The Return Beyond Decals

Around this time last year, Mitsubishi announced the return of Ralliart. The storied performance brand, which was discontinued over a decade ago and embodied what the automaker can do beyond its passenger vehicles, was set to be revived. It was exciting – until Mitsubishi revealed the first set of Ralliart branded trucks and SUVs that are nothing more than just stickers.

That has changed since Mitsubishi announced that it’s joining the Asia Cross Country Rally (AXCR) this year. Not only that, its entry will be a modified Strada (or Triton, as it’s called in Thailand), specifically built for the contest.

Finally, Mitsubishi Ralliart will be back where it truly belongs – rally racing.

And with an invitation from Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC), I have been invited along with more than a handful of media personnel to see Team Mitsubishi Ralliart’s entry to AXCR in the metal and witness the flag-off.

Asia Country Cross Rally 2022

The Asia Cross Country Rally or Asian Rally (or just AXCR) is now on its 27th installment. The FIA-certified annual cross-country rally covers 1,056 miles (1,700 kilometers) of all types of terrain from the Kingdom of Thailand to the Kingdom of Cambodia, ranging from mountain, jungle, swamp, beachside, river, desert, plantation, tarmac, and even circuit together with the unpredictable weather conditions in this part of the globe.

The race is currently happening and is expected to reach the final stage on November 26. Before we head back to Manila, Team Mitsubishi Ralliart has already gained momentum, bagging the top spot overall. 

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart

As the only brand-backed team to join the AXCR 2022, Team Mitsubishi Ralliart has a huge responsibility at hand. After all, the team is Mitsubishi Motors Corporation for technical support, so there’s a lot at stake. It’s run by Thailand’s Tant Sports, a private firm.

But on the helm of that responsibility is none other than Team Director Hiroshi Masuoka – a back-to-back Dakar rally Champion from 2002 to 2003. If you’re a fan of the gruesomely famous rally race, you know that it’s a big deal.

Team Mitsubishi Ralliart’s drivers are Rifat Sungkar, Chayapon Yotha, and Sakchai Hantrakul. Co-drivers are Chupong Chaiwan, Peerapong Sambutwong, and Kittisak Klinchan. Only Sungkar is from Indonesia; the rest of the contenders are from Thailand.

Mitsubishi Strada Ralliart

The Triton/Strada Ralliart rally car is classified as an FIA Group T1 rally car. It has its weight reduced plus other modifications; it capitalizes on the Strada’s strengths, which are its robust chassis frame and excellent handling. 

In other words, this car is more than just decals but a true representation of Ralliart’s return.

Among the bevy of upgrades are lightened hood and doors that are made out of carbon fiber; strengthened chassis with a roll cage and underguards; slightly tuned 4N15 2.4L turbocharged diesel engine with MIVEC; and rear seat delete among other obvious interior upgrades necessary for racing.

Speaking of the engine, the turbo 4N15 diesel mill still makes 178hp and 430Nm of torque. However, the tuning focused on reducing friction and improving responsiveness in the mid-speed range. Power is routed through a 6-speed manual transmission with a 4×4 drivetrain, courtesy of the Super Select 4WD-II found in the production Strada and Montero Sport.

Other mechanical upgrades include Cusco front and rear LSD, Cusco adjustable front and rear dampers, Endless front and rear ventilated disc brakes with 4-piston calipers, and a set of Work 17-inch aluminum alloy wheels wrapped in Yokohama Geolander tires

According to MMPC, these upgrades are possible to be employed on a production Strada pickup truck. However, sourcing the parts will be tedious (and costly) but if your bank accounts can, it’s possible.

It’s hard to tell whether Mitsubishi will eventually offer a performance version of the Strada or Triton based on the rally car we just saw this week. With the next-generation model currently under development, the company could be considering this for the upcoming version. Of course, it’s a matter of demand and profitability, but considering the success of the Ford Ranger Raptor in the Philippines, we won’t be surprised if they will.

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