ProRally: Sno*Drift: Mitsubishi final summary

Dominating debut: Mitsubishi Motor Sports Rally Team wins SCCA ProRally season opener. CYPRESS, Calif., Jan. 26 -- Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America approached their 2003 debut at the Sno*Drift SCCA ProRally event in the northern reaches of...

Dominating debut: Mitsubishi Motor Sports Rally Team wins SCCA ProRally season opener.

CYPRESS, Calif., Jan. 26 -- Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America approached their 2003 debut at the Sno*Drift SCCA ProRally event in the northern reaches of Michigan's lower peninsula with a conservative gameplan: Use only enough power and extend the team's pair of brand new all-wheel-drive Lancer Evolutions only so far as to ensure two solid finishes while racing on treacherous ice and in unrelenting cold.

Those solid finishes for the Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) ProRally team turned into a dominant Overall Open Class victory and a very solid 4th place in a highly competitive field facing some of the worst road conditions drivers had ever seen.

"These were by far the worst conditions I have ever rallied in, one second there is grip and the next none at all," said David Higgins, the defending SCCA Open Class champion who brought the winning Mitsubishi Evolution in a full two minutes ahead of the rest of the field.

"This is the type of rally you have nightmares about. But we had the right car and the right team for this rally. I'm just so impressed with how everything went on our debut event."

Higgins, piloting a state-of-the-art, 400-plus horsepower race-version of the Lancer Evolution sport sedan slated to arrive at Mitsubishi dealers in February, showed the new car's prowess by winning 13 of the 17 special stages despite the car suffering two flat tires while racing over some 120 miles of Michigan's snow-and-ice-covered backroads.

Teammate Lauchlin O'Sullivan, the defending SCCA Group 2 national champion, maximized the Lancer Evolution's all-wheel-drive and easy handling to overcome his limited ice-driving experience to bring the team's second entry into a solid fourth overall in a starting field of 56 vehicles.

"I can't believe how strong and reliable our cars were today," says O'Sullivan. "Their toughness right out of the box is a testament to the strength of the Lancer Evolution road car."

With both of Subaru Rally Team USA's cars failing to finish, Mitsubishi has jumped out to a firm points lead in the quest for the coveted SCCA ProRally Manufacturer's Championship.

The team's next U.S. event is the Rim of World ProRally in Palmdale, California, this May where Team Mitsubishi will pit their ProRally Lancer Evolutions against the heat, rocks, sand and dust of Southern California.

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) is responsible for all North American operations of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. As a single company consolidated on January 1, 2003, MMNA and its subsidiaries manufacture, distribute, finance, and market Mitsubishi brand coupes, convertibles, sedans and sport utility vehicles through a network of 700 dealers in the United States.

Mitsubishi Motors sold its first vehicle in the U.S. in 1981 and began building cars here in 1988 at its manufacturing facility in Normal, IL.

-mmna-

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Series SCCA
Drivers David Higgins