Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV became the first-ever plug-in hybrid SUV to participate in and complete the Australasian Safari in Western Australia at the weekend.

DRIVING IN THE PRODUCTION category A1.6, the Outlander PHEV, lightly modified and run by Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Australia, crossed the line in 19th place after missing almost two full days of competition. Despite finishing second last, the Outlander PHEV had been running in ninth place outright.

Setbacks, which ultimately kept the Outlander PHEV from finishing higher up the order, included missing an overnight service after Leg Four when its service truck suffered five consecutive flat tyres on a remote and particularly rough transport stage (and having to sit out Day Three), followed by a major impact on Leg Six that broke the Outlander PHEV’s front drive shaft and severely damaged its left front and rear suspension.

According to Mitsubishi, “The Outlander PHEV was rebuilt by TMR Australia overnight and recovered to record the second fastest time outright on the final special stage in wet, muddy conditions heading into Kalbarri”.

An Australasian Safari first-time competitor, TMR Australia Outlander PHEV driver Steve Glenney said the Dakar-style event was much more difficult than he could have imagined.

“It’s hard to appreciate just how difficult and punishing the Australasian Safari is until you’ve experienced it first hand – it’s an epic event,” he said.

“To put it into perspective, one leg of the Safari is equivalent to the kilometres travelled in a weekend-long Australian Rally Championship event, so we’ve effectively done six rounds of the ARC in one week.

“And throughout all of it, the Outlander PHEV has been an absolute star.  The high-torque motos and regenerative braking worked so well in slow-speed situations, and the Super All Wheel Control has been unbelievably effective in helping us climb out of steep river crossings and over sand dunes.

“We’ve absolutely loved the challenge of competing in the Safari and, despite everything we’ve thrown at it, the mighty Outlander PHEV hasn’t skipped a beat.”

TMR Australia Team Manager Alan Heaphy said: “We’re so impressed with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV completing the Australasian Safari rally – it’s the first plug-in hybrid to finish an Australian motorsport event and another record for us at TMR”.

“Thanks to Mitsubishi Motors for having the faith in us to put the program together and the dedicated team at TMR Australia for making it happen,” he said.

Practical Motoring will be talking with TMR Outlander PHEV driver Steve Glenney this week to get thoughts on the experience. Stay tuned.


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