NAIROBI, Kenya, May 16 – With an entire generation of Rally fans under the age of 19 having never seen a Mitsubishi in a World Rally Championship event, the Japanese car maker has hinted at the return of Ralliart to the fold.
Mitsubishi pulled out of the WRC at the end of 2005, after using the car in 2003 for developmental purposes with Collin McRae where he clinched sixth place at the 2003 Rally New Zealand. Mitsubishi dropping out was attributed to a dip in sales and the change in the company’s strategy.
Ralliart is the high-performance and motorsports division of Mitsubishi Motors. It was responsible for development and preparation of the company’s rally racing and off-road racing vehicles, as well as the development of high-performance models and parts available to the public.
A statement issued by Mitsubishi in regards to their pulling out from the WRC stated
“With the Mitsubishi Motors Revitalization Plan as a basis, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation has made a solid start toward revitalizing its business operations, however to strengthen and build upon this base, MMC realizes that it must focus management resources on the continued promotion of the revitalization plan.”
Speaking about the return of the Ralliart brand, Mitsubishi CEO Takao Kato said; “It’s back.” Or at least, it might be if he gets his way,” the Japanese giant’s 2020 financial report said.
Forbes reported the same after the firm’s announcement of the revival was done at the firm’s earnings announcement earlier in the week in Tokyo.
It was revealed that the well-known sub-brand will be revived to strengthen what the company calls “Mitsubishi-ness driving.”
In simple terms, this indicates the reinforcing of a dormant motorsport dynasty that boasts world-beating handling and performance good vehicles that are tough enough to win the grueling Paris-Dakar Rally 12 times and capture four driver’s titles in the World Rally Championships.
“For customers who wish to experience our Mitsubishi-ness, we will launch custom-made accessories for our model line-up as well as re-entering motorsport events around the world,” Mitsubishi CEO Kato said.
Ralliart Europe was established as Andrew Cowan Motorsports (ACMS) Ltd in 1983 by Andrew Cowan, a driver with the Mitsubishi team who had scored their first international victory in 1972 at the Southern Cross Rally.
His team mate at the same event in 1975 and ’76, Doug Stewart, set-up Ralliart Australia as the official regional licensee in 1988 after 22 years of experience with the company’s cars.
The two have subsequently served as operational bases for Mitsubishi’s global motorsport activities and were responsible for MMC’s record of achievement in off-road racing including the 1998 Manufacturers’ Championship in the World Rally Championship four individual Drivers’ Championships for Tommi Mäkinen in 1996–99, and a record twelve wins in the Dakar Rally since 1982.
The FIA had tried to stop this from happening. In the year before that; the specific request of Skoda and Mitsubishi, the World Motorsport Council agreed that both manufacturers could miss up to three events in 2006 on the grounds of their budgets being too stretched.
Joginder Singh and Tommi Makinnen are some of the well-known Rally drivers who have won the WRC Safari Rally in 1976 Mitsubishi Lancer 1600 GSR and a Mitsubishi Evolution 3 in 1996, Richard Burns in a Mitsubishi Charisma Evolution IV and a second win by Tommi Makinen in 2001 in a Mitsubishi Evo 6.5 respectively.