British motorsport and automotive specialist MML Sports has welcomed the new class structure for the returning 2016 MSA British Rally Championship, confirmed on the series' new website. The company, which has just won both the 2015 FIA African Rally Championship and the 2015 Kenyan national Rally Championship - the first team ever to do so - is poised to supply base cars, parts and fully-built Group N or R4 Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionX rally cars for next year's season.
The company, which was created from the former works Mitsubishi rally team in 2009, has been operating in various countries and regions since the manufacturer withdrew from the sport at the end of 2005, using its fleet of Mitsubishi Lancer WRC World Rally Cars and the Group N Lancer EvoX it developed.
It was also tasked by Mitsubishi Motor Company to co-develop the successful R4 (as was) conversion kit, designed to ensure that Group N/R4-specification cars were competitive against the initial concept of Super2000 cars.
While cars running to R4 specification (known as VR4) are no longer eligible for FIA European events, they are allowed in Africa, where the two Team Kibos R4 Mitsubishi EvoX cars won the ARC and KnRC series respectively in 2015 with driver Jassi Chatthe.
The class structure for the 2016 MSA British Rally Championship appears to allow both R4 and Group N specification cars to compete, although R4 will be run in the same class as R5, Regional Rally Cars and Super 2000 - called BRC1.
However, while on paper the larger and heavier Mitsubishis are at a disadvantage, they can hold their own, as recently demonstrated on Rally Estonia, the sixth round of the FIA European Rally Championship, where three of the top four finishing cars were Group N Mitsubishis.
And while the BRC1 class will pit R4 cars against R5s and RRCs, the BRC2 category is host to Group N cars over 2000cc, which includes the Group N specification of the Lancer EvolutionX.
MML Sports developed its own GpN version of the EvoX some years ago and also has a supply of base Lancer EvoX RS models at its UK headquarters, bought directly from Mitsubishi in Japan. It has a stock of all the necessary parts to build a car to either Group N or R4 specification and can supply ready-built cars to compete in the 2016 BRC season, in either R4 or GpN specification.
Commenting, MML Sports Managing Director John Easton said; "I think the class structure for next year's British Rally Championship is very well developed. It gives drivers of both R4 and Group N cars somewhere to compete, which will help to keep these invaluable classes alive.
"When R4 was made ineligible for FIA European events, we thought that might have been the end of the category but we have demonstrated in Africa this year that it is both competitive and reliable - two of the key characteristics for any rally group. The fact that both specifications of car can be used in the BRC next year is excellent news.
"I think on some events, the R4 cars will be closer to the R5s and RRCs than on others but certainly, within BRC2, which hopefully will see the age-old rivalry between Mitsubishis and Subarus, then we should see some excellent battles.
"Group N remains a very cost-effective category and I am delighted that it - and the more competitive R4 class - both have a place in next year's British Rally Championship."
Base cars and parts are available from stock from MML Sports while completed cars can be ordered ready for the start of the 2016 season. For more information, go to the company's website - www.mml-sports.com.