While last weekend was one of the busiest in recent years for MML Sports, the company formed from what was the triumphant Mitsubishi works rally team, it was also a weekend full of achievement. Not only did the company complete a successful initial test of its Group N Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX, it also ran reigning Hungarian Rally Champion Csaba Spitzmuller to victory on the opening round of the 2009 series.
The Group N EvoX test took place at Walters Arena, the venue for several of the stages forming the UK round of the FIA World Rally Championship. The company chose to use two roads, one fast and flowing and the other, tighter, twistier and rougher, as it sought to develop a base set-up for the car.
The main objective of the two days was for test driver Lasse Lampi to work with damper supplier BOS to develop initial settings and a fundamentally balanced chassis, ready for former British Champion Guy Wilks to further refine the car set-up prior to its competition debut in Latvia in May.
Before this test, MML Sports was unsure how the BOS dampers, used on the Mitsubishi World Rally Cars since 2005, would suit the group N car. As it transpired, very well over both types of road. The team assessed a variety of dampers, with various valving options, arriving at a base setting that would allow adjustment in either direction once fitted to the car.
In addition to the damper settings, MML Sports was also able to develop initial differential settings over the 200Km test. The company now has a clear direction of how to further develop and refine the settings ready for its competition debut.
While half the company was in Wales testing, the other was in Hungary helping ‘Spitzi’ prepare to open his 2009 campaign defending his national title, which he won for the first time last year when using the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC05 run by MML Sports.
As is tradition, the Eger Rally began with a prologue stage through the centre of the local town on Friday evening, before 12 stages, eight on Saturday and the remaining four on Sunday.
Spitzi faced some stiff competition, in the form of a pair of Subaru Impreza World Rally Cars, both more recent than his Mitsubishi. However, this didn’t stop him from assuming the overall lead of the event from the second stage and maintaining it throughout the rally to the finish ramp. He eventually won the rally with a 13.8 second lead, which he carefully maintained over the course of the two days to ensure he took the win without risking problems on the first event of the year.
Commenting on the weekend, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said: “It was a busy few days for us all at MML Sports but ultimately, extremely successful. The first test of the Group N EvoX went very well and we achieved more than we hoped over the two days.
“This was the first time we have used WRC dampers on a Group N car and the results were excellent. Having BOS in attendance meant that we could be re-valving one set of dampers while another was being tested on the car and then carry out direct comparisons very quickly to arrive at the base set-up.
“I’m also very pleased that Spitzi was able to get his 2009 campaign started with a convincing win. He led from almost the start in the car that he used last year to seal the title, so we’re hopeful that he will be able to take his second successive title at the wheel of what we feel is still a competitive world rally car at a national level.
“While things will calm down for us a little this month, it all gets busy again towards May, with another tarmac event for Spitzi before the first of two tests we have planned for Guy in the EvoX to prepare for the Talsi rally. He’ll carry out one test here in the UK before a pre-event test in Latvia immediately prior to the start of the event.
“I’m delighted with the outcome of the both the test and the Eger rally; it gives us a huge boost and we are very excited about both the next round of the Hungarian championship and the EvoX’s competition debut next month.”