After the cancellation of the Dakar Rally due to terrorist threats, the Amaury Sport Organization decided to bump up its launch of the Dakar Series, a new campaign that attempts to bring the thrills of the Dakar to venues around the globe.

The first event of the series, the Central Europe Rally, will begin on April 20th and run through the 26th, and Mitsubishi is one of the first major teams to confirm participation. Mitsubishi walked away with the Dakar title last year and had already been signed up to compete in the traditional Dakar Rally before its untimely demise. The Central Europe Rally won't replace the Dakar event, as it's been rescheduled for a future date in South America.

Mitsubishi's press release is posted after the jump with the team's complete driver lineup. And we're still waiting to see if BMW, Volkswagen and KTM are planning to participate.

PRESS RELEASE

MITSUBISHI SET TO ENTER EUROPEAN RALLY MOTORSPORT

* Mitsubishi prepares to dominate performance rallying in Central Europe and South America.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation have announced today that Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart will be entering the Central Europe Rally.

The Mitsubishi team who have proven to be dominant on the Dakar series over the last few years, have been given the opportunity to conquer Central Europe as well as currently holding the prestigious Dakar title (2007).

The driver line-up will feature Luc Alphand / Gilles Picard (France), Hiroshi Masuoka / Pascal Maimon (Japan / France), Stéphane Peterhansel / Jean-Paul Cottret (France) and Joan Nani Roma / Lucas Cruz (Spain), who had all been entered to compete in the 2008 Dakar.

The Central Europe Rally is due to start in Budapest, Hungary, on Sunday April 20, and its program includes seven competitive sections in Hungary and Romania before the finish beside Lake Balaton on Saturday April 26. The Central European Rally is under half the distance covered of the Dakar Rally, with only 1,570km of against the clock action.

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