Despite well-publicised financial problems, Mitsubishi has announced that it will enter two cars for the 2005 World Rally Championships, and possibly three cars in certain rounds.

Despite well-publicised financial problems, Mitsubishi has announced that it will enter two cars for the 2005 World Rally Championships, and possibly three cars in certain rounds.

Established rally drivers Harri Rovanpera, Gilles Panizzi and Gigi Galli will drive the Lancers next season. Panizzi was greatly involved in the development of the new car, but will only drive in selected rounds, including the tarmac events. He and Galli will share a car, though a third car may be entered in certain events.

Although Mitsubishi has been in financial trouble recently, the company’s European sales have been positive enough to justify the continuation of its WRC involvement. The team’s development work is basically tied up ahead of the season-opening Rallye Monte Carlo late in January next year. Changes to the rules for 2005 have enabled a slightly wider bodyshell and new front and rear wings and bumpers. Suspension modifications have been made and the engine has been upgraded with an improved engine management system.

The cars will have an active differential system and a revised semi-automatic gearbox with paddleshifts. Later, the gearboxes will be reworked, with longer ratios between first, third and fourth gears. The team hopes to have completed all the development work for the Lancer within the first half of the season, after which the focus will then shift to improving results, gaining podium finishes and improving team prospects for 2006.

Akira Kijima, managing director head of product operations for Mitsubishi Motors, and responsible for motorsport activities, said: "Mitsubishi Motors' involvement in motorsport is not merely a promotional activity, but is really at the heart of the brand.

“We feed the technology and know-how gained from our various motorsport activities directly into all of our cars, making production vehicles that have not only improved durability and safety, but also good road performance and driving capability. We intend to strengthen motor sport activities and, in so doing, raise the value of the Mitsubishi Motors brand," Kijima added.

MMSP GmbH was established in November 2002 as an independent company to oversee and manage all official motorsport activities, including cross-country rallies and the WRC. MMSP is promoting a three-year plan covering the reorganization of WRC activities, as well as the development of cross-country activities.