Team Mitsubishi Ralliart will again compete in the Asia Cross Country Rally (AXCR) which it won last year. As with last year, Mitsubishi Motors’ Hiroshi Masuoka will serve as team director, while Chayapon Yotha (the champion driver of AXCR 2022) and Rifat Sungkar will be with the team again this year. They will be joined by Japanese driver Katsuhiko Taguchi, 51, who has been a member of the Mitsubishi Motors works team and taken part in many international rallies.
All-new Triton to be used
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart claimed overall victory last year in its first attempt at the AXCR, which will run its 28th edition this year. The team will enter three Tritons in T1 (prototype cross-country vehicles) category. These will be the latest Triton generation which will be launched very soon. The all-new Triton truck has been completely redesigned, including its body, frame, chassis, and engine, greatly increasing its competitive potential.
5 days of endurance testing
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart conducted rigorous endurance tests of the vehicles over 5 days in June on an off-road course near Khao Yai National Park in the heart of Thailand. The reliability and durability of the vehicles, primarily their bodies and engines, were confirmed over a total distance of about 800 kms during the course of the 5-day endurance test. The testing provided the engineers from Mitsubishi Motors to make adjustments in preparation for the actual competition.
“Based on the original strength of the all-new Triton, the handling performance, stability on rough roads, and ride comfort are further improved as a rally competition vehicle. In addition, the turbocharger has been improved to increase engine response throughout the entire rally range from low to high rpm, resulting in a powerful rally car that can handle any road conditions.” said Masuoka, who is a 2-time winner of the Dakar Rally.
“Team Mitsubishi Ralliart conducted the endurance test with a harder course setting than the actual rally conditions, but the testing vehicles were able to drive through about 800 kms each without any major initial troubles, confirming performance beyond our expectations and giving us a great confidence for our second consecutive championship,” he added.
2,000 km rally
The AXCR 2023 will be flagged off on August 13 in Pattaya and the route will go east, roughly parallel with the Cambodian border. The participants will enter Laos on August 17 and are scheduled to finish on August 19. This year’s course is said to have a great deal of variety, including mountainous areas, thick forests, muddy roads, river crossings, and more. As it will be held in the rainy season, muddy conditions are expected to be even more severe than last year. The total distance will be roughly 2,000 kms, including over 1,000 kms of Special Stages.