Mitsubishi only 50/50 chance of ARC start
The Australian Rally Championship could be without one of its biggest players this year, with Mitsubishi Ralliart only a 50 per cent chance of lining up at the first event in March.
Despite having three full specification Lancer Evo 9s in his workshop, team manager Alan Heaphy is still unsure when Mitsubishi Japan will give him an answer on this year’s rally program.
“At this point in time we have no motorsport plans,” Heaphy told RallySport Magazine today.
“I must stress that this does not mean we won’t be competing, but at this stage I would say that we were only a 50/50 chance of getting the funding we require,” he added.
Mitsubishi have traditionally been slow in announcing their competition plans, and 2006 was no exception, with Heaphy and his team only getting confirmation for the ARC program 10 days before the first event. However it appears that there may be no such happy ending this year.
A change in personnel in Japan has meant that Heaphy has had to deal with new people at Mitsubishi, and this has slowed negotiations which he had hoped would have been finalized before the end of November 2006.
Mitsubishi Ralliart Australia had planned to run Scott Pedder in one car, and had hoped for enough funding to run a second car, with Cody Crocker their favoured choice of driver.
However should their plans be knocked on the head, it would leave Toyota drivers Simon Evans and Neal Bates as the only factory-supported drivers likely to win rallies. Subaru privateer Dean Herridge is again expected to front in an Impreza WRX, but without significant funding from the manufacturer.
The absence of Mitsubishi would be another major blow to the Australian Rally Championship, which lost the factory Subaru team at the end of the 2005 season. It would leave Toyota and Ford as the only factory teams.