The Dakar was conceived in 1978 as the brainchild of the late Frenchman Thierry Sabine, and Mitsubishi entered for the first time five years later. But the Japanese marque had to wait until 1985 to take the first of its eight wins, courtesy of Frenchman Patrick Zaniroli and co-driver Jean da Silva.
Mitsubishi is the most successful car manufacturer in the history of the Dakar Rally and has taken eight wins to date. The team is unbeaten since 2001, having taken victory in the last three years, and has filled all three podium places on four occasions – 1992, 1997, 1998 and 2002.
Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports (MMSP) team driver Stephane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret clinched victory in the 2004 Telefonica Dakar Rally today (Sunday). The 38-year-old Frenchman’s triumph at the wheel of a Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolution marked a fourth successive win for the Japanese manufacturer and a record-breaking ninth overall victory for the Pont-de-Vaux-based MMSP factory team.
Peterhansel also became only the second individual in Dakar history to win the worlds most famous endurance rally on a bike and in a car (Hubert Auriol won two bike titles and the 1992 Paris to Cape Town Rally for the Mitsubishi team).
Defending champion and team mate Hiroshi Masuoka, partnered by Gilles Picard, finished runner-up in the second of the Mitsubishi Pajero/Montero Evolutions, 49m 24s behind Peterhansel. The Japanese former leader had shadowed his team mate since losing more than an hour with a transmission problem on the Atar to Tidjikja stage in Mauritania last week.