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Mitsubishi dumps Dakar

Crashing out: Last month's 2009 Dakar Rally was the last for Mitsubishi.

Motor sport dealt another blow as Mitsubishi ends its 26-year rally love affair

Mitsubishi logo5 Feb 2009

MITSUBISHI has abandoned its long-running and successful Dakar Rally program in a bid to save money in the face of the global recession.

Japan’s fourth-largest carmaker yesterday forecast a net loss of 60 billion yen ($A1.04 billion) in the financial year to the end of March – its first loss in three years – and at the same time announced its withdrawal from all cross-country rallies.

The company also announced executive pay cuts of up to 40 per cent and said it would scale back participation in motor shows.

Mitsubishi Motors president Osamu Masuko said the sudden deterioration of the global economy made it necessary for the company to focus its resources more tightly.

“It is extremely regrettable,” said a sombre Mr Masuko of the Dakar decision. “I am sorry for our fans. We were a good team.

“Since 2004, we continued to participate in the rally, even in difficult times, by cutting costs and we gained much technologically . It pains me to say that we will no longer be able to participate.”

Mitsubishi won the Dakar Rally 12 times in 26 attempts, including seven in a row before being beaten by Volkswagen in last month’s event (staged in South America for the first time after security problems forced organisers to abandon its traditional African route).

As well as the prestige of winning so often, the company said it also gained a great deal of technical knowledge about four-wheel-drive systems that helped its production vehicles.

 center imageMcLaren's Teddy Mayer (left) with Ron Dennis in 1980.

Still on motor sport, former McLaren team boss Teddy Mayer died at his home in England on January 30 at the age of 73.

An American lawyer whose brother Timmy was killed at Tasmania’s Longford circuit in the 1960s, Mayer took over running the McLaren team after founder Bruce McLaren was killed in 1970 and sold out to current owner Ron Dennis in 1982.

He guided McLaren through an enormously successful period on both sides of the Atlantic that included Can Am sports car titles, two Indianapolis 500 victories and two world Formula One championships – in 1974 with Emerson Fittipaldi and 1976 with James Hunt.

He is succeeded by his son Tim, who runs the popular American Le Mans Series in the US, and daughter Anne.

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