Mika H?kkinen to Drive Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution WRC2 at the 2003 Arctic Lapland Rally

Mika H?kkinen will participate in the 2003 Arctic Lapland Rally in northern Finland on 24 and 25 January driving a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII WRC2. It will be Mika's first rally following his eleven-year career in the Formula One World Championship and two title wins in 1998 and 1999.

Mika, who retired permanently from Formula One last summer, will remain a member of the DaimlerChrysler family even as a one-off rally driver. DaimlerChrysler AG own not only the premium brand Mercedes-Benz but also a 37.3 percent share of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. More than a year after Mika's last Formula One race he remains one of the world's most popular sports personalities especially in Germany, which is mainly due to his likeable appearances in Mercedes-Benz TV commercials. Mitsubishi won the Manufacturers' Rallye World Championship in 1998 and secured four consecutive drivers' titles from 1996 through 1999.

Mika Hakkinen.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
"Finland is not only my home country, but also the home of rally sport," said Mika. "I'm deeply impressed by my fellow Finns' and their colleagues' performances in the World Championship. Their car control under difficult road conditions, sometimes even with ice or snow, is really fascinating. I always wanted to compete in a rallye and I'm sure the comparison between this sport and Formula One will prove interesting for the spectators as well. But I want to make clear that this is not to start a second career in motor sport." Mika will test the Mitsubishi from 17 to 19 December in Finland.

Mika's West McLaren Mercedes Formula One car and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII have one thing in common both cars are built for the extreme challenges of top motor sport. The Grand Prix car has to face the ultimate demands in Formula One, the World Rally Car is made for a maximum balance under the imponderable conditions in time trials on public roads.

These conditions are even more difficult during the Arctic Rally. The competition starts and ends in the Finnish city of Rovaniemi located at the Arctic Circle. The rally features 15 special stages on roads with deep snow, little daylight and at temperatures of minus 20 degrees Celsius and below.

Sven Quandt, head of Motor Sports activities for Mitsubishi Motors in Europe, said: "We are very proud that Mika asked us to prepare a Lancer Evolution VII WRC2 for his rallying debut. Even though this will be strictly a private entry, it will be of high significance for us as not only Mitsubishi but the whole rally sport will benefit from Mika's popularity not only in his home country Finland."