02 October 2013

Mitsubishi Mirage Gymkhana Series

Words by Beeboy Bargas | Photos by Christopher Kho

mitsubishi mirage race carStaging an auto test drive for a new vehicle entails an enormous risk for any vehicle manufacturer or distributor. There are so many variables that come into play. An accident can happen, which is to some degree may be unavoidable in such an activity. Like a game of chance, the risk just gets higher and higher as more test drives are done - be it the motoring press or a special group like the brands club or a big fleet client. It’s a numbers game. The more they are out being driven the higher the risk.

I liken it as, at least the emotional part, Imagine You being the Distributor/manufacturer as a new car owner as in its your 1st brand new car you have ever purchased and someone asks to try driving it. Ask yourself, How would you feel? Now imagine a line of 50 people just waiting to get their turn at the wheel. Are you starting to get nervous now? Are you worried that your newly purchased and prized possession is going to end up like a run down and ruined by the time the 50 people are done.

But of course as a brand this is what its all about, letting these select groups use your brands vehicle to evaluate, talk, and write about and in some cases be criticized. It is part of the marketing of any new product.

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) is not a newbie in the test drive game; having been manufacturing cars in the country for decades and hosting a great number of vehicle launches. With the new Mitsubishi Mirage they went a step further by staging a series of competition for the motoring press, fleet buyers and Mitsubishi car clubs. The event series dubbed Mitsubishi Mirage gymkhana, is a series of timed competition on a short precision driving course that will subject the new Mirage to high structural stress, high engine revolutions and sudden suspension shifts. This is all fine and well for high performance cars but for a subcompact?! MMPC sending their baby Mirage hatchback to be raced in box stock form definitley reeks of confidence in and speaks volumes about the new Mirage’s platform.

Mitsubishi Mirage Gymkhanadsc02802dsc02860dsc02959

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dsc04259dsc04262dsc04275dsc04330Four legs were staged for the series, each leg is a side by side run with 2 vehicles running a parallel identical course with the possibility of the other car catching up with the other if one runs slow enough. Much like a number of autocross races world wide. Each leg also had its own special challenges. For example, in one leg a water container was added to the game and the object is to have the most amount of water remaining in the container. The container, incidentally, is mounted on the bonnet of the Mirage while the competitors tackle the course. In another leg of the series, wooden planks have to be negotiated and not make the wheel not fall of or else one gets a penalty point. While in another the competitors has to do a parallel parking exercise with out hitting the marker cones or risk getting a penalty. Needless to say many cones suffered at the hands of highly competitive drivers, all in an effort to bring home the best time.

Going back to what the gymkhana is all about, the Mirage, despite the constant abuse it was subjected to came out unscathed. MMPC had complete confidence in their product that it can handle the abuse of 4 legs and an average of 50 participants per leg, they only allocated three vehicles to be used for the competition one being a back up car to be used only in case the unthinkable happens. Fortunately it did not. No improvements have been made on the vehicles. No stress bar on the McPherson strut towers, no reinforcing on the unibody structure. The only mods made were some lightening via removal of the back seat for a little less weight, fatter Nitto tires for higher G turns, a dallop more power via a SpeedLab K&N Intake and HotPipes headers. So if your one of the many waiting for your new Mirage you can rest assured that the new Mitsubishi Mirage can handle your daily commute for years on end.

To make the contest more mercenary like MMPC dangles a real big carrot for the participants with the series winning team getting a Php100,000 1st prize, Php50,000 for second and Php25,000 for third.

The prizes certainly made for some pretty interesting competition among the participants. 

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dsc04471dsc04472dsc04476dsc04504The per leg race results are as follows.

Leg 1: AutoIndustriya.com in 1st, Top Gear Philippines in 2nd, and Manila Bulletin coming in 3rd.

Leg 2: C! Magazine 1st, followed by Top Gear Philippines A in 2nd, and Top Gear Philippines B in

3rd.

Leg 3: STV in 1st; Ai in 2nd, and TGP in 3rd.

4th leg went to STV in first, Top Gear B in 2nd and Our very own Kotse.Com In third.

 

*Ed's note: This isn't the first time a car brand has used motorsports as a proving ground, locally, to show the strengths of their vehicles. In recent history with The Honda Media Challenge series, Toyota with the Toyota Corolla Cup series, and participation in the SVI Challenge at the now defunct Subic International Raceway in the mid 90's via factory backed teams from Hyundai, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota. With the forthcoming Toyota Vios Cup and ongoing Hyundai Genesis Coupe Lateral D series, we're looking forward to the day comes again when we see factory backed race teams in the various disciplines of motorsports.