Mitsubishi will not return to the 'senior' level in the FIA World Rally
Championship in any capacity what-so-ever this season.
According to reports by www.rally.gr
Mitsubishi Japan have refused to allow the 'wannabe outfit', which would have been backed by Fly Emirates, to use the Lancer WRC05 and as such Toni Gardemeister and 2004 Middle East Rally champion, Khalid Al Qassimi
look unlikely to compete at the Rallye Monte Carlo or on the Swedish Rally. Both had been listed with the team/car as 'MMSP Ltd Lancer WR05'.
"I can confirm that there will not be a team in the WRC in 2007 using the Mitsubishi Lancer WRC 05," a spokesperson for the Emirates-backed outfit told Crash.net
News of a 'Manufacturer Team', which would probably have been known at the 'Fly Emirates Mitsubishi WRT', was first made public on December 14, fuelling speculation that Mitsubishi was going to return to the WRC.
Almost immediately though, the signs were not promising and the official WRC website, which broke the news, pulled its story within hours of it going live.
After that Mitsubishi denied talk of a 'return', noting that its position had not changed since they pulled out of the sport at the end of 2005.
However, at this stage, things were still said to be on track and it was thought that the outfit would still enter the sport, hopefully as a 'Manufacturer Team', but that the word 'Mitsubishi' would not be in the team title.
Under the FIA's regulations though, any team competing as a 'Manufacturer Team', must list a manufacturer, and with Mitsubishi unwilling to allow this, the project appeared to be on shaky ground.
On December 20, though Al Qassimi and Gardemeister were both included on the provisional entry list for the season opening Rallye Monte Carlo, renewing hope that the team would compete. Furthermore while the 'TBA' team were not included on the Manufacturer Teams list published by the FIA
on December 22, the fact entries remain open until March 12, still left the door open and on January 5, Al Qassimi and Gardemeister were also entered for Sweden.
With no official announcement though, those behind the team were starting to run out of time, and news that the project, at least with the Lancer's has been abandoned, was finally confirmed today [Monday].
Whether or not the team will now continue in a different form, possibly using two Subaru Impreza WRC cars, is uncertain, but www.rally.gr
reports that Team Emirates, will hold a press conference prior to the Rallye Monte Carlo, to confirm what its plans are. Where this leaves Gardemeister and Al Qassimi for Monte and Sweden is not known - but it doesn't look good.