Mitsubishi Lancer WRC
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The Mitsubishi Lancer WRC is a World Rally Car built by Ralliart, Mitsubishi Motors' motorsport division, to compete in the World Rally Championship. The previous Lancer Evolution series were homologated for the Group A class, and their competitiveness against World Rally Cars from other manufacturers was therefore limited.
|Mitsubishi Lancer WRC|
|Body and chassis|
|Class||World Rally Car|
|Body style||4-door sedan|
|Engine||4G63 2.0 L DOHC 16v I4, turbocharger|
front, centre & rear LSDs;
|Wheelbase||2,600 mm (102.4 in)|
|Length||4,360 mm (171.7 in)|
|Width||1,770 mm (69.7 in) (2001–04)|
1,800 mm (70.9 in) (2005)
|Curb weight||1,230 kg (2,712 lb)|
The Lancer Evolution WRC is powered by the same 1996 cc 4G63 engine that has been used in its sports and rally cars since the 1980s, in this iteration producing 300 PS (221 kW; 296 hp) at 5500 rpm and 540 N⋅m (398 lb⋅ft) at 3500 rpm. The car debuted at the 2001 Rallye San Remo, after a relatively short development (Ralliart couldn't introduce the Lancer WRC later because of a contract they made with the FIA in 1999, which allowed them to run the old specification Lancers). Despite calling it Lancer, it was based on its sister-model Cedia. The WRC rules allowed more freedom in most areas of the car, therefore the engineers were able to make changes to the car they couldn't do to the older Group A Lancers. These changes included modifications to the engine and its surroundings (lighter internal parts, more rearward tilt to optimize the front weight distribution, new turbo and new exhaust system), but the most significant change was made to the suspensions: now both the front and rear suspensions were MacPhersons, and also bigger wheel arches were implanted, allowing more suspension travel. However, the drivetrain remained the same as before, and when Tommi Mäkinen left the team at the end of 2001, the new drivers couldn't get on with this special transmission, which required an aggressive left-foot braking approach. The original Evo WRC (sometimes referred to as Step1) was replaced with the Step2 from 2002 Finland onwards.
The Lancer Evolution WRC2 is also powered by the 4G63, also producing 300 PS (221 kW) at 5500 rpm and 540 N⋅m (398 lb⋅ft) at 3500 rpm. It is mated to a 6-speed INVECS-type sequential transmission via a triple-plate carbon clutch and distributes power to all four wheels via front-, centre- and rear- active differentials. The car's suspension is independent, with MacPherson struts and coil springs at each corner. The brakes are vented discs clamped by 6-piston calipers at the front, and 4-piston calipers at the rear. The car debuted at the 2002 Rally Finland. Changes to the Evo WRC included better weight distribution and lower centre of gravity, different front airdam to increase airflow to the radiators, a new intercooler, new exhaust manifold and a single-scroll turbocharger, and new engine parts (lightened crankshaft, flywheel and other rotating parts). The suspension was also updated to offer more travel and rigidity, and slight changes were made to the transmission, too (to suit more the very different driving style of McRae and Delecour). Mitsubishi pulled out of the WRC at the end of 2002, but in 2003 they used this car for developmental purposes on some WRC events, with McRae clinching a 6th place at the 2003 Rallye New Zealand.
In the Lancer WRC04, around 6000 changes were made compared to the Step2. The car continued with the 4G63 engine, mounted to a 5-speed semi-automatic transmission (at the start of the season, Mitsubishi used a completely passive transmission, and later introduced active differentials) and a new all-wheel drive system co-developed by Ricardo Consulting Engineers and Mitsubishi Motors Motorsports (MMSP). The bodywork was subjected to extensive aerodynamic testing at the Lola Cars wind tunnel (this resulted in the completely new front airdam, the new wheel arches and the interesting, shopping trolley handle-like rear spoiler). The front brakes were upgraded to 8-piston calipers clamping 370 mm (15 in) discs. The car was suffering a lot from frustrating mechanical and electrical glitches (in New Zealand, both cars retired on the start line of the first stage after an electrical problem appeared). Mitsubishi didn't even complete a full season, since they continued to develop and test the car outside the WRC, but with little result in 2004; however, the car had some good moments and seemed to be promising after more development.
The lead Lancer WRC04 in the 2004 World Rally Championship was driven by ex-Peugeot driver Gilles Panizzi, with his brother Hervé as co-driver. The other pairings were Gianluigi Galli with Guido D'Amore, Daniel Solá with Xavier Amigo, and Kristian Sohlberg with Kaj Lindstrom.
The Lancer WRC05 saw no significant changes, but the car's width was increased by 30 mm (1.2 in) due to a change in the WRC regulations. The engine remained the same, but the ECU and the turbo wastegate were updated. Aerodynamic alterations to the bodywork were introduced to improve stability and to accommodate the new, wider track, while suspension links and driveshafts were lengthened. Steering-mounted gearshift paddles were also introduced, and longer ratios were adopted for first, third and fourth gears. The car showed great promise, since Panizzi took 3rd place in Monte Carlo, and ex-Peugeot man Rovanpera was fast on gravel events, eventually clinching a 2nd place at the last round in Australia, but soon after that Mitsubishi pulled out of the WRC, and only returned through Ralliart UK, who took over the cars and supported private and semi-works entries in 2006 and 2007. At the Swedish WRC-event in 2006, local rallydriver Daniel Carlsson made podium with a 3rd place in the Värmland forests, in such an entry. Daniel battled for seconds, just into finish line, with team mate Gigi Galli, who settled for fourth spot.
To maintain some competitiveness, MML Sports (ex Ralliart UK) made some development to the car, including an updated suspension, transmission and other, minor changes. This resulted in the car (sometimes called the WRC07) being faster than the WRC05 by a massive 0.5sec/km.