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The recent announcement that Mitsubishi Australia are to close their manufacturing plant in South Australia might not appear, at first glance, to have any effect on rallying, but it is certain that the company’s rallying purse strings (if, indeed they have a purse) will be severely tightened even further as a result.

With the current indecision not only about their World rally program, but their Australian one as well, Mitsubishi’s Japanese head office seem, in light of the huge losses they are currently sustaining, unlikely to tip any money into a rally program both here or in Europe.

One-time World Rally Champions for Manufacturers, Mitsubishi have gone from having a huge input in the sport to one of total abstinence, and the once-familiar appearance of the red Mitsubishi teams has disappeared from the forests altogether.

For Australian rally fans, Mitsubishi’s withdrawal at the end of 2006 was seen by many as being little more than a temporary retirement, however in recent weeks Mitsubishi’s plight with the slow-selling 380 has put any rallying plan locally at risk.

The company, surrounded by debt, will be reluctant to tip any further funding into the rallying bin, scuttling any hope that the company might field even one car in this year’s ARC.

While it could seem that other manufacturers might see a Mitsubishi non-participation program as being advantageous, it leaves just one local manufacturer, Toyota, to head the entry lists of traditional ARC events. The exodus of manufacturers or leading privateer teams from the ARC leaves a gaping hole in the field, with Toyota left to battle it out with a handful of skilled and cashed-up privateers.

Any thought that Mitsubishi might have about instigating a toe-in-the-water program with their new Evo 10 Lancer for 2008, now looks even more remote. This latest blow means that Subaru, Ford and Mitsubishi are no longer fielding teams in the ARC, leaving our premier series as a one horse race.  

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