Citing corporate belt-tightening due to the financial crisis, Mitsubishi announced that it will not participate in the Dakar Rally or any other cross-country rallies in 2009.

It's not a lack of success that's causing Mitsubishi to drop out of the Dakar rally and other cross-country races for 2009. The brand cites the worldwide financial crisis and corporate belt-tightening as the reason it won't be competing in the races that helped to make it a household name in four-wheel drive performance.

Mitsubishi has fielded a factory team in twenty-six Dakar rallies, racking up a total of twelve victories, seven of them consecutive. Many of the durability and performance lessons learned on the grueling course found their way into production vehicles as well. Cross-country rallies provide an excellent proving ground and torture test for new innovations, after all. Nevertheless, the Mitsubishi works team won't be competing in the Dakar Series or the Dakar Rally this year.

There's no word as to the fate of the purpose-built racing Lancers that were to carry the Mitsubishi banner for the 2009 Dakar rally, scheduled to take place in South America.

As more and more corporate sponsors withdraw from motor racing, could we be seeing a return to the days when most racing cars were privately fielded?

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