After competing in the World Rally Championship for 24 years, the Mitsubishi Ralliart Team got the title that they had always wished for, the WRC Manufacturer's Championship crown. In addition to this long dreamed of achievement, Tommi Makinen in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution became the first driver in history to take three consecutive world rally championship driver's titles (1996, 97, 98), thus making a clean sweep of all the outright honors available to competitors in the 1998 WRC. On top of this, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution mounted Gustavo Trelles had already confirmed that he was Gr-N World Driver's Champion, and this means that Mitsubishi took all three WRC Championship crowns in a complete and utter domination of the 1998 FIA World Rally Championship results.|
Mitsubishi showed that it has the best overall ability at the highest level of world rally sport by taking victory in the WRC!
This season's World Rally Championship was an incredibly competitive one, and it was in fact the most hotly contested that most people could recall in the history of the WRC. From the very first event there were four major works teams participating; Mitsubishi, Toyota, Subaru and Ford. These teams alone had a fierce battle for honors until mid season, and then Spanish car producer SEAT also entered its own World Rally Car making it five makers, and toward the end of the season Peugeot and Citroen made spot entries meaning that there were a total of 7 automobile companies from various parts of the world all locked in a tight struggle for points and podium places, a scene not witnessed for many years.
At the end of the eighth round of the series, the Acropolis Rally, which is usually regarded as the half way point of the season, the victory scores were Mitsubishi 3, Subaru 3, and Toyota 2, making a three way fight with every team in similar points positions. The top teams all continued to attack each other ferociously. However, at the 10th round, the Finland Rally, the Mitsubishi team started its campaign for the overall title in earnest. Tommi Makinen took his Lancer Evolution to victory for the fifth year in succession on this event and then won the Sanremo Rally and the Rally Australia on the trot, an effort which put him, with one rally to go, at the top of the leader board for the first time in the '98 season. The last event, the Rally of Great Britain, would be the decider between Mitsubishi and Toyota for the Manufacturer's title, and Tommi Makinen and Carlos Sainz (Toyota) for the Driver's crown. In the end, the events of the tense, up-and-down final round were symbolic of the free-for-all fight that the season itself had been. First, Makinen retired on the first leg, leaving the Mitsubishi team in an emotional black cloud. However, Richard Burns put in a magnificent effort to take the lead on the second day and with the retirement of the Toyota of Didier Auriol it meant that Mitsubishi was looking very good for the Manufacturer's Championship. It was the emotional retirement of fourth placed Sainz on the last Special Stage of the rally that was the real climax of the season, because it made Makinen Driver's Champion. Young hero, Richard Burns, took his second victory of the season and his efforts gave the Manufacturer's Championship laurels to Mitsubishi. This is the first time that one team has taken both championships since Subaru achieved the feat in 1995.
It was the last part of the season that really showed the marvelous strength of Mitsubishi, and the total of seven victories being more than any other team is just another expression of that strength. This strength is an integral part of the Mitsubishi Lancer, and it is the over thirty years of Mitsubishi's participation in motorsport that has cultivated the technical know-how to make these victories possible.
World Rally Championship is the highest level of motorsport in the world for production cars. It is in this environment that Mitsubishi Motor Corp. has competed and proven its technical prowess to the world by having a Mitsubishi product, the Lancer, attain the supreme accolade; Champion of the World.