Mitsubishi Lancer: differentiate yourself and differentiate yourself to win

Mitsubishi Lancer: differentiate yourself and differentiate yourself to win

Since Lancia left the race in 1992, the Japanese have dominated the race. Previously two years of Toyota’s reign with Kankkunen, Auriol and even earlier with Sainz who had been able to compete with the house of Chivasso at the same level. Then in ’95 McRae won his world championship to give Subaru the constructors’ title. Finally, in ’96, to close the era of Group A, the house of pleiades repeats the success of the previous year but stops. Mäkinen pilots iris. The only brand, with good results, that did not come from Rising Sun, in that period was Ford which, due to reliability problems, will often find itself, between the middle and the end of the 1990s, in the role of supporting the actor despite the cars Like. Escorth and Focus with pilots of the caliber of Biasion, Delecour, Kankkunen, Burns and Sainz alike, McRae and Mäkinen.

In 1997 an epochal turning point takes place. The rules are changed and so the World Rally Car (WRC) is born. Cars derived from the series but more independent in their development. Suffice it to say that a small range of twenty cars is enough to justify the WRC against the 2500 of the old Group A. Of course, these twenty cars must in any case be based on a car that has an annual production of 25,000 units but it is still a very good discount. Power remains at 300 HP with a turbo intake flange up to 34 mm.

Car manufacturers follow the rules and deliver new cars. Subaru is preparing to face the season with an all-new Impreza WRC with Colin McRae as a top driver. In Ford you stay with Cosworth specially adapted for the WRC class and aimed Sainz which in the future season will be connected with it Kankkunen. The Finn was left without a steering wheel after Toyota’s disapproval due to an unusual flange. Toyota which for its part, after spending ’96 licking its wounds due to exclusion from the world championship set by the FIA, is preparing its new weapon. Corolla, of course, will make his debut in Finland with Auriol and Grönholm but will not compete for the ’97 title.

Among the main characters there is also Mitsubishi. Japanese technicians, unlike other teams, decide to do first Lancer Evo IV, obsolete Group A. However, Evo IV is not just an evolution of Evo III. In Tokyo, in fact, they completely overturn the mechanics of their car. The Lancer comes equipped with a scrollable turbocharger to solve turbo-lag. In addition to the review of the engine components, from the piston to the camshaft, it is thought to turn the propeller by 180 °, together with the gearbox, for a better distribution of weight. Weight is reduced and power is increased by 10 HP.

The real innovation, however, is Active Yaw Control (AYC), in Italian: active yaw control. Basically a device that allows, through sensors, to properly control the skid. Usually a WRC car was equipped three differences. The first, the middle one, which distributes the torque between the rear and front axles. Then, there are two differentials on the two axles which in turn divide the torque between the right and left wheels. There are several types of differences. Two overpasses are open and closed. Opening is best in normal conditions. However, when the wheel should start to slide or spin because it is lifted off the ground, all the torque would go in the opposite direction while the wheel in contact with the ground would not receive power from the engine. This will create friction. The opposite side is closed. It’s basically like having a solid axle that torque is sent to both wheels in all conditions. You would get out of scratch but it would be very difficult to guide it. In fact, the locked differential makes the wheels spin at the same speed even during cornering. Ideal condition for those who want to ski but definitely not in a rally especially on the road where there is a need for the inside wheel to turn more slowly than the outside.

Between these two extremes there are thousands of solutions which we summarize, without going into detail, under one category of Small Differences in Skiing (LSD, Small Slip Variations). These allow in different ways to always have a minimum amount of torque on both wheels. In this way, both traction and cornering are enabled. Usually, however, most of the torque is still delivered to the wheel that is slipping. We find this type of difference on the front axle of the Evo IV. When about The middle Lancer has different simple open equipment. The revolution, as mentioned, is in the reverse differential.

Mitsubishi engineers equip their car with an electronic system. Thanks to sensors installed on the steering wheel, wheels, accelerator and g-force meters, they send signals to the control unit. The control unit in turn controls the rear differential. This way it can theoretically send up to 100% of the torque to the wheel with the least grip. If, on the other hand, the car should be on the ground, the control unit causes the differential to send torque to the outside rear wheel to have an oversteer that compensates.

The ’97 season opens with a victory for the Subaru of Piero Liatti assisted by Patrizia Pons in Montecarlo. A result that will go down in history and which allows Liatti to remain the last Italian to win a world championship race. Then follow the success of Eriksson and McRae always with the Impreza. The house of pleiades seems to rule the world but Mäkinen wins against good teams in Portugal and Spain. Another success in Argentina and again at his home race in the 1000 Laghi will allow the Finn to take the drivers’ title for the second time in a row. However, the constructors’ championship ends up in the hands of Subaru.

For the following year, the 1998, Mitsubishi decides to put the Evo 4 at the beginning of the season. However, opponents change, or rather increase. Toyota, with the new Corolla, immediately set the same record. Sainz dominates Monte Carlo and leaves only crumbs for his rivals. The Lancer helps in Sweden with Mäkinen and in Safari with the first victory of young Richard Burns. Colin McRae and Subaru did not give up and achieved success in Portugal, at the Tour de Corse and at the Acropolis. However, the mistakes of the Scotsman and Subaru that do not allow him to play in the world championship are too many. Didier Auriol is deployed in Spain while Sainz wins again in New Zealand. Tommy Mäkinen, however, manages to force himself in Argentina, Finland, Sanremo and Australia and the new Evo 5. The ending at RAC is sad. Mäkinen breaks the right rear wheel of his Lancer. Sainz finds himself directly with the title in his hands but unfortunately the engine of his Toyota Corolla abandons him 300 meters from the end. The world goes to Tommy Mäkinen that he was already at the airport ready to go home and Mitsubishi will win its only constructors’ championship in history.

During the years Mitsubishi will also use an active Central Differential. The principle of using the control unit as in AYC is the same but this time on the central difference and with different settings depending on whether the surface is asphalt, dirt or snow. Sadly, the adoption of this new feature comes at a time when Mitsubishi is moving away from conventions. The Japanese brand has succeeded, taking a different path from its rivals, entering history and the hearts of many fans in any case.

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors