21st Dakar Rally for the Japanese driver
Born March 13, 1960, in Saitama Prefecture, Japan. Japan's leading cross-country driver made his international debut on the Pharaohs Rally in 1985. He has been active on the Dakar Rally since 1987. The 2008 event marks his 21st participation
in the world's most difficult cross-country competition. He won the Modified Road Car class in 1990 and 1994, which was followed by the greater success in 2002 when he won outright. Hiroshi repeated his success the following year and was 2nd overall in 2004, but failed to finish in 2005 and 2006.
He is now more determined than ever to add a third win to his record after finishing 5th in the 2007 event despite a series of punctures and clutch problems. For the third consecutive year, his co-driver is Pascal Maimon (France) year who was with Masuoka when he clinched his first win in 2002.
"My 21st Dakar Rally is approaching. I am more than satisfied with the new car and the five-speed gearbox after completing an extensive test program in Morocco and at other venues. The gear ratios have been revised and fine-tuned. Modifications have also been made to the suspension setup and I feel that its ability to take rough terrain in its stride has been significantly upgraded compared with the previous car."
"My personal target is to bring Mitsubishi its eighth consecutive win and its 13th win in total.
After all, it's time for me to win again, isn't it? The competition will be very close and several drivers could win. It won't be easy for us to defend our title, but the 2008 route places the accent on dunes covered in deep sand, and that could play into the hands of the Pajero/Montero Evolution which is also excellent over rough terrain. I am looking forward to the challenge because driving over dunes is what I prefer."