There’s something about the history of sporting equipment that stirs the imagination of purists and gives each item that bit of extra significance.
A cricket bat used by Don Bradman, a football jumper worn by Buddy Franklin or a tennis racquet used by Roger Federer will be much more highly sought after, for example, than one used by a lesser player.
So it is with rally cars, although the very nature of the sport suggests that a car used with great success by, say, Colin McRae, may not be in original condition. The body shell (among other things!) may have been changed, although the registration might still be the same……
That’s not the case with one of the most successful cars in Australian Rally Championship history though, having been run under the Les Walkden Rallying banner in the 1994 and 1995 season.
Driven by Ed Ordynski, with Mark Stacey in the co-driver’s seat, this particular Lancer Evo 2 won six times from six starts and holds a place dear to Ordynski’s heart.
“I remember the car well because we debuted it in my home ARC round in SA, and it was very quick – remember these were pre-turbo restrictor days,” Ordynski remembers.
“The Evo of that era was small and light - the perfect size for a rally car. We had only recently gotten out of the Galant VR4 which was too big and heavy, and the Evos 1 and 2 were a revelation.
“Incidentally,” Ordynski said at the time, “Evos 7 and 8 are as big and actually heavier than the old VR4 RS! If only we could have Evo 8 mechanicals in an Evo 2 body nowadays!”
After several years of the Galant VR4, in which Ordynski got his rallying break when he won Group N at the inaugural Rally Australia in 1989, the Lancer was the car that Mitsubishi hoped would take it back to the top level in rallying.
While Group A Lancers, in the hands of Armin Schwarz and Kenneth Eriksson initially, battled it out for WRC honours, it was in Group N where the Lancer really made a name for itself. In fact, not until Tommi Makinen joined the Mitsubishi team (driving the Lancer Evo 3) did the Group A version of the Lancer actually win at the top level.
”The Evo 2 was also quite an improvement on the Evo 1, especially in the suspension with significant geometry changes to address the bump-steer problems of the earlier car,” Ordynski recalls.
“They handled better than anything else I have driven in Group N. I remember Spencer Lowndes, driving with me in the Evo 5 days, returning to his Evo 2 for a state round and coming back astonished that it was so much better in terms of response and nimble handling.”
When RallySport Magazine featured the car in 2005, it was owned by Wagga’s Bill Rees.
This particular Lancer Evo 2 started its life as a rally car on May 24, 1994 when CAMS issued it with its competition log book. Registered in Tasmania (DG-1999), the car’s first event was the Clipsal Rally, the South Australian round of the ARC on May 27, 1994.
Ordynski rates the Lancer Evo 2 as the best of the Mitsubishi models.
Ordynski won Group N on that event, then followed that result with Group N wins in the ARC rounds in Queensland, Tasmania and Coffs Harbour.
The following year, the car appeared with a new registration (DH-0150) after a new rally registration scheme was introduced in Tasmania, although the change had no effect on the results.
Third outright and a Group N win at the Rally of Melbourne in March was followed by an outright win at the Rally of Wagga (a co-efficient round of the ARC) one month later.
The car was then put in the hands of James Miedecke who contested three rounds of the Tasmanian Rally Championship in 1994, securing the championship victory at the final event.
It was a great end to the career of the car (for the time being), before it was retired from the LWR stable to make way for the all-new Evo 3.
“It was a great car,” Ordysnki says. “I drove it in 6 rallies for 6 wins - not bad! Incidentally, its twin, which I drove in the rest of the ARC, also did Rally NZ and Rally Oz in '94 and won Group N at both!”
He continues his superlatives in what rates as “the best Evo of all time”.
”A big part of that is naturally because you always highly regard a car that brought so much success. Evo 2 was part of an amazing ARC Group N winning streak for us, which went for 16 events in a row,” he remembers.
Ed Ordynski, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 2, 1994 Rally of Melbourne.
“The competition was fierce too, with fantastic young drivers like David West, Marty Beckton, Katsu Taguchi, and a huge number of drivers now gone from the ARC, all in near identical cars.
“The great Group N contest got little coverage, unlike nowadays, because Neal Bates’ Group A Celica dominated every rally and received all the attention.
But there was an unbelievably tough battle behind Neal’s factory car and the occasionally competitive PRC privateer at the front of the field.” The car in question left the Les Walkden stable in August 1996 when Western Australian Kim Harris took delivery of it. He used it in a number of WA state championship rounds, as well as heading to Malaysia with the car.
Bill Rees bought the car two years later, in September 1998, and used it sporadically after that.
Behind the wheel …..
RallySport Magazine had the chance for a quick drive in the car, and it was instantly obvious that this was a car that could perhaps be called “the ultimate club rally car”.
Aside from the “it’s either in or out” operation of the button clutch, the Evo 2 is like any car when you drive it through the city streets.
Relatively quiet to ride in, aside from the firm suspension, the car is a Group N machine from days gone by. Not only did it not have the now-required 32mm turbo restrictor for Group N, the car has all carpets and roof linings still in place, as well as the back seats.
“I see no reason to change the car from its original specification,” Bill Rees said.
“The car is now over 10 years old, but given that it’s done so few events, it still drives like a new car as everything is still so firm.”
Slowly accelerating away from the traffic lights the Lancer is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Once the turbo comes on boost it’s like you’ve been kicked in the back as the car oozes performance and is begging to be driven with more aggression.
When onto the gravel, the car really comes into its own. Sure-footed road holding is one of the immediate things that impresses and in no time at all the car is doing 160km/h in fourth gear.
“The brakes on the car are superb,” Bill chips in as we’re motoring along, and he’s right too! With Pagid pads the car seemingly stops like a tarmac racer.
Our short test track was quite devoid of corners, with only a couple of 90 degree bends to test the car’s handling capabilities, but despite this, it came up trumps.
Setting the Evo 2 up for the corner in the traditional Scandinavian flick was quite an easy task, and the trip through the corner and the subsequent traction out of it highlighted Ed Ordynski’s comments about this model being the best Evo of all.
”You just seemed to be able to get away with anything in the Evo 2; it had all the hallmarks of a classic rally car - user-friendly, robust and simple drivetrain, light-weight, compact size and great suspension,” the Group N master says.
”But I think the stand-out feature was the engine performance. The Evo 2 had the 'low compression' engine so you could run much more boost than later models which were designed with restrictors in mind. The Evo 3 was quite a let down afterwards, by comparison.
“Because you could run big boost it had masses of grunt down low and would rev out to the limiter (7,600rpm) if need be. Okay, it didn't have anti-lag, but left-foot braking fixed that.
”I remember testing an Evo 2 with Jamie Drummond one day and we took it out to see what top speed we could get with the boost in rally spec, and we achieved 256 km/h. I also recall one doing 230km/h in an actual event, so in a way I can see restrictors had their point!”
All too soon my quick run in the car was finished and we were soon back to driving through the suburban streets of Wagga to park the car back in Bill’s garage.
There’s no doubt that the Lancer Evolution 2 is a rally car with plenty of life left in it yet.
From touring assemblies, novice rallies, clubman events, state championship rounds or ARC rounds, this is a car that still has plenty to offer a driver. While its days of being able to finish on the podium in the higher quality events may have just about gone, the Evo 2’s reliability, performance and user-friendliness means that we should be seeing them around for many years to come yet.
In reality, the Evo 2 can make an ordinary driver look good, and a good driver look exceptional. Ed Ordynski agrees.
”My last event in this particular Evo 2, the Wagga Rally in 1995, stands as one of the most fun events I've ever been in. Apart from the great roads, I had recently run a rally school for Marty Beckton and David West and all three of us had a monumental battle all day.
“It was a great era to be in Australian rallying - much like nowadays, but without the expense.”
There might have been eight Evolutions of the Mitsubishi Lancer since, but the Evo 2 remains, for many, the best yet.
TECH SPEC – MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION 2ENGINE: 1998cc, DOHC, 4 cylinders, in-line, 260bhp @ 6000rpm. Torque: 31.5Kg/m @ 3000rpm, Bore: 85mm, Stroke: 88mm
TRANSMISSION: Standard 5-speed gearbox with button clutch.
SUSPENSION: 50mm DMS, fully adjustable.
BRAKES: Standard Lancer Evo 2 with Pagid brake pads.
WHEELS & TYRES: 6” ROH mag wheels on 195/65x15 Silverstone S525 rally tyres.
MISCELLANEOUS: 50 litre fuel cell, Porsche fuel pump, Momo steering wheel, OMP seats, Terratrip 404, Terraphone intercom, navigator’s footrest.
VEHICLE HISTORY (with Ed Ordynski driving)
27/5/94 - Clipsal Rally, 1st Gp N 8
/7/94 - Qld ARC, 4th O/R, 1st Gp N 4
/8/94 ˆ Southern Safari, 2nd O/R, 1st Gp N 1
3/10/94 - Coffs Harbour, 4th O/R, 1st Gp N 1
7/3/95 - Rally of Melbourne, 3rd O/R, 1st Gp N 2
2/4/95 - Wagga, 1st O/R, 1st Gp N
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