After months of appeals and legal wrangling, Guy Wilks has finally been declared as the winner of the 2008 MSA British Rally Championship - although Mitsubishi has been forced to pay a total £60,000 over the Rally Yorkshire saga.
Wilks had dominated the event at the wheel of his works Lancer, but was subsequently excluded from the results after rival teams protested that the steering column on his Evo 9 wasn't homologated.
An ensuing hearing held by the MSA National Court decided that the event was subject to the International Sporting Code of the FIA as an international event and, although Mitsubishi accepted that the top of the column had been modified - both for safety reasons and to accommodate Wilks' height - it was argued that this was permitted under Appendix J, Article 254 / Article 6.7.3 of the International Sporting Code as the steering column forms part of one of the car's controls.
Having heard various arguments reporting concern about the security of the originally homologated part, and those from Team TQ.com's David Higgins who claimed that the Mitsubishi team should have informed other competitors of the potential danger of the homologated mounting, the court ruled in Mitsubishi's favour and reinstated Wilks as winner of the event.
Just as Wilks' prepared to celebrate however, the announcement was made that the saga required 'further investigation' at a meeting of the Motor Sports Council Investigatory Tribunal.
Having already been cancelled once, the Tribunal finally met late last week in an attempt to bring the saga to a conclusion, with the Tribunal finding that Mitsubishi Motors UK had 'put the consideration of competitive advantage above that of safety'.
While it ruled against suspension or exclusion, the Court ordered Mitsubishi to pay a total of £60,000 in fines and costs, although the decision not to exclude Wilks means he now secures the title.
“We were urged on behalf of MSA to consider penalties of disqualification and suspension,” the court ruling stated. “We decided that it would be wrong to impose either penalty in a case where we were not satisfied that the there had been any deliberate dishonesty or intentional breach.
“We heard submissions and argument on the question of financial penalty and costs. We were informed that MMUK had incurred costs of £15,000; MSA costs in excess of £55,000; Mr [Mark] Higgins costs (including loss of earnings) of £4,000; and the Court costs in excess of £10,000.