With the demise of the famous Safari Rally from the FIA World Rally Championship, you’d be forgiven for thinking that cars built to the unique specification required to not only survive but succeed on arguably the toughest event ever to feature in the WRC would have also disappeared. But in fact, this is far from the case, with British company MML Sports developing and building Safari-spec Mitsubishi rally cars for the 21st Century.
The company was recently approached by the Team Kibos rally team and asked to supply two Group N Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX rally cars; one for the Kenyan Rally Championship and one for the FIA African Rally Championship. The two cars were built to identical, Safari-specification with the only difference between the two being in the livery, with one series’ door plates larger than the other.
It’s no surprise that MML Sports knows what it’s doing when it comes to building rally cars to survive the toughest conditions on the African continent. In its previous guise as Ralliart Europe, which ran the works Mitsubishi team, it took four wins while the event was part of the WRC and a Mitsubishi has won the event, which continues to run as part of the African series, eight times in the last ten years.
• The bodyshell has been strengthened through joins and seams re-made. Same for the suspension, engine and transmission crossmembers.
• The rear exhaust system is strengthened, the skid protection upgraded to cover the entire floorpan with 8mm aluminium.
• Increase in ground clearance of more than 40mm to avoid the suspension bottoming out and to raise the degree of protection.
• The car’s Reiger dampers been specifically developed for the rough African conditions and will cope with extremely high-speed movement, typical with wheels and tyres rolling over large rocks or dropping into pot-holes. The suspension mounting points have also been strengthened.
• All the extra strengthening has only added 40-45kg of weight to these Group N Evo X machines over their “Euro” spec siblings.