Hard to believe, but Mitsubishi---a powerhouse on the overseas off-road racing circuit---has annouced that they're pulling out of the Dakar series, and all other cross-country races for the foreseeable future due to current economic hardships. This after the company invested heaven-knows-how-much money into designing and building an all-new race rig just for Dakar 2009, a biodiesel Lancer with a 480 ft-lb, 3.0L six-cylinder that finished in Seventh place at this year's rally, which just wrapped up a couple of weeks ago. By Mitsu's standards, that's an underachievement: Mitsubishi vehicles (Pajeros, mostly) have been a fixture in the winner's circle at this King of All Rallies, having captured 12 Dakar championships. For those of you who don't follow off-road rally racing all that closely, this news--and the fallout that's likely to ensue on the racing circuit as a result---would be similar to hearing that Chevrolet has decided to pull out of NASCAR. Either way, we sure hope we get to see that diesel Lancer again---and a Mitsubishi team holding up another winner's trophy---somewhere down the line. Press release follows:
Mitsubishi Motors to Wirthdraw From Dakar Rally and all Cross-Country Races
* 26 entries, 12 victories, including 7 consecutive wins
* Deterioration in global economy forces decision
* Includes the Dakar Rally, Dakar Series and all cross-country races
Tokyo, February 4, 2009 - Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced today their decision to withdraw from the Dakar Rally, the Dakar Series and all cross-country rallies. In its twenty-six entries in the event, Mitsubishi Motors won the rally a total of twelve times, including seven consecutive victories. In addition to this unparalleled record the company also gained 4WD technology that informs its production vehicles, most visible in their durability and off road performance. The sudden deterioration of the global economy made it necessary for the company to focus its resources more tightly, and for this reason the decision was taken to withdraw its Mitsubishi Motorsports (MMSP) works team from all cross-country competitions.