This weekend saw the MML Sports Mitsubishi Lancer WRC World Rally Car return to mainland British rally stages for the first time in six years. Teenage driver Tom Cave took the car to second overall on the Cambrian Rally, the finale of the 2011 BTRDA Rally series.
Cave had already clinched the Production Cup category of the series and was looking to climb higher into the Gold Star driver standings and selected the MML Sports Lancer as his weapon of choice. A short pre-event test showed great promise, with the 19 year-old settling in to the car very quickly.
However, come the start of the rally, the team diagnosed a fault with the clutch unit and immediately swapped it, a process that takes just two minutes. But it soon became clear that the problem was a failing bearing within the gearbox, which meant that the clutch would not disengage and the car had to be started in gear to get moving.
Despite this, Cave put in a strong performance, once again demonstrating how easy it is to drive the Lancer WRC quickly out of the box. He took the scratch time on three of the eight stages and was only out of the top three once throughout the one-day event.
By the end of the rally, he claimed second place overall, nine seconds behind the eventual winner. He was also the first WRCar past the post, ahead of a further four WRCs that made up the entry field.
Commenting, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said: “It was fantastic to see the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC back on the British gravel stages after such a long absence. It’s also encouraging that it and Tom managed to beat the field of other world cars, demonstrating that the Lancer is still very competitive at this level.
“Of course, it’s frustrating that we had problems that cost Tom some time but he dealt with them in a very mature way and put in some fantastic stage times. I’m very pleased with the way the team dealt with the issues and hope that we might see the Lancer out on the British stages again.”
The MML Sports team was also in action in Holland at the weekend, with Bert de Jong at the wheel of his Lancer WRC on the Nederland Rally. He started as he meant to go on, setting top five stage times throughout the event. He began by holding second overall but was demoted to fourth on the sixth stage. He fought back, reclaiming third only to drop back to fourth again on the penultimate test. He eventually finished the rally in fourth, a tantalising seven seconds off the podium.
MML Sports’ next event is next weekend, as Jaroslav Melicharek contests Rally Kosice, the final round of the Slovakian series, in yet another MML Sports-run Mitsubishi Lancer WRC.