Rally cars prepared by British automotive and motorsport specialist MML Sports have already begun claiming victories this season, just a handful of events into the year.
Chris van Woensel took the win on his first outing on the Rallye National Epernay Vins de Champagne over the first weekend of April. Having claimed one win in 2016 in his MML Sports-prepared Mitsubishi Lancer WRC, he set out his stall early, taking the fastest time on eight of the rally’s 13 stages to lead from the second test. He eventually won the event by more than a minute, ahead of Raphael Bouchy in a Citroen DS3 World Rally Car.
Meanwhile, Team Kibos’ Jaspreet Chatthe was again at the wheel of his MML Sports-prepared Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX R4, contesting both the FIA African and the Kenyan rally championships, each of which he won in 2015.
Once again, Jassi’s pace was unquestionable but circumstances conspired to prevent this pace becoming a representative result. On the famous Safari Rally, an uncharacteristic error meant he went the wrong way on a stage and was given a ten-minute penalty as a result. This meant that he eventually finished sixth overall and 8m26s behind the winner. Clearly, without the penalty, he would have claimed a dominant win for the third time in his career.
In addition, a rare mistake in the third round of the ARC, the South Africa Rally, meant he went off the road while leading the event again and lost some 19 minutes before he could regain the stage. Even with this time loss, he was still classified third in the ARC standings, so instead of a healthy lead, he now occupies second place after three of the seven rounds.
Commenting, MML Sports Managing Director, John Easton, said: “It was great to kick off Chris’ year with a win – nothing sets you up for a season better than a win first time out.
“Jassi had a bit of a rude awakening at the start of the year, missing out on another win on the Safari Rally and then, a mistake costing him the win again in South Africa. But we’re in a solid second place and there are four rounds to go in the African Rally Championship, so I’m hopeful that we can regain lost ground by the end of the year and add another trophy to Team Kibos’ and MML Sports’ cabinets.”