1995 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III – The Long Road – 156
Simon Turner knew where he wanted to end up. It was just a matter of how he was going to get there.
Every so often, life pitches you an opportunity to live your dreams.
For Auckland’s Simon Turner, competing in the Dunlop Targa NZ has been a 10-year-long aspiration that NZPC has been happy to help make come true. Thanks to Peter and Vicki Martin at Targa NZ, who offered up free event entry (worth $5000!) to the winner of our 'Win A Targa Drive’ competition, Simon’s finally heading for the Targa start line, if a little sooner than he imagined.
We caught up with Simon about what he’s had to go through to get his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III up to task for Targa NZ’s annual event.
NZPC: What were your thoughts when you saw the opportunity for a free entry into the 15th Anniversary Dunlop Targa?
Simon Turner: That some lucky bastard was going to get the chance of a lifetime… but I never thought it would be me!
NZPC: You told us that it’s been a dream of yours to compete in the Dunlop Targa. Why is that, and what’s so appealing about the event?
ST: New Zealand has some of the best back roads in the world. And the reality is, it’s only on an event like this, on closed roads, that you get the chance to drive a car like the Evo to its ability. The challenge of doing that is the main attraction for me. Like all rallies, a lot depends on good driver judgement rather than screwing the last hundredth of a second from the car, as is the case with circuit events. That and the fact that everyone who has done the event says it’s great fun.
NZPC: How did you prepare for your entry to the competition?
ST: In my mind I basically first went through what was left to do on the car to get it ready for the event, to make sure the timeline was feasible and I wasn’t wasting everyone’s time. When it looked workable, I did some sums and got onto ATL Demolition, and put up the idea of winning an entry.
Once I had a prospective sponsor, I got in contact with Chris Alexander from Suspension Tech, who has had previous Targa experience, and asked him if he would be interested in co-driving if we won. From there it all came together in a hurry when we got news of actually winning the entry, and it hasn’t stopped since!
NZPC: Why do you think you were selected above the rest of the entrants?
ST: Probably because I could rely on the support of a good co-driver, crew and sponsors — and because I’m devilishly handsome too, of course.
NZPC: Uh-huh… What was your initial reaction when you found out you’d been selected?
ST: It actually took a day or so to sink in, but then I began to realise how much work and organisation was going to be involved. At times it’s been a bit daunting.
NZPC: How long have you been tangled up with Mitsubishis, and what was this car like when you got it?
ST: I’ve owned the car for about 10 years now. When I got it, it was pretty original with about 30,000km on the clock.
NZPC: It doesn’t look very original now!
ST: The modifications are pretty extensive; almost every area of the car has had some attention. It would be quicker to list the standard parts!
NZPC: Most modified street Evos seem to find their way to the drag strip. How come you didn’t go down that route?
ST: I didn’t really find driving in drag events much of a challenge, to be honest. The car was designed to be a bit of a road legal all-rounder, but it was definitely constructed with Targa and circuit events in mind. After watching previous Targa events and the tarmac rounds of the WRC, I wanted to build a Group A Evo III replica. It just got a bit out of hand, that’s all.
NZPC: That’s a comment we hear quite a lot over here… Our readers will recognise your car from having competed at a couple of our NZPC Super Lap events; what else have you competed at in the past?
ST: For the past four years I’ve competed in various club events and track days, and I’ve done a lot of open testing days at Pukekohe.
NZPC: At the last Super Lap event you destroyed the bottom end. What has been involved in the rebuild of this car? We understand you didn’t stop at simply replacing the bottom end!
ST: No, I didn’t! The last eight months have involved a complete firewall-forward rebuild, with a new brake and steering setup, a 2.2-litre engine and extensive suspension, driveline and chassis modifications.
NZPC: We’ve heard that you had a four-page list of stuff to do on the Evo to bring it up to Targa spec. What did that list have on it?
ST: Well, there’s not enough space here! But to give an idea: fitting an intercom, buying tyres, sorting out spare parts, re-doing the VIN/LVVC, confirming service vehicles, getting my national rally licence, fitting co-driver’s foot rest etcetera. Obviously the engine tune/setup had to be done with endurance rather than outright power in mind, too.
Most crucial have been the suspension changes, specifically softening spring rates and raising the ride height slightly. We’ve also fitted a sump guard to protect the car from harder landings.
NZPC: What preparations have you had to make to sort yourself and your crew out for Targa? What is involved with this event that you’re now finding out about?
ST: The biggest things would be getting all the paperwork sorted out these things take time. But it’s also understanding service timings and getting everyone in the right place at the right time. There’s more to it than first meets the eye.
NZPC: How many people have you got on board to help you?
ST: The team will total eight or nine people including service crew.
NZPC: Given that this is a race like no other, have you been able to do any sort of driving preparation?
ST: We’ve been able to give the car a shakedown but time has been against us, so seat time has been a bit scarce. There may have to be a bit of tweaking of the car’s setup on the actual event; we’ll see!
NZPC: With the event looming, what’s in your head right now?
ST: I’m getting a real sense of excitement on the lead-up to the event. I just can’t wait to get in the car and enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I would also like to thank Targa NZ, NZ Performance Car, ATL Demolition and Suspension Tech for giving me the support needed to take part in the event.
NZPC: All the best, Simon, and we look forward to your behind-the-scenes take on the event next issue!
1995 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution III – Specifications
Engine: Mitsubishi 4G63 2.2-litre DOHC 16V inline-4, decked block, bores honed, balance shafts removed, modified oil pump, nitrided/polished 4G68D crankshaft, ACL race bearings, ARP L19 rod bolts, Saenz forged competition rods, Wiseco forged pistons, Lynn Rodgers balanced bottom end, Ralliart head gasket, ported/polished head, ARP 12mm head stud kit, heavy-duty valve guides/retainers, Kelford heavy-duty valve springs, Kelford 280-degree stage III camshafts, HKS adjustable cam gears/cam belt, Simota air filter, custom alloy intake/intercooler piping, MSE-balanced Garrett GT3582R turbo, custom PMW steam pipe exhaust manifold, Tial 38mm external wastegate, custom 600x300x76mm PMW intercooler, 500hp in-tank fuel pump, 800hp Bosch 044 external fuel pump/filter, -6 fuel lines, custom fuel cell, Rochester 1000cc injectors, HKS fuel rail, Turbosmart FPR, Top Gear Autotech 3-inch exhaust, custom oil breather bottle, custom PMW radiator, Craig & Davis fan, Autronic SMC engine management system, Turbosmart e-Boost, Top Gun heavy duty leads, semi de-loomed engine bay, Ralliart engine mounts
Driveline: Modified factory 5-speed gearbox, carbotic paddle clutch, heavy-duty pressure place, rear LSD, 4-spider centre diff, Ralliart plate front LSD, Nolathane bush conversion, Evo IV RS steering rack
Suspension: Drummond Motorsport 3-way coil-overs, Eibach springs, K-Sport 12mm adjustable camber plates, Ralliart heavy duty bushes, Cusco H-pattern subframe brace, seam welded front/rear strut towers, modified front chassis rail and North/South crossmember
Brakes: ABS removed, modified master cylinder, Wilwood billet 4-pot callipers, 2-piece slotted rotors — front, factory callipers — rear, HEL braided brake lines, Carbotech XP 10 brake pads, Motul brake fluid
Wheels/Tyres: 17×7-inch Impul RS wheels/17×7-inch ANZ RGII wheels, 225/45R17 Dunlop Direzza 03G semi-slicks
Exterior: Factory Evo III bodykit, yellow respray, RS front doors, lightened RS rear doors, custom flared guards, 3mm alloy sump guard
Interior: Momo bucket seats, Willans 6-point harnesses, 8-point MSNZ-approved roll cage, Defi engine monitoring system — fuel pressure, water, oil temp, exhaust temp, MoTeC shift light, Monit rally meter, Greytronics intercom
Performance: Dyno Power — 350kW-at-the-wheels capable depending on boost settings, Pukekohe — 1:06.58, Taupo Track 2 — 1:18.35
Simon Turner – Driver Profile
Name: Simon Turner
Occupation: Project Manager — ATL Demolition
Dream car: Competition-prepped R35 GT-R, or Porsche GT3 RS, or something WRC-spec
Build time: 8 years
Length of ownership: 10 years
Simon thanks: Dirk Schmidt (Agent Orange), ATL Demolition, Chris @ Suspension Tech, Tim @ Pro Coat, Peter & Vicki Martin @ Targa NZ, Andrew, Jarred, Stephan, Gordon and the crew @ Garage RR, Steve @ Demon Graphics, Kerry @ Top Gear Autotech, Kent @ Speed Source, NZPC magazine
Interview: Gray Lynskey Photos: Dan Wakelin
This article is from NZ Performance Car issue 157. Click here to check it out.