Mitsubishi enjoyed a solid run on the Ulster International Rally after Guy Wilks and Gwyndaf Evans finished second and third in the latest round of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Touring Car Championship.
Wilks had led early on before running into mechanical problems and suffering a spin that lost him time to eventual winner Mark Higgins, while Evans – called into the team to replace Phillip Morrow – celebrated his return to the series by completing the podium finishers.
Wilks got off to his now familiar flying start and went through the first stage three seconds quicker than anyone else. Mark Higgins occupied second spot, with Evans third, who admitted he was having to dial himself back into competitive rallying after a ten-month lay-off, whilst also acclimatise to his new co-driver.
All was going according to plan until Wilks felt something amiss with his car's rear differential and he coasted across the finish line of SS4. With only two-wheel-drive for the remaining pair of stages before the overnight halt, the reigning British Champ did well to only drop 38 seconds to Higgins and end the day still in second place, Evans now holding a comfortable third.
On the first stage of the second day, Wilks scythed nearly eight seconds off his deficit to Higgins, but on the very next, he locked-up on some mud whilst trying to slow the car down for a square right. Normally he could have just overshot the junction, but because the exit road was blocked by spectators, he spun his Evo into a bank, broke a wheel and severely bent the rear suspension.
Although the damage was repaired at the next service halt, Wilks was now over a minute down on Higgins and with his car not handling as well, he was unable to try and catch Higgins and finished a minute behind in second place.
“I'm pleased for the team that we got two cars home, but to be honest I'm disappointed not to take the win,” he reflected. “I'm sure that if we hadn't had the mechanical problems on Friday that things would be different, as I wouldn't have had to push so hard on Saturday. It just makes the rest of the year a bit tougher, but I still think we can do it.”
Evans meanwhile, getting to grips with his surroundings with each stage, brought his car home to a solid third place and he was understandably pleased with the result.
“Jumping straight into a rally car and expecting to be on the pace from the word go is more difficult than it looks, so I'm very pleased to have finished a comfortable third,” he said. “It was a case of keeping a watching brief on Mark and Guy and picking up the pieces if anything happened to them. I'm also pleased that I was able to deliver the result the team had asked this weekend.”