Mitsubishi Ralliart Happy with
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Team Mitsubishi Ralliart's Evolution IX Lancer, driven by
Warwick Rooklyn with Linda Long, in Targa Tasmania,
the team's debut tarmac rally.
on this page,
1st May, 2006
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart has completed its first tarmac rally, the 2,100km Targa Tasmania, with its brand new Evolution IX Lancer displaying impressive speed and reliability.
Driver Warwick Rooklyn and co-driver Linda Long were as fast on some stages of the 15th anniversary Targa as the Porsche in which Jim Richards won the event for the eighth time with his co-driver Barry Oliver.
Team Mitsubishi Ralliart principal Alan Heaphy said the all-wheel-drive Evo IX Lancer with its turbocharged 2-litre MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing Electronic lift and Control) engine "could do the whole thing again this week if we put four new tyres on it".
Tyres were the only issue for TMR on its debut tarmac rally.
Based on Targa weather records over the past 15 years, TMR opted for medium-compound tyres but, with the event run in the driest conditions in its history, the team was forced to change two tyres on the eve of the last day, incurring a four-minute penalty.
The Evo IX, similar to that being driven on gravel by Scott Pedder and Glen Weston for TMR in the Australian Rally Championship but without a restrictor on the turbocharger, consistently ran in the top three throughout Targa's 45 competitive stages, comprising about 450 kms.
The time lost because of the tyre changes dropped it many places but it made up a lot of ground on the final day to finish sixth.
Heaphy described the performance as "a very creditable result".
"The car was faultless," Heaphy said. "All we did all week was put petrol in it and check the tyres. We had to change two tyres Saturday evening, so that cost us four minutes under the rules, but the car has finished without a mark on it and in absolutely first-class shape mechanically. We could go and do it all again right now without doing anything to the car other than putting on a new set of tyres!"
"Targa has been very different to the gravel rallies we do in the ARC. Indeed, it's very different to anything we (Heaphy and his TMR colleagues, Pete West and Alan Swanson) have ever done."
"It's been the first time we've worked with Warwick and Linda, and the whole new combination worked fantastically."
"We've all learnt a lot that we can take into the other two tarmac events we will be doing this year - the new Lake Mountain Sprint near Marysville in Victoria's Yarra Valley on May 27-28 May and Targa West in Western Australia on September 9-10."
Iconic WA rally driver Ross Dunkerton won the initial Targa West last September in an Evolution VIII Mitsubishi Lancer.
Rooklyn said Targa Tasmania 2006 had been "a real marathon" and the Evo IX's speed and reliability "outstanding".
"The weather was just far too good for too long for the tyres we chose," Rooklyn said.
"It was only wet for 2 of the 45 competitive stages."
"History told us to expect considerably more rain than that, but it was the hottest and driest Targa of all time."
"We just didn't expect it to stay dry for so long. Then the heavens opened just as the event was concluding!"
"It's been a great event though. The competition has been hotter than ever. It's been my fourth Targa and Linda's eighth but our first event with the TMR guys and we've all gelled really well."
"The car was only finished a few days before the event and we only had one day with it and the (TMR) guys at Broadford near Melbourne to shake it down. Everything we've done in Tassie this past week will stand us in great stead for the Lake Mountain Sprint and Targa West."
The TMR Evo IX finished six minutes and 16 seconds behind the victorious Porsche. Another Porsche, driven by Tasmanian Greg Garwood with Queenslander John Allen, and a Lamborghini, driven by last year's Targa winner, Tasmanian Jason White with his uncle John, completed the podium.
Heaphy, who has identified tarmac rallying as a way for TMR to expand by making motor sport more accessible and affordable for competitors, was delighted with the performance of several customer RS Evo IXs in Targa.
Daryl Beattie, the three-time 500cc motorcycle grand prix winner, recorded some very quick times with his co-driver, Scott Young, before crashing down an embankment.
Peter Brown and Nicole Locker, of NSW, won the event's showroom class and were classified 15th outright, while Malcolm Klopp and Damian Pearce of South Australia also finished in fine style.
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