The Baja Portalegre 500 cross-country rally is being held in the Portalegre municipality of the Alentejo region in the eastern part of Portugal, near the Spanish border. Organised by the Portuguese Automobile Association, official competition vehicle inspections took place on Thursday this week ahead of the rally beginning. The Outlander plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV), Mitsubishi Motors’ rally car, passed without any problems and is the only entrant in the newly-established TE class.
The Outlander PHEV rally car is based on the production model but has been modified to comply with race regulations. It uses the main components of the production model’s PHEV system, but with changes made to the control systems for the rally. The front and rear electric motors deliver more power, the petrol engine has a higher RPM, the drive battery is larger in capacity and the generator produces more electric power to provide higher overall performance. Increased traction is made possible via changes to the control system governing the Twin Motor 4WD system, which utilises know-how built up through the S-AWC integrated vehicle dynamics control system employed in the Lancer Evolution series. Ground clearance and suspension stroke have been increased and the use of larger rally tyres have improved off-road performance. This enables the driver to extract the full potential of the up-rated performance of the PHEV and Twin Motor 4WD systems.
Mitsubishi Motors’ staff member Hiroshi Masuoka is driving the Outlander PHEV. He was a two-time winner of the world’s toughest race, the Dakar Rally, in 2002 and 2003. The Japanese national is also serving as the Team Captain in Portugal. His co-driver is Frenchman Pascal Maimon, with whom Masuoka won his first Dakar in 2002. Providing technical support is Technical Director Yasuo Tanaka of the MMC EV Component Research Department. Four staff members from the same department are serving as engineers. The rally team is aiming to extract the full potential from the Outlander PHEV to complete the rally and finish amongst the top teams.