Joey@WORKS On Tuesday, April 21, 2009


It’s Only New Once.
One almost feels bad sending a shiny new race car out to get beaten in the dirt, but when you see it come in for its first service with a bit of that Northwest mud on its flanks, it’s just right.

The start of a rally is both a blessing and a curse. After the blur that was the last month and a half, passing tech inspection Friday evening with no issues and sending our shiny new Evo 9 out to its debut Parc Expose on Saturday morning meant that all the long hours and lost sleep while building and preparing the car were over. On the other hand, it meant the start of what will undoubtedly be a long weekend of work for all involved.

Our car seems to be receiving a warm reception, especially as we’re the only Mitsubishi among a sea of Subarus in Rally America’s Super Production class. We’ve made fast friends with the other Mitsubishi teams in Open and Group 5, a couple of which are already customers of WORKS.

After three stages and two services, all is running well. Lars is getting comfortable with the car but not pushing too hard and has had no major issues. Other than having to make a slight “revision” to a turn-down in the underbody gravel shield, a recurring check engine light, and making a change to the front upper shock mounts (which seem to be taking a beating), the car is holding up well. So far, it seems to be pretty frugal with regards to brake and tire wear, though that will likely change as we pick up speed. It’s a learning experience for everyone, even though a few of us have rallied for years. This is our first outing in a powerful AWD car, one capable of generating a lot more force in all directions, so development will come with time as we learn how the car behaves (read: fails).
The end of day one brought a few issues with the car, all of which were repaired in Taholah before heading back to the hotel. The car came in dragging the exhaust on the ground because the resonator (not a WORKS part)came apart at its flanges and required a welding repair, the center gravel tray required some cutting to make it more service friendly, and the mudflaps needed to be trimmed and re-fastened all around. Really, as far as rally cars go, this is incredibly minor stuff. The mechanics of Tanner Foust’s Rockstar team suffered a hard night’s work on their new Evo X, including a deft welding repair to their broken downpipe by our own Lars Wolfe, and repairing some serious issues with their transfer case. So all things considered, it could have been worse.

The second day dawned bright and sunny, a good sign. We made the hour long transit to service in South Bend, on the Willapa River, found ourselves a prime spot and settled in. The first service went as smoothly as any, with only a couple of rattles in the suspension noted. These were due to the top shock nuts backing off front and rear despite being tightened at every service opportunity, so we’ll have to come up some means of locking them down for Oregon Trail. Other than that, the car is running fast and reliably, and is still the same shape it was when we started so I’ve no reason for complaint. There’s only one stage before Service 2 so hopefully it’s more of the same. In the meantime, it’s a beautiful day in South Bend, much better than the cold and wind of Taholah yesterday.

This was the single smoothest service in my rally career. No complaints, car in the air and wheels off, once over on the suspension, brakes, and fluids with no problems to report, and a splash of fuel. We even had time to wipe the car down before sending it off for the final stages of the day, including the famous “Brooklyn.” Well done all around. This rally was a good shakedown for Oregon Trail in a month, which will undoubtedly be much more challenging.