ProRally: Ojibwe Forests: Lancer Evolution Mitsubishi preview

Mitsubishi Motors and Lancer Evolution in Reach of First SCCA ProRally Championship CYPRESS, Calif., Aug. 21 -- After a punishing season navigating desert trails and logging roads at heart-pounding speeds, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.

Mitsubishi Motors and Lancer Evolution in Reach of First SCCA ProRally Championship

CYPRESS, Calif., Aug. 21 -- After a punishing season navigating desert trails and logging roads at heart-pounding speeds, Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA), has a national championship in its sights -- the 2003 SCCA ProRally Championship.

With a podium finish early Sunday, August 24, at the Ojibwe Forests ProRally in Minnesota, MMNA can capture the title with two races left to run in its rally racing-hewn 2003 Lancer Evolution -- the same fast and furious performance compact sports sedan available to consumers in the United States through Mitsubishi Motors' dealerships.

Like the World Rally Championship, the SCCA ProRally Championship is the only motorsports series that takes cars off showroom floors, modifies them for maximum speed and safety, and then races them on unforgiving roads and in extreme outdoor elements. The car with the lowest overall elapsed time on all the point-to-point stages wins.

"Lancer Evolution's motorsports pedigree is legendary and its incredible power, poise and reliability on the racing circuit demonstrates time and again why Lancer Evolution is the distilled essence of the Mitsubishi Motors brand," said Pierre Gagnon, chairman and CEO, MMNA. "Even better, U.S. consumers can experience the same fun with an EVO, and later this year, through the two newest members of the expanding Lancer family -- Lancer Ralliart and Sportback Ralliart."

Heading into this weekend's race, the Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America Open-class Lancer Evolution, with driver David Higgins and co-driver Daniel Barritt, remain unbeaten on the mountain gravel and dirt forest roads that have made up five ProRally venues this year. With recent wins at the Oregon Trail ProRally and Maine Forest ProRally, Higgins, Barritt and the rest of the team have a 50-plus points lead coming into the demanding Ojibwe Forests ProRally near Bemijidi.

Higgins, the defending SCCA ProRally Open-Class Driver Champion, credits his all-wheel-drive Lancer Evolution for the team's strong showing: "The Lancer Evolutions are incredibly agile and balanced. No matter what the surface or what the conditions, I can trust my EVO to provide superior performance."

Lauchlin O'Sullivan, whose Lancer O-Z Rally(R) Edition brought Mitsubishi the SCCA ProRally two-wheel-drive championship last year, is piloting Team Mitsubishi's other race-prepped all-wheel-drive Lancer Evolution this season and is currently in second place overall. Strong performances by Higgins and O'Sullivan in the final races could earn Mitsubishi Motors both first and second place in the overall SCCA ProRally Drivers Championship.

"These cars are very predictable, with tremendous power and traction on tap," O'Sullivan said of his EVO. "It feels great to throw them around in the heat of competition."

The 2003 Lancer Evolution is one of four all-new products Mitsubishi Motors has launched this year in North America. On sale since March at a price under $30,000, the 2003 Lancer Evolution combines surreal road holding, shocking acceleration, purposeful styling, near-telepathic responses and a sense of control found only in exotic sports cars three times the price.

In September, Mitsubishi Motors will begin selling a special Ralliart edition of Lancer, along with the 2003 Lancer Sportback, an affordable sport wagon with surprising performance that adds to our diverse, rally-inspired range of Lancer compact sedans.

Ralliart models will have performance upgrades including a 2.4-liter MIVEC engine churning out 160 horsepower, a Ralliart-turned suspension, 16-inch, five-spoke aluminum wheels and wider tires, large disc brakes front and rear and the same supportive front seats as the Japanese-market Lancer Evolution GT-A.

"Lancer Ralliart provides factory-tuned performance at a very affordable price," Gagnon said. "It gives our youthful, spirited buyers a chance to experience the same kind of thrills on the streets that Lauchlin and David have experienced on challenging courses from California to Maine this season."

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) is responsible for all of the 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 nearly 700 dealers in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. 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, Ill. For more information, call the Mitsubishi Motors News Bureau at 888-560-6672.


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Series SCCA
Drivers David Higgins , Daniel Barritt