Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) entered a fifth-generation Triton during last year's event to prove to sceptics that the Triton, in as near stock condition as allowed by the event organisers, would be able to hold its own against other heavily modified vehicles at the starting line-up with the must-haves of a winch, snorkel, and a set of Extreme Terrain (XT) tyres.
Following its successful outing in 2015, MMM returned this year by fielding four new Tritons as corporate vehicles, including two units of the recently launched Triton 2.4 with a MIVEC Turbo Diesel Engine.
The Mitsubishi Tritons were driven by six members of the media as well as five Triton owners - including Malaysia motorsport athlete Leona Chin. All participants and vehicles from Team Mitsubishi Triton managed to navigate the 400km route through the jungle to the finish line without any vehicle parts changes throughout the journey.
“As the only female driver of Team Mitsubishi Triton, I was extremely proud to be entrusted by Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia, to champion the new Triton into the most gruelling off-road and 4x4 adventure! The new Triton managed to complete the Borneo Safari in one piece without any mechanical failure or breakdown. This itself is a testament to the strength, durability and endurance of the Mitsubishi Triton,” said Chin.
To put that achievement in its proper context, many other vehicles, including the highly upgraded ones, suffered from a large variety of mechanical issues and breakdowns, some of which necessitated going out back to town to purchase new parts and returning to the jungle to repair the vehicles.
“We are very proud of Team Mitsubishi Triton conquering the trails of Borneo Safari for the second consecutive year. We were told that this year’s Borneo Safari was the toughest since 2007 and it’s an achievement for the New Triton with MIVEC Turbo Diesel engine for being able to overcome this challenge,” said Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia CEO Tomoyuki Shinnishi.
The terrain and weather conspired to serve up a “perfect storm” of challenges that had everyone raving that this year had been the toughest, and hence, the best Borneo Safari yet.
Conditions were extremely arduous that the scout team reported back after having made just 1.7km of progress from the start line in half a day.
“There were frightening reports filtered through the radios – cars were overturning, descending slopes so steep and slippery that had to be lowered gingerly by a winch line from the vehicle behind, breakdowns and repairs,” said Triton Adventure owner Albert John Banico during the Safari.
“Though slipping and sliding, the Tritons took on each challenge and overcame each obstacle, one at a time. Co-drivers had to overcome gooey mud that was usually ankle-deep, and at times sucked in legs up to the knee,” he added.
Every participating Triton was outfitted with the compulsory equipment such as winch, protection bars, recovery points, extreme tyres, suspension and snorkel. The tyres for the Tritons were sponsored by Giti - a global tyre manufacturing company.
“As the days passed and time ran short, greater urgency pushed the convoy to keep going, even after sundown. Driving and winching and crossing rickety make-shift log bridges in the dark, with intermittent rain, with no end in sight,” said participating media Arvinda Kumar for Team Mitsubishi Triton.
He added, “There were also vehicles which were stuck on a narrow trail with no space on either side for setting up camp, everyone fell asleep where they sat in the cars as exhaustion overcame the discomfort of sitting upright while still muddy and grimy from the exertions of the previous day. Though the difficulties, this was a great experience and we are proud that the Triton managed to pass through this endurance test.”
After several gruelling 4x4 adventure days, all nine Tritons came out of the jungle in time for the Borneo Safari closing ceremony.
Though the Triton managed through with some scratches and battle scars, there were no mechanical issues and through it all, the Tritons and its drivers, prevailed in good spirits after having proven itself once more, to pass through the durability and endurance test.