When Mitsubishi Ruled The Rally World

Historical past

In motorsport historical past, there are numerous durations of success that producers or groups have loved. It occurs time and time once more inside disciplines, the place victories move with ease. What’s decidedly rarer although, is cross-discipline domination, the place a producer is on high in several sides of the sport.

Within the late-Nineteen Nineties, Mitsubishi strode the rally world as kings.

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From the ice-covered mountain passes outdoors Monte Carlo to the blistering expanses of the Sahara Desert, the three-pointed diamond machines proved untouchable. The World Rally Championship? Simple. 4 drivers’ titles on the hop from 1996 to 1999 in addition to a sole producer title in 1998.

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However what about Rally Raid and the fearsome problem of the Dakar Rally? Twelve victories on the world’s hardest occasion from 1985 to 2007 speaks for itself, however 11 wins in 16 years from 1992 onwards is about as dominant as you will be. Instances had been good for Mitsubishi, and competitors success rolled over into their manufacturing automobile world.

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However stroll right into a Mitsubishi dealership at present, and it wouldn’t be sudden to really feel utter disappointment on the present lineup. That’s, when you may even discover a Mitsubishi dealership. Within the UK and Eire there are none. In Japan and the USA, you have got the choice of an Eclipse-badged crossover, the Outlander SUV or the Mirage compact. That’s it.

To make issues much more miserable, had you strolled right into a Mitsubishi showroom within the late-’90s, you’d have had the selection of a Mirage, the FTO, an Eclipse, the wild-looking Galant, the reliable Lancer or a Pajero/Shogun for some off-roading. There was a genuinely good sports activities automobile within the GTO as nicely, whereas the entire vary was peppered with efficiency fashions just like the Mirage Cyborg, the FTO GPX and the Galant VR-4.

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Even typing that final paragraph is mind-melting, such was the depth of the Mitsubishi mannequin vary 25 years in the past in contrast to now.

However there are two halo fashions that existed within the 1998 lineup that had been actually distinctive machines, and to face and have a look at the pair at present is unimaginable.

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1998/1999 was a particular time for Mitsubishi, as defined already, with unprecedented success on the WRC and Dakar. This flowed on to the buyer when a pair of superb homologation specials had been unleashed upon the world.


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Whereas the Evolution title had existed alongside the Lancer since 1992, it was the Evo VI that’s rightly lauded as the head of the mannequin. Aggressive from almost each angle, this was pure perform designed for particular stage victory. Wings, vents and openings are peak Evo, and when evaluating the styling to an Impreza of the identical period, it’s apparent how far Mitsubishi amped up what was as soon as a fundamental four-door sedan.

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The Evo we’re at present is a JDM automobile that was exported to Canada in 2016 the place it was purchased by its present proprietor, Glen. When a chance for Glen to maneuver again house to Eire in 2021 got here up, the Lancer was loaded right into a transport container to begin one other chapter in its life.

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Strolling across the extremely well-preserved unique paintwork, it’s apparent the automobile has been cared for all through its years. Externally, a set of Yokohama Advan Racing RG wheels in a 17×8.5-inch fitment all spherical actually units issues off; the black and gold distinction is totally timeless. Wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport 4 rubber and sitting on Tein coilovers, the Evo is speedy down the numerous lanes that encompass its new house within the Irish countryside.

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Such is the extent that Mitsubishi went to in initially speccing the Evo VI, when modifying, a lot of the unique tools will be fully retained or simply enhanced in a roundabout way. In Glen’s automobile, the brakes are the manufacturing unit Brembos, however now profit from Goodridge braided strains and Winmax W3 pads.

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Stepping inside, it’s a competition of mid-’90s black plastic, however that’s the exceptional characteristic of many homologation specials. From the motive force’s eye, issues aren’t far faraway from the bottom mannequin, though the addition of Recaro seats and a Momo wheel from manufacturing unit provides a number of clues to the Evo’s underpinnings. The one addition to the cabin is AEM air/gasoline ratio and enhance gauges, each built-in into the manufacturing unit cluster.

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Whereas lots of the touches that Glen has made in his possession have been refined, it’s a bit of totally different beneath the bonnet. The unique 2.0L 4G63T engine stays, nevertheless it’s now fed by a Tomei M7960 turbo, FIC 750cc injectors and a Walbro gasoline pump. A pair of billet GSC ‘Stage 1′ cams assist with faster turbo spooling whereas including a bit of lump to the idle.

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There’s additionally a GReddy LS Spec intercooler up entrance, and an exhaust comprising of C-Tec 3-inch divided wastegate, turbo elbow and down-pipe that meets a Fujitsubo Legalis R cat-back system.

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The ECU stays inventory, nevertheless it’s been custom-mapped. English Racing in Portland, Oregon are famend builders of all issues wild and quick, however have specialised in Mitsubishi Evo builds for occasions just like the Texas 2K. An Evo VI continues to be not legally allowed within the USA, so I’d think about its journey throughout the Canadian border attracted loads of consideration from JDM followers alongside the way in which. On their in-house dyno, the staff at English Racing unleashed 334whp and 328lb/ft from the setup.


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Following Glen’s Evo VI was deal with in itself, however doing so from his different Mitsubishi was one thing else. Enter the Pajero Evolution.

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You see, the Canadian local weather can get fairly snowy and chilly for lengthy durations of the 12 months, and while you personal an extremely well-built Evo VI that you just prefer to hold fastidiously maintained, it is sensible to maintain that tucked away and use one thing a bit of extra rugged for the every day grind. This JDM unicorn has been in Glen’s possession since he bought it in 2019.

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Earlier on I talked about Mitsubishi’s utter domination of the Dakar Rally within the late-’90s, and for the 1998 occasion they determined combine issues up. The Dakar development for the T1 Limitless Class was heading in direction of purpose-built buggies – as evidenced by the 1999 and 2000 wins for Schlesser – so Mitsubishi’s consideration turned to Class T2, the realm of production-based autos.

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Studying from their World Rally Championship information, the Pajero Evolution was born in late 1997. Whereas some homologation specials mimic the look of the competitors relative, the Pajero was unleashed on the world just about able to go – whether or not that be for the varsity run or an informal full-speed blast via the desert. The whole lot is turned as much as 11.

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Beneath the obscenely broad arches sits a suspension setup fully distinctive to the two,500 Pajero Evos constructed. Double wishbones and intensely long-travel coilover shocks reside up entrance, whereas multi-link unbiased suspension with coilovers change the antiquated coil-sprung stay axle of the common Pajero mannequin.

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The bulbous bonnet hides a 6G74 2.5L 24-valve V6 with MIVEC and twin plenum variable consumption. This can be a fully distinctive utility, with lots of the ancillary objects used solely on this mannequin. The vast majority of Pajero Evos produced by Mitsubishi between 1997 and 1999 – together with this one – acquired a 5-speed computerized transmission, precisely as was used within the works Dakar machines, however there are a handful of manufacturing unit manuals within the wild.

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To be within the presence of a Pajero Evolution alone is particular, however being thrown the keys was an sudden bonus. Climbing aboard and getting cosy within the lovely Recaro inside, the gauges and carbon fiber-look trim bits give clues to the beast’s potential.

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The wild nature of the Pajero Evolution is current from each angle. Save for the Ralliart exahust, Glen has retained its originality, proper right down to the day one toolkit.

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And what in regards to the 1998 Dakar and the choice to enter the T2 Manufacturing Class? Properly, the Pajero Evolution, itself pushing absolutely the boundaries of a manufacturing automobile, not solely received outright, however got here second and third as nicely.

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Mitsubishi might have develop into a light model of their as soon as dominant selves, however this Evo pair have discovered a brand new life on a 3rd continent. Whereas the Lancer is full for now, the Pajero is ready for a significant restoration after a number of nice years of correct driving and exploration.

Cian Donnellan
Instagram: Ciandon
Fb: CianDonPhotography

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