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MML Sports Limited - News from events and new part sales information
Monday, 31 March 2014 11:41

Trinidad win launches April Fuel for MML Sports

Hot off the back of a win for the Simpson Motors rally team on Rally Trinidad, using the Suzuki SX4 built and run by MML Sports, the British company is embarking on one of the busiest months of motorsport since its inception in 2009. Five rallies over three weekends will see all available staff literally working around the world.

This weekend's win in Trinidad for Neil Armstrong in the Suzuki SX4 World Rally Car was the first outing of the season and got the year underway in the perfect fashion, for Armstrong, the Simpson team and of course, MML Sports.

After a string of stage wins, Armstrong and co-driver Barry Ward took the overall honours, the first of the season for the local team.

This coming weekend, 5/6 April, will see the first round of the French gravel rally championship and the first outing for local Cyrille Feraud in his Mitsubishi Lancer WRC. Having contested the championship several times in Group N, Cyrille is stepping up to a World Rally Car for the first time and will carry out a one-day test ahead of the rally start.

The following weekend, 12/13 April, will see the busiest for the MML Sports team. Firstly, it is the first round that the new Team Kibos car will contest in the FIA African Rally Championship, the SASOL Rally South Africa, using the brand new Safari-specification Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX, built by MML Sports.

The same weekend, the team will be in action again in the Caribbean, on the Warm Up Rally in Barbados, again with the Simpson Motors team and the Suzuki SX4. And finally, this weekend also sees the first round of the Belgian Rally Championship, the TAC Rally, which will see the reigning Dutch Rally Champion Bob de Jong back at the wheel of his MML Sports-supported Lancer WRC. This means the company will be running Suzuki and Mitsubishi World Rally Cars and a Mitsubishi Group N car over the same weekend, on three continents.

Two weeks later, the company will again be spread across two continents, at the Rallye de Wallonie in Belgium, again with de Jong and the Mombasa Rally, the fourth round of the Kenyan series and the first of the season for the new Group N EvoX for Team Kibos.

Commenting, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said; "April is going to be a pretty hectic month for us this year but we're used to it and it's this kind of programme that brings the best out of everyone - it's what we have been used to all of our careers.

"It will be very interesting to see how Cyrille can go in the Lancer world car. We know he is quick and we also know that the Lancer is a fairly easy car to drive quickly, so I hope that we can expect a good debut from him on his home series.

"We're also really looking forward to getting back out to the Caribbean. Neil and the team had a fantastic result on the Trinidad Rally this weekend to start the season perfectly and I'm confident that we will be able to maintain that sort of performance when we get to Barbados.

"Of course, I am looking forward to seeing how Jasse can go in the brand-new Group N car we built for the African championship. I am confident that the car will be competitive and reliable, so he and the team will have all the tools they need to put in a really good performance.

"Bob, we know, is a very quick driver and consistent as well - you don't get to be the Dutch Rally Champion by being anything else and it's a very competitive field. I hope that he will be able to get a good result under his belt on the first round of the Belgian championship as he targets that series title this year."
Published in 2014 News
Thursday, 27 March 2014 15:49

On Safari

With the demise of the famous, or even infamous, Safari Rally from the FIA World Rally Championship, you'd be forgiven for thinking that cars built to the unique specification required to not only survive but succeed on arguably the toughest event ever to feature in the WRC would have also disappeared. But in fact, this is far from the case, with British company MML Sports developing and building Safari-spec Mitsubishi rally cars for the 21st Century.

The company was recently approached by the Team Kibos rally team and asked to supply two Group N Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX rally cars; one for the Kenyan Rally Championship and one for the FIA African Rally Championship. The two cars were built to identical, Safari-specification with the only difference between the two being in the livery, with one series’ door plates larger than the other.

It’s no surprise that MML Sports knows what it’s doing when it comes to building rally cars to survive the toughest conditions on the African continent. In its previous guise as Ralliart Europe, which ran the works Mitsubishi team, it took four wins while the event was part of the WRC and a Mitsubishi has won the event, which continues to run as part of the African series, eight times in the last ten years.

When Kibos first approached MML Sports, they were already running a Group N EvoX but limitations were causing the team problems. So MML Sports applied its experience and expertise to its existing Group N specification to ensure that the two cars headed for Africa would prove both competitive and reliable.

Works began on the base cars, with additional strengthening in the bodyshell thanks to seam welding all of the main joints within the standard shell. Suspension, engine and transmission crossmembers are also strengthened in the same way, with seams and joins re-made to increase reliability. Grooves for eccentric bolts, used to adjust suspension geometry and usually pressed into the material of the crossmembers, are flattened and much thicker, fabricated guides added.

Underneath the car is more protection than the company adds to what it calls its European-specification Group N. The rear exhaust system is strengthened while the composite skid protection on the bottom of the bodyshell extends the full length of the floorpan, instead of halfway along on the European cars.

The rear differential guard is stronger than the Euro-spec item while the front sump guard is considerably uprated from both MML Sports’ Euro kit and the item that was fitted to Team Kibos’ previous car. Fabricated from 8mm aluminium as opposed to composite, this extends from the leading edge of the front bumper to behind the main engine and transmission to provide complete protection from impacts under the engine.

Both the mounting area on the sump guard and those on the front crossmember are reinforced while shock-absorbing material is also fitted in the gap directly between the oil sump and the guard itself.

The result is an increase in ground clearance of more than 40mm using the MML Sports under-body protection, which provides not only a greater degree of protection for the underside of the car but also, means less time for the car bottoming-out on the sump guard and hence, more time with the tyres in contact with the road surface.

The Reiger dampers fitted to the cars have been specifically developed for the rough African conditions and will cope with extremely high-speed movement, typical with wheels and tyres rolling over large rocks or dropping into pot-holes. The suspension mounting points have also been strengthened to cope with these enormous shock loadings which can lead to famous images of cars arriving at the end of sections with suspension legs protruding from their bonnets.

MML Sports Managing Director John Easton estimates that the MML Sports Safari-specification Group N EvoX will weight approximately 40-45Kg more than its European counterpart. However, he also feels that this is a small price to pay for the additional reliability and durability that the car will exhibit. It can also potentially be offset by developing a strategy to run the car with the right fuel load and number of spare tyres, for example, to suit the conditions.

The first outing for the Team Kibos cars will be Sasol Rally South Africa on April 11/12 and MML Sports will be supporting the team, with technical and strategic assistance at each event. Of course, the highlight of the year is likely to be the KCB Safari Rally, which forms part of both the FIA African Rally Championship and the Kenyan Rally Championship, over the weekend of 12-14 September 2014.

Published in 2014 News
Friday, 07 March 2014 13:02

Busy season start for MML Sports

Following a short break for Christmas and New Year, 2014 got off to a fast start for MML Sports, the UK-based motorsport preparation specialist. The company is preparing rally cars for three new competition programmes, as well as continuing two existing programmes with cars re-prepared over the short winter break.

Following a series of successful meetings in the run-up to Christmas, the company has recently completed two brand new Group N Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX rally cars; one for use in the Kenyan Rally Championship and one for the FIA African Rally Championship.

Both cars will be driven by Jaspreet 'Jassi' Chatthe, who last year contested both series in another EvoX. He achieved a series of consistent finishes in the Kenyan series, claiming second and third places. He also contested three events in the African series but car failure on each meant three retirements.

MML Sports is preparing two Group N Lancer EvoXs, one for each of the two series and each with a bespoke livery, although to identical Safari specifications. The African championship, in particular, features several famous events, including the Cote d'Ivoire and the Safari Rally Kenya, both of which place enormous stresses and strains on competing cars.

However, with its experience and expertise, born out of decades competing in the FIA World Rally Championship, MML Sports is confident that it will be able to provide Chatthe with a car that is both reliable and competitive.

The company has also agreed terms with French driver Cyrille Feraud to supply him with a Mitsubishi Lancer WRC to contest the French Gravel Rally Championship in 2014. The car will belong to Feraud but will be run on-event by MML Sports for the duration of the season and any testing Feraud undertakes.

Feraud contested the French championship for the last five years, finishing 10th in 2013 at the wheel of a Group N Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX. However, the upgrade to the Lancer WRC will enhance his chances of event podiums and of a good result in this year's championship.

The company will again run Bob de Jong's Lancer WRC as the newly-crowned Dutch Rally Champion targets a season of competition in Belgium while the Simpsons' Motors Suzuki SX4 WRC will again compete in the Caribbean, with Neil Armstrong at the wheel.

Commenting, MML Sports Managing Director, John Easton, said; "If the start of the year is anything to go by, then it will be our busiest yet. To build two brand new cars for the African and Kenyan championships is one thing. To be running both cars on-event is something else altogether and we are very excited to be back rallying on the African continent this year.

"We are also looking forward to working with Cyrille in the French gravel championship with a Lancer WRC world car. We met with Cyrille just before Christmas and he is very keen to start working on the series, ahead of the first of the six rounds in April.

"I'm very happy that we will be working with Bob again this year; he did very well last year to win the Dutch championship and is now keen to move into Belgium to try to do the same there. The Simpsons Motors team is also going to be competing again this year with Neil Armstrong in the Suzuki SX4 WRC that we developed and I'm keen to see that succeed in both the regional and national events."
Published in 2014 News
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