Friday, July 19, 2024

Mitsubishi Motors Brasil revives racing division

Mitsubishi Motors has been eager to get back into the cross-country rally scene since the turn of the decade. While their main division back home in Japan is preparing to defend their Asia Cross Country Rally championship after winning on début in 2022, Mitsubishi Motors Brasil has revived their racing arm for the 2023 Rally dos Sertões.

As part of their return, the manufacturer will provide factory support to Spinelli Racing‘s Mitsubishi L200 Triton Sport piloted by Guiga Spinelli and co-driver Paulo Fiuza. The two previously worked together in 2014 at the Baja España Aragón.

“It’s always an honour to be able to wear official Mitsubishi Motors overalls again, at a time when we celebrate the brand’s return as an official competitive team and also my return to the Rally dos Sertões,” said Spinelli. “My five titles in this race were won aboard a Mitsubishi vehicle, as well as my best result in Dakar. I am excited about this comeback with a view to future plans and confident that we will do our best.”

Mitsubishi Motors Brasil last raced in 2015, with Carlos Sousa and Fiuza finishing eighth overall in the Dakar Rally. The flagship company was a powerhouse at Dakar between 1984 and 2009, winning a record twelve times with the guidance of their racing department Ralliart. While Mitsubishis continued to race the Dakar over the next few years, they did not receive full factory backing as they did during Ralliart’s run.

Besides rally raid, Ralliart’s portfolio also includes four driver’s World Rally Championships and the manufacturer’s title in 1998. The name is also used for regional licencees like in Brazil, and Ralliart branding is thus also present on Spinelli’s Triton.

After Mitsubishi Motors Brasil ended their motorsport programme, Spinelli continued to race a Triton built by WCT Engineering and South Racing. WCT recently developed a variant of the Toyota Hilux T1+ for privateers, while South Racing fields Can-Am Mavericks in the T3 and T4 categories of the World Rally-raid Championship.

The Brazilian Triton is different from its Japanese counterpart, the latter more resembling the production version whereas the former is modelled after the prototypes that compete in T1. Nevertheless, the AXCR pickup is also a rally-spec vehicle built from scratch. A Triton Trophy Truck by TSCO won Australia’s Finke Desert Race in June.

Spinelli won the Sertões Rally in 2003, 2004, 2010, 2011, and 2014. He also has Dakar experience, running every year from 2009 through 2016 before returning in 2021. While he mainly drove his Triton during his eight-year run, Spinelli elected to race a Mini JCW Rally at the 2021 edition.

Besides their twelve Dakar wins, Mitsubishi also has as many Sertões Rally victories. The 2023 race will take place on 11–19 August.