Mitsubishi will return to the FIA World Rally Championship in 2004, following their sabbatical this season, and MMSP team boss, Sven Quandt, has revealed that their priority is 'reliability', before 'racing the others again' in 2005.

Mitsubishi will enter two Lancer WRC cars next year, one driven by asphalt ace, Gilles Panizzi and the other by Kristian Sohlberg, and it will be 'more or less' a completely new model, having been modified by MMSP's technical director Mario Fornaris, who, according to the team 'has supervised improvements to the engine, transmission, suspension, aerodynamics and a new body shell'.

"For next year the aim is to consolidate, to study the competitors and competition and get a car which is reliable, especially with all the new parts," said Quandt. "It is more or less a completely new car. In the second half of the 2004 season we can start to be competitive.

"The specification of the car will not change that much during the season. The priority is reliability, getting the bugs out of the car.

"In 2005, I think we can really start to race against the others again."

"I think it will be more difficult for all the teams with 16 rallies [in 2004]," added Quandt. "It's going to be tough trying to carry out development while building and running cars.

"There are many rallies close together, which is going to need good organisation, and we will need to make more use of airfreight than ever before, but I am confident in the changes we have made to the team structure and our goals now are to improve the car and develop new drivers.

"Obviously, we are looking forward very much to a rally in Japan and I have to say, in Mexico too. These are definitely rallies that are very interesting for us - and everybody. Mexico is pretty close to the US market and I think there will be a lot of interest."

Mitsubishi plan to begin testing the 'almost' new Lancer WRC in the next few weeks.

Picture credit: Mitsubishi.



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