Mitsubishi has confirmed that they will return to the FIA World Rally Championship full-time in 2005, however a new president - namely Isao Torii, replaces Sven Quandt, who will spearhead the programme.

Mitsubishi will also take part in the Rallye Catalunya - Rallye de Espana, the 15th round of the 2004 FIA WRC calendar, being held in Spain later this month as a build-up to their come-back, following their decision to miss the final rounds of this year's championship. Gilles Panizzi and Daniel Sola will pilot the Lancer WRC04's.

A statement from the Japanese firm stated:

"The new appointment has been made to add impetus to the three-year restructuring plan the company's WRC programme is currently undergoing."

Torii's appointment is effective as from today [October 1].

"Motor sports is vital to MMC in that it gives material form and expression to the company's identity, to its DNA. The reforms that Sven Quandt initiated over the last two years as president of MMSP GmbH have been significant and I give him due credit for the progress made to date," stated Akira Kijima, managing director and head of products operations, who is in overall charge of MMC motor sports programmes.

"Mr Quandt was also instrumental in MMC's ninth victory on the Dakar 2004 and initiated the Lancer WRC04 car, which is the first real WRC car for MMC.

"We decided to put Mr Torii in charge of MMSP GmbH after reaching the conclusion that to accelerate these reforms and to add weight to MMC's motor sports structure, we needed someone from within the MMC organisation with the necessary experience and qualifications."

New MMSP GmbH president Torii has the international experience required for his new job after postings to MMC's R&D units in Europe and the United States, where as an engineer his duties included vehicle testing of such models as the Mirage ("Colt" in Europe), GTO and Eclipse. MMC judged that Mr Torii's vehicle development capabilities, his overseas work experience and his outstanding management skills made him the right man to head the company's motor sports unit.

Mr Torii had the following to say about his appointment: "MMC is blessed in having Mario Fornaris as technical director of MMSP Ltd., our WRC development unit based in Rugby, U.K., and Dominique Serieys as the managing director of MMSP SAS, our cross-country rally development unit based in France. My job will be to assist these able leaders in performing to the maximum of their abilities and to strengthen the teamwork between MMC and the units under its command. As well as ensuring success for MMC motor sports, this approach will also ensure that the valuable technology and passion nurtured through our motor sports programmes is fed back to our production models and after-service."

As a warm-up to the 2005 Paris-Dakar Rally, when the company will bid for its fifth consecutive and 10th overall crown, MMSP will also enter two Pajero Evolutions piloted by Hiroshi Masuoka and Stephane Peterhansel in the UAE Desert Challenge 2004, to be held in the United Arab Emirates between October 11-15.

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