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Thursday, 21 February 2013 00:00

New year, new base, same passion for motorsport

The start of 2013 has seen a lot of changes for MML Sports Ltd, the UK-based Rally and motorsport specialist which was formed from the works Mitsubishi rally team. A new base, new orders, new offers and new features all mean that MML Sports can offers customers the very best motorsport cars, parts and services possible.

The company moved from the factory it had been based in Rugby, when it was Ralliart Europe and latterly, Mitsubishi MotorSports, for more than two decades. Since Mitsubishi withdrew officially from rallying, MML Sports was formed and took over the fleet of Lancer World Rally Cars, as well as equipment, infrastructure and facilities that went with the former works operation.

It soon became apparent that the original premises were not appropriate for the company's new business and a move to more relevant facilities was undertaken. This began in late summer of 2012 but such was the heritage and enormous quantity of equipment, parts and hardware, combined with the building work necessary to the new property to create a state-of-the-art workshop, that this process took almost six months.

MML Sports is now in and operating from its new base in Daventry, UK, situated in the heart of the so-called 'Motorsport Valley' and perfectly located for transport, technology and testing resources.

Despite the move, which Managing Director John Easton described as, "Like moving house every day for six months", the company has also been hard at work moving its business forward while maintaining its existing client base. It has orders for brand new Mitsubishi Lancer World Rally Cars as well as Group N and R4 Lancer EvoXs and is currently in the process of rebuilding five Lancer WRCs - three for customers and its own two rental cars. It has also completely rebuilt the Suzuki SX4 World Rally Car it developed for Simpson Motors in the Caribbean, following a heavy roll towards the end of 2012.

In addition to new car work, it has also re-developed its IT infrastructure, replacing the traditional room full of computers required to run its design, build, test and stock systems with a single, desktop computer-sized server to manage all of its computing, including the new Sage stock and accounting systems. This integrates with the brand-new online webshop, which forms part of the MML Sports website and allows customers from around the world to order, from real-time stock levels, parts for both Group N and R4 builds and pay securely, ready for immediate despatch.

MML Sports can now also supply brand new Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX RS road cars, for customers to use as a base to build their own rally cars, either to Group N or R4 specification, using parts from MML Sports. Arrangements have been made for the lightweight models to be built to order in small production runs in the Mitsubishi factory with a lead-time of around three months.

Commenting, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said; "The last six months have been a bit of a blur, to be honest. Tackling any single aspect of the work we've done would have been hard enough but moving more than 20 years of equipment, hardware and memories was incredibly difficult, both logistically and emotionally. We celebrated a huge amount of success and a few heartaches in the building in Rugby and closing the door for the final time was quite a surreal experience.

"The move to Daventry has meant a fresh start for us though and we have been able to go through every aspect of the business to bring it up to date. This includes the latest IT and purchasing systems as well as developing every part of the workshop for its specific task. And while externally the building is much smaller than we were in before, it is exactly the same area as we were actually using for the business in Rugby so we are no longer supporting space that is unused or simply for storage.

"Of course, I am very pleased that the order book is so full. We have the work we knew that would be in for the start of the year - WRCar rebuilds for our rental cars as well as Bob and Bert de Jong from Holland and Tristan Bailey's car in the UK. We didn't envisage a full rebuild on the Suzuki though, with a lot of work in the bodyshop after a big roll last year. But that is coming together well and will be shipped back to the Caribbean for the start of the regional rally series.

"I am also delighted that we have orders for brand new cars; one World Rally Car and an R4 EvoX, along with virtually another complete car in sparescar. We are also supplying parts to Mitsubishi owners around the world on a daily basis and are looking forward to congratulating them when they achieve success in their respective series."

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