“With proper development and homologation of parts, they could have been equal to the (Ford) Sierras,” racing great Kevin Bartlett told Shannons Club as he reflected on a brief and frustrating time in his career racing the ‘works’ Mitsubishi Starion in 1980s Group A touring car racing.
“The wheelbase and track dimensions were well suited to racing. I liked the way it handled and overall it was quite a good little car to drive, but it was mainly the engine (in Group A form) that let it down.
“Like the Sierra, it had a turbocharged 2.0 litre four cylinder but the huge amount of development that went into the Ford engine with Cosworth was light years ahead of where Mitsubishi was at that stage.
“A few years later Mitsubishi brought out some brilliant engines for their world rally program. It’s frustrating to look back on it because a Starion with one of those (Lancer) Evo-type engines as a touring car would have been an absolute rocket-ship!”
The history of the Mitsubishi Starion in Australian motor sport tells two very different stories from the same period of racing. One is of dominance of the Group E series production category.
The other is of a Ralliart-backed Group A touring car program which never realised its true potential.