Ricardo, a leading independent automotive engineering consultancy, claimed its first Dakar rally victory on Sunday with its first ever entry of a complete transmission designed for the Mitsubishi Motors Cross Country team.
The compact, lightweight and technologically advanced transmission was supplied for the Mitsubishi Pajero* Evolution, and driven to overall victory by Hiroshi Masuoka of Japan and German co-driver Andreas Schultz. The same transmission design was similarly installed in a second Mitsubishi Pajero* Evolution driven to third position by the French team Stéphane Peterhansel and co-driver Jean-Paul Cottret.
Having mostly led the race, the Peterhansel-Cottret team began the closing stages on Saturday in first place with a margin of nearly 26 minutes. Masuoka and Schultz, however, were assured victory after Peterhansel hit a rock in the Sinai desert. The transmission held up, but the incident wrecked his front left wheel denying him ultimate victory.
"It was important for Mitsubishi Motors to win this 25th Dakar rally and we’re delighted our new transmission has helped their Cross Country team achieve its objective," said Gerald Andrews, managing director Ricardo Motorsport and an executive director of parent company Ricardo plc. "Our congratulations go to Masuoka and Schultz and commiserations of course to Peterhansel and Cottret. It was a close race."
"Mechanical integrity and reliability are paramount to success in motorsport and never more so with the transmission and driveline, which is a complex system. We were confident in our design and delighted the transmission proved its worth in the two Mitsubishis."
The Dakar rally is the toughest and most gruelling mechanical race in the world, requiring extraordinary component and system reliability. The 10,000-kilometre annual event runs for almost three weeks, with 343 trucks, cars and motorbikes this year tackling some of the harshest conditions on earth – with barely half of them finishing.
In planning for the 2003 rally, Mitsubishi Motors approached Ricardo for its technical capability and experience of supplying driveline and transmission systems for motorsport and high performance vehicles.
"Being a supplier of all-wheel-drive differential systems to Mitsubishi for many years, their Cross Country team asked us to provide a unique transmission with a number of special features specific to the transmission requirements for this type of event," says Mark Barge, director of Ricardo Motorsport.
The Mitsubishi gearbox was designed by using advanced software and with the backing of Ricardo’s experienced engineering team enabling a ‘right first time design’ as witnessed by the transmission’s victory in its very first event the UAE Marlboro Desert Challenge 2002 in November. The transmissions were engineered, manufactured and hand assembled by Ricardo at the company’s Midlands Technical Centre at Royal Leamington Spa in the UK.Published 21 January 2003