000 MPa), maximizing gear-meshing precision, and
establishing optimal replacement intervals. 7. Summary

MMC has competed in the Paris-Dakar Rally since

creating the PAJERO nearly 20 years ago. Numerous

Development of New PAJERO Rally Car for Paris-Dakar Rally

technical problems during this period have taught us a

great deal, and we have reflected the benefits in succes-
sive PAJERO production models, making each one
faster, safer, and more comfortable than its predeces-
sors. As we make further technological advances
through our Paris-Dakar participation, we shall contin-
ue to feed them back into production models in pursuit
of the highest possible levels of durability, reliability, Yoshihiko OTOTAKE Shuusuke INAGAKI
and cross-country performance.
In 2002, MMC revised the specifications of the
PAJERO rally car to comply with revised regulations.
Thanks to the benefits of our experience, we achieved
overall victory once again. Details of the winning vehi-
cle will be published at the next opportunity.