ProRally: Maine Forest: Team Mitsubishi preview

Team Mitsubishi's ProRally drivers ready to face Maine's tough challenges. CYPRESS, Calif., July 23 -- Maine's logging roads are notoriously fast and rocky, and when they are baked by the heat of summer, dust can be as thick as the woods they...

Team Mitsubishi's ProRally drivers ready to face Maine's tough challenges.

CYPRESS, Calif., July 23 -- Maine's logging roads are notoriously fast and rocky, and when they are baked by the heat of summer, dust can be as thick as the woods they run through. Such are the challenges Team Mitsubishi's drivers face when they roll their red Lancers into Rumford, Maine, this coming weekend for the Maine Forest ProRally -- Round 7 of the Sports Car Club of America's (SCCA) 10-event ProRally Championship series.

Fresh off strong Third and Fifth place finishes in the Open Class at last month's Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, Rhys Millen, driving the Rhys Millen Racing-prepped all-wheel-drive Lancer Evolution VII, and Lauchlin O'Sullivan piloting RMR's 2002 two-wheel-drive Lancer O-Z Rally Edition, are eager to continue their strong performances this season on Maine's challenging forest roads.

Millen will be driving a full-race version of the new Lancer Evolution VII that will have its U.S. debut in January 2003; it's a car that is both faster and more mechanically refined than the Lancer Evolution 6.5 that he ran last year.

Powered by a 2.0-liter, DOHC 4-cylinder engine, the intercooled, multi- scroll turbocharger inducted Evolution engine creates 375 horsepower at 18 psi of boost and 6,000rpm. Incorporating a RalliArt ECU, the engine's power is transferred through a close-ratio 5-speed and RalliArt carbon triple-plate clutch to all four wheels via an active center differential. Both front and rear differentials feature RalliArt limited-slips to maximize traction at all four corners, and there's a switch on the dash that allows Millen to electronically adjust the power transfer ratio front and rear on-the-fly.

At only about 2900 pounds, the Lancer Evolution VII can be accelerated to 60 mph in less than four seconds, making it one of the quickest vehicles of its kind in the world. Large, AP ventilated disc brakes help the car stop quickly while multi-adjustable Intrax's ProFlex Jumbo coilovers help to maintain control in the treacherous rally terrain such as that the driver's will experience running Maine's logging roads.

Making their debut in the United States dealer showrooms in January 2003, Lancer Evolutions are the global yardstick by which rally cars are developed. Lancers have helped Mitsubishi Motors achieve race victories at World Rally Championships in remote areas around of the world, with four World Rally Driver Championships since 1995.

This season Millen is currently in 5th place in the Open Class driver's standings after switching from the Evo 6.5 to the Evo VII mid-season and sees the Maine Forest Rally as the event to re-gain some lost ground in the manufacturer's and Open Class driver's point's standings.

O'Sullivan, who joined Team Mitsubishi shortly after last year's Maine rally, also switched cars since last year's event. The Mitsubishi Eclipse that lost a clutch and dropped him out of the rally on day two has been replaced with a '02 Lancer O-Z. The switch in teams and cars seems like a perfect match as he and co-driver Matt Chester have dominated the Group 2 class all season and currently lead the two-wheel-drive championship points race for both driver and co-driver honors.

With a huge 19-car field in the ultra-competitive Group 2 Class showing up for the Maine event, O'Sullivan's game plan is "to run just fast enough to finish in the top five so we can preserve the championship points lead."

After Maine the ProRally tour heads to Bemidji, Minnesota (Ojibwe Forests, August 16-17), Olympia, Washington (Wild West, Sept. 7-8), and the final event in Houghton, Michigan (Lake Superior, Oct. 18-19.)

For digital Team Mitsubishi/RMR motorsports images, contact Richard Kelley, 714/372-6428 or e-mail rkelley@mmsa.com.

Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc., was established in 1982 by Mitsubishi Motor Corporation, Tokyo, and makes a full line of vehicles, including coupes, convertibles, sedans and sport utility vehicles.

-mitsubishi-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Rhys Millen