Guy Wilks has now been confirmed as the winner of the International Rally Yorkshire after the MSA revealed the results of Mitsubishi's appeal into his exclusion from the event.

Wilks had dominated the event at the wheel of his works Mitsubishi Lancer, but was then excluded from the event after David Higgins' Team TQ.com protested that the steering column on the Evo 9 wasn't homologated.

At a hearing of the MSA National Court, it was decided that the event was subject to the International Sporting Code of the FIA as an International event.

Mitsubishi accepted that the top of the column had been modified, but 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.

The Court heard evidence from Chris Hodgson, technical manager of ADR Motorsport who builds and runs Wilks' Mitsubishi, and Paul Brigden, general manager of Ralliart UK and team principal of Mitsubishi Motors UK works rally team.

Hodgson told the court that the method of attaching the steering wheel to the Evo IX's homologated steering column was not sufficiently robust for competitive use and as a result, changes had had to be made.

"We first experienced a serious problem with the pinch bolt fixing on the steering column of the Mitsubishi Evo VIII MR in early 2005," he said. "This model was the first to have a pinch bolt fixing on the steering column whereas the Evo VIII had a taper and nut type fixing.

"The problem was that the steering wheel easily came loose under rally use when attached to the pinch bolt fixing on the steering column. When the steering wheel worked loose it would simply spin round on the steering column without turning it. The splines on the pinch bolt fixing are very fine and do not enable the steering wheel to be fixed to the steering column securely enough for rally use.

"We therefore changed the pinch bolt top fixing of that steering column for the standard Mitsubishi taper and nut fixing from the Evo VIII steering column, because the pinch bolt type fixing was clearly not suitable for rally use."

The Court also received a statement from Patrick Malley, a driver for M Rally Team competing in the New Zealand Rally Championship and the Pirelli Star Driver Championship, running a Group N Mitsubishi Evo IX.

"I was coming around a fifth gear corner at approximately 150kph when the steering wheel completely broke off from the top of the steering column," his statement read, before going on to state that a replacement steering boss had failed in the same manner the following day after contact with a bank.

Although David Higgins argued that the Mitsubishi team should have informed other competitors of the potential danger of the homologated mounting, with the team arguing that the issue was made worse by the column being extended to cope with Wilks' extra height, the court ruled in Mitsubishi's favour and reinstated Wilks into the result.

"Having considered all of the available evidence, the Court concluded that the modification of the steering column, while not homologated, could be allowed under Appendix J, Article 254 / Article 6.7.3 of the International Sporting Code," an MSA statement read. "As a result, the Court decided that the appeal must be allowed.

"The Court felt it appropriate to make the following additional comments:

i: That if Mitsubishi have such genuine concerns that they consider the pinch bolt type of attachment to be inadequate for rally use, they should immediately make those concerns known to all persons using vehicles of this type for rallying, and that

ii: They should take such steps as are necessary to regularise general use of the taper and nut attachment by specific reference within the Regulations so far as possible.

"The Court ordered that the appeal fees be refunded and the results of the Trackrod International Rally Yorkshire be re-issued with Car number 1 reinstated as the event winner. No order was made towards costs."

 

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