Mitsubishi Motors has registered a two-car entry for the 2005 FIA World Rally Championship and the team will contest all 16 rounds of the series with the latest specification Mitsubishi World Rally Car, the Lancer WRC05. The driver line-up includes Finland's Harri Rovanperä, Frenchman Gilles Panizzi, and Italy's "Gigi" Galli.
Thirty-eight-year-old Rovanperä will contest all 16 rounds of the championship, the Finn providing the team with valuable knowledge of all events in the series; in particular the gravel rounds the Mitsubishi Motors Motor Sports team missed during the 2004 season.
"The championship is more and more dominated by gravel rallies and we need a driver who knows all these events very well. Harri Rovanperä is a good loose surface driver, especially on the high-speed events," said Isao Torii.
Panizzi will run selective races in the season, notably the sealed-surface events where Mitsubishi has high expectations of the Frenchman being a potential winner. Gigi Galli will share the second Lancer WRC05 with Panizzi, although a third car may be entered on some European events.
The Lancer WRC05 which has undergone months of intense development work will break cover at the 2005 Rallye Monte-Carlo, January's season-opening event.
With the various changes in the FIA World Rally Championship regulations for 2005, the Mitsubishi Motor Sports team has seized this chance to redevelop key areas of the Lancer WRC05. One of the most notable changes permits manufactures to increase the width of the car body shell by 30mm, from 1770mm to 1800mm.The Lancer WRC05 now has re-designed front and rear wings, rear quarters and bumpers, making subtle visual changes but aiding stability.
"Our target is to finish all the development work for the Lancer WRC05 within the first six months of the season," stated Technical Director Mario Fornaris. "Then we can really focus on results, podium finishes and our championship aspirations for 2006."
One of the other most significant changes to the Mitsubishi Lancer World Rally Car will be that it will run on Pirelli tires for the first time. "We have very good test results with Pirelli and are very impressed with their professional approach and the facilities it is putting at our disposal," added Fornaris.