Mitsubishi Pulls out of Dakar Rally

Mitsubishi Pulls out of Dakar Rally

Citing the global financial crisis, Mitsubishi Motors has just announced that it will pull out of all cross-country rally races for 2009, including the Dakar Rally. In a statement the company said that, “The sudden deterioration of the global economy made it necessary for the company to focus its resources more tightly.”

The news comes just after Mitsubishi announced it expects to post a 60 billion yen ($674 million) loss for the past fiscal year.

The move away from Dakar is particularly shocking considering the company’s strong presence in the event and its winning history. In 26 entries Mitsubishi has won the Dakar Rally 12 times , including seven consecutive victories from 2001-07.

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Involvement in rally racing has also been a major part of Mitsubishi’s engineering and marketing efforts, with this grueling form of motorsports proving to be a valuable format for developing and testing new technologies (particularly 4WD and AWD technologies) – something that Mitsubishi often relies on in it’s advertising efforts.

Mitsubishi now joins the growing ranks of auto manufacturers that have pulled from motorsports over the past few months. Recently both Subaru and Suzuki pulled out of the World Rally Championship, Honda left Formula 1 and Audi announced it would not be competing in the American Le Mans Series.

Official release after the jump:

Mitsubishi Motors to withdraw from Dakar Rally
TOKYO, February 4, 2009 — Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) announced today their decision to withdraw from Cross Country Rallying, starting with the legendary Dakar Rally.

In its 26 entries in this event, Mitsubishi Motors won the rally a total of 12 times, including seven consecutive victories. In addition to this unparalleled record the company also gained 4WD technology that informs its production vehicles, most visible in their durability and off road performance.

The sudden deterioration of the global economy made it necessary for the company to focus its resources more tightly, leading to today’s announcement.