New Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross Prototype Faces 2019 Dakar Rally
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is a throwback to the original Mitsubishi Eclipse. Reviews for the Eclipse Cross have been kind, but we know many were sad to see the sports car go crossover. Once the name of a sports car, even a horse, the Mitsubishi Eclipse has a great history. Well, the glory days for this once sports car are not yet over. The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross T1 prototype is set to compete in the 2019 Dakar Rally.
2019 Dakar Rally
An annually held rally raid organized by the Amaury Sport Organisation, the Dakar Rally has been going on since its first inception in 1978 at Paris, France. Unlike most races, this is actually an off-road endurance event. Yes, you read that correctly. Drivers will face greater challenges than they do on conventional raceways.
Made up of diverse terrain, the Dakar Rally is made for true off-road vehicles, not just vehicles modified to go off-road. Vehicles made for going off-road are made for crossing dunes, mud, camel grass, rocks, and desert land – all of which can be found as special sections throughout the rally. Each section, or stage, is anywhere between 500-560 miles, per day of the event.
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross T1 Prototype
Some may be wondering, “Off-road endurance test? Why would they take the Eclipse Cross to the rally? It’s a crossover, and certainly not one for going off-road.” Yeah, that’s true. But in an effort to give the Eclipse Cross more love, Mitsubishi Motors is trading out its usual competitor, the Mitsubishi Pajero (the European version of the Outlander), for the Eclipse Cross. Looking at the picture above though, the Eclipse Cross looks like it can handle the off-road endurance test.
Keep in mind though, that this isn’t the usual Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross. This is a prototype with the moniker “T1” to set it apart from the rest of the lineup. In the past, the legendary Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution won the Dakar Rally twelve times – more than any other manufacturer. The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross T1 prototype already has large shoes to fill.
Built around a steel space frame chassis with a carbon fiber body, the Eclipse Cross T1 employs a double wishbone suspension with two fully-adjustable Öhlins Racing dampers on each wheel. A full-time four-wheel drive system that uses a mechanical centre differential and limited slip differentials in the front and rear has been added to help transmit all 340 horsepower and 505 lb-ft of torque from the turbo-diesel engine, along with a six-speed sequential transmission. Four-piston AP Racing brakes can be found on each wheel to increase stopping power.
The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross T1 prototype will be driven by talented Spanish driver Cristina Gutierrez and co-driven by compatriot Pablo Huete. Backed by Mitsubishi Motors Spain for the past four years, Gutierrez was the first Spanish woman to complete the Dakar in a car in 2017 and was the highest placed female driver in 2018. So far, she seems pretty excited to get behind the wheel of the new T1 prototype.
“For me, it is a big step ahead compared to the previous years. You can go very fast with it, while it is easier to drive and has greater off road capabilities. It’s the most spectacular car I’ve ever driven and attracts a lot of attention!” – Gutierrez
This year, the Dakar Rally will be taking place in Peru. Drivers will be facing over 3000 miles of off-road terrain to test their vehicles endurance across ten stages, 70-percent of which is desert sand. The 2019 Dakar Rally will start January 6, 2019 and complete on the 17th. Stay tuned to University Mitsubishi social media for all the updates, and follow the hashtag #CrisToDakar. Interested in the Eclipse Cross? Find it at University Mitsubishi.