It’s a quarter of a century since the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo first made its way into FIA-level rallycross events. The ‘second’ level category had switched from two-wheel drive Group A to four-wheel drive Group N cars in 1993 but it was not until 1995 that the Lancer Evo appeared on the grid. But when it did, success was instant.
Norwegian Evind Opland won the first event in his E2 lancer and went on to win the championship in 1995. And in 1996. And 1997 and also in in 1998. After which the technical regulations changed again and the four-wheel drive cars were dismissed in favour of two-litre, front-drivers.
The Lancer Evo was supreme in the four-wheel drive Group N category, in the four years the cars were present they won 34 of the 42 events, but when the Group N days came to an end and those wanting to race an Evo had to move to the Supercar category things became harder.
Opland (above) made the step up to a Supercar in 1999 but his attempt at the class eventually failed because of budget shortfalls. Before he was forced out Opland scored two overall event wins, in Finland and in 1999 and Belgium in 2000, they remain the only ‘outright’ FIA championship rallycross victories for Mitsubishi.
Many driver have raced, and continue to use, the popular Mitsubishi, one of the most faithful stalwarts of the marque being British driver Steve Hill who has progressed through various versions since making the move from rallying to rallycross.
Hill enjoyed British championship event success with his Evo IX before replacing the car with his unique Evo X (below) which he continues to race to this day.
The journey to Supercar meant many modifications to the Evo, but there have also been those who have gone the other way Perhaps devolving rather than evovling? British racer Mark Williams raced a two-wheel drive version of the car that was originally built by Huybs in Belgium for the Euro2000 categrory .
Belgian brothers Jan and Bart Huybs later raced what was basically a fancy Group N+ car as a Supercar for several years before that car was also sold to Britain.
The new owner was David Binks who had progressed from Minicross to Supernational and made his move to Supercar in the Evo, launching a career move that would eventually take him to the US as a professional racer.
This is far from a definitive list of everyone who has ever raced a Lancer Evo in rallycross. Despite its relative lack of top level success it has been a popular choice in many national championships and continues to be a relatively cost efficient way in which to tackle the top class at domestic level. Along the way the car has been used by some who have rocked up at FIA level and torn chunks out of the big names. In Finland in 2012 a virtually unknown Estonian, Sten Oja, made a sensational splash in the European championship with his Evo (above).
Prime among those to have made great use of the Lancer Evo, and to have collected some scalps along the way, is Hungarian Zoltan Harsanyi (above), who continues to use his version with great effect to this day.
And as the Evo enters seniority it has also becoming eligible for rallycross’ blossoming historic scene, evergreen Czech racer Pavel Koutny races one in the Czech Trophy for Historic Rallycross Cars.
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