Mitsubishi rally specialists MML Sports Ltd will not be running its Group N Lancer EvoX on the Kerzume Rally next week as originally planned. The company has three other conflicting programmes on the same weekend, according to Managing Director John Easton and therefore, the EvoX’s next outing will be either in the UK or Latvia later in the season.
The Kerzume Rally was originally planned to be the next official outing for the MML Sports Lancer EvoX following its debut in Latvia in May. The car showed great potential at the hands of reigning British Rally Champion Guy Wilks but was hampered by faulty components and Kerzume was chosen as the next outing, following a comprehensive development programme over the summer.
However, since then, the MML Sports orderbook has filled up quickly and it has had to redirect resource to other existing and new customer projects over the same weekend and as such, can no longer run its own car on that particular event.
It will, however, be running local Ivars Vasaraudzis and co-driver Peteris Spredzis on the event. Ivars and Peteris will be standing in for regular Raimonds Kisiels, whose cannot make the event, but they are no strangers to rallying in Latvia or the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05. The pair won the Talsi Rally earlier this year in the Lancer, so will be firm favourites for next weekend.
However, they won’t have it all his own way, since one of former FIA World Rally Championship driver Markko Martin’s protégés will also be entering the event, in a Ford Focus World Rally Car. Therefore, the level of competition should be high, guaranteeing exceptional action for the fans.
MML Sports will also have several of its technicians in Indonesia, as it assists a local organisation prepare four Group N Lancer EvoXs for the domestic and Asia-Pacific championships, three of which will be running during September.
As if that wasn’t enough, the company will also be repairing the damage caused when reigning Hungarian Rally Champion Csaba Spitzmuller went off on the last round of the championship, the Allianz Rally two weeks ago. Spitzi apparently lost concentration in a medium-speed series of bends, slid wide on a second-gear corner and got stuck in a two metre-deep ditch and retired.
While the damage caused to the car is repairable, the tight timescales between the last and next round of the championship and the fact that the car had to return to the UK entailed a re-shelling exercise rather than more time-consuming repairs. The original shell will subsequently be repaired and returned to action when the work is complete.
Commenting on the news, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said; “Of course I’m disappointed that we won’t be able to enter the Kerzume Rally with the MML Sports EvoX but with everything that we have on at the moment, we cannot spare the resource to get the car ready or to the event. As frustrating as it is to miss that event, it’s encouraging that we are so busy.
“Clearly, the end of August and September are very busy for us. We have to concentrate on giving Spitzi the best chance to win his second title in a row, which is definitely possible. He is still second in the championship to Norbert Herczig with two rounds to go. With the dropped scores, he does need to beat Herczig on the last two rounds though, so that’s one area of focus.
“I think the next outing for the EvoX may well be in the UK, perhaps the Trackrod Rally Yorkshire, the last round of the British Rally Championship at the end of September. We may also enter the final round of the Latvian Championship, Rally Latvia, as it's the flagship event and the most competitive. That will really give us an idea of where the car is, in terms of its competitiveness.”
Just one week before the Trackrod Rally, the company will be in action running both the Group N EvoX and the Lancer WRC05 at Rallyday, with former Mitsubishi works driver Alister McRae at the wheel.