RALLIART is a name that motorsports enthusiasts, especially fans of off-road events, will know well.
It was the competition division of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) and associated with the Dakar Rally as well as the World Rally Championship.
The story of Ralliart did not actually start in Japan but in Europe. In the 1970s, Andrew Cowan, who drove Mitsubishi cars in many rallies worked closely with the factory.
The close relationship and his successes saw the establishment of the predecessor of the Ralliart organisation – Andrew Cowan Motor Sports (ACMS) – in 1983.
It provided services for MMC’s motorsports activities, especially in the World Rally Championship as well as the Dakar Rally.
It’s not clear when the Ralliart name started to appear although it was on Mitsubishi vehicles that participated in the early years of the Paris-Dakar Rally.
By the 1990s, the Ralliart name was strongly associated with Mitsubishi Motors and appeared on rally cars in international events.
MMC made the decision in 2002 to acquire ACMS and made it a subsidiary of the company directly involved in motorsports and related businesses.
Unfortunately, MMC went through difficult times in later years and had to reorganise itself, which led to the Ralliart division having to cease its operations in 2010.
However, in 2021, the company indicated that it would revive the Ralliart brand. Soon, we’ll see Team Mitsubishi Ralliart in action again, when it competes in the Asia Cross-Country Rally (AXCR) 2022.
Prior to the event, the team conducted endurance tests with a Triton on an off-road course in Thailand
The endurance tests subjected the car to high loads comparable to those expected in the rally and focused mainly on the reliability and durability of the chassis and engine.
To test the performance of the truck in an environment similar to that of the actual course, the team used a 10km course that combined a high-speed range, rough gravel road and a narrow, winding forest course.
AXCR is a gruelling, week-long, 2,000km cross-country rally that races through the natural terrain of Southeast Asia. Normally held in August of each year, the rally was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year, the dates for the rally were pushed back to Nov 21 to 26, and the course will be about 1,700kms long.
It will start in Buriram in the northeast of Thailand before crossing into Cambodia and ending at the World Heritage site of Angkor Wat.
The Triton is classified by the FIA as a Group T1 rally car (prototype cross-country vehicle).
Based on the Thailand-specification double-cab model, the car’s bonnet, front and rear doors, interior and other parts have been lightened, while the body has been strengthened with a roll-cage and under guards.
The dedicated suspension provides superb handling characteristics, while the front and rear limited-slip differential, large-diameter off-road tyres and lightweight alloy wheels greatly improve handling on rough road surfaces.
Tuning of the 2.4-litre turbodiesel engine focused on reducing friction loss and weight, and improving responsiveness in the mid-speed ranges frequently used in rallies.
Some AXCR stages include river crossings, so water-proofing modifications have also been added, such as stronger sealing and an air-intake snorkel.
“Since the Triton has a robust chassis frame and an excellent handling performance, we decided to reduce the vehicle weight at a minimum for the rally modification while leveraging its original strength as much as possible,” said Hiroshi Masuoka, team director of Team Mitsubishi Ralliart. – PISTON.MY