The Mitsubishi Motors UK Rally Team commences the defence of its British Rally Championship drivers and teams titles this weekend, when its two works drivers Guy Wilks and Phillip Morrow contest the opening round, the Carlisle-based Pirelli ...
The Mitsubishi Motors UK Rally Team commences the defence of its British Rally Championship drivers and teams titles this weekend, when its two works drivers Guy Wilks and Phillip Morrow contest the opening round, the Carlisle-based Pirelli Rally.
After a stunning year with the Mitsubishi team in 2007, recording five wins out of seven rounds, reigning British Champion Guy Wilks is back for a second season and has just one thing on his mind - to retain his and Mitsubishi's crowns.
He is joined this year by 24-year old Ulsterman Phillip Morrow, who earned his seat with the works team after winning last year's Mitsubishi Ralliart Evolution Challenge, the highly competitive one-make series for Group N (production specification) Mitsubishi Lancers.
The team will be fielding two brand-new Lancer Evolution IXs and, although similar to last year's cars, Mitsubishi is confident they will prove to be even more competitive this season.
In preparation for the Pirelli Rally and to 'shake-down' the freshly-built Lancers, the team spent two-days testing in Kielder Forest last week, where Wilks and Morrow got to grips with their new machinery.
"I felt at home with the Mitsubishi straight away and, having not driven on a forest stage since the Rally GB, I was pleased to be 'on it' right from the start of the test", said Wilks. "Although the new car is basically the same as last year's, by working with the team we made good progress with the set-ups. Although we mustn't be complacent, I think we've got a fantastic chance of retaining our titles this season."
The test also provided Morrow with his first opportunity to get behind the wheel of his manufacturer-backed Mitsubishi and, following an enlightening two-days he said:
"The works Lancer is superb. I felt comfortable with the package right from the word go, not just with the car, but the whole team. I was very pleased with the way the test went and it's certainly made a difference to my confidence, going into my first ever event as a works-driver. Although I'm fired-up, I'm going to take a sensible approach and aim for a top three finish -- and if things turn out better, then it's a bonus."
Also attending the test was Ralliart General Manager and the Mitsubishi UK Motorsport boss Paul Brigden, who was more than satisfied with the outcome:
"When you put two brand-new cars into a forest and drive them hard for the first time there's always a moment of anxiety that things are going to go okay. But the test went very well and having started with the same set-up we used last year, we were able to make a number of improvements. I was impressed that Guy looked like he had never been away and how Phillip adapted to the works environment so quickly. We're now looking forward to the first round and carrying on where we left off last year."
For 2008 Wilks will continue to be partnered by his regular co-driver Phil Pugh. Morrow will be accompanied, as he has been on many occasions, by the experienced Daniel Barritt.
After four years as the chosen constructor for the Mitsubishi UK team, Chesterfield-based ADR Motorsport continue to build and prepare the works cars, plus provide the all-important on-event technical support throughout the season. The Pirelli Rally starts and finishes in Carlisle and features 14 timed special stages, four on Friday evening and a further 10 on Saturday, totalling 105 competitive miles in the infamous Kielder Forest.
The team welcomes Lovell Group and Virgin Money as a new sponsors for 2008. They join the team's technical partners: Sparco, Speedline Corse, PIAA, Ricardo, and Performance Friction Brakes.