The legendary 4G63T 2-liter turbocharged engine powered Mitsubishi’s all-conquering AWD monster, the Lancer Evolution, for the better part of two decades. Both the iron-block engine and the chassis underwent incremental changes through the first nine generations of this flagship gravel spitter, but no radical alterations were made in large part because of the homologation requirements associated with keeping the EVO WRC legal. But then, after withdrawing from WRC competition, this evolutionary approach was dropped in favor of a complete redesign for the Evolution X, including a totally new powerplant—the aluminum-block 4B11T—and a more mature look and driving experience.
At first, the revolutionary redo for the Evolution X was a source of outrage among the EVO faithful, but it didn’t take long for enthusiasts and tuner shops to sink their teeth into the X and start to realize just what an amazing machine it really is. Ryan Gates was one of those early adopters, having owned an Evolution IX that he was taking to the track regularly and planned to build into a serious time attack machine. But then, when the new EVO came out last year, something about it captivated his imagination enough that he quickly sold his IX on a local EVO forum and bought the shiny new Octane Blue Pearl X you see here.
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Ryan grew up racing motocross and karts. But at the ripe old age of 19, he suffered yet another motocross injury and decided it was time to find a motorsport that was easier on the body but would still fulfill his go-fast needs. That’s when he picked up an EVO IX, which was replaced just one year later with this X. According to Ryan, “Without knowing anyone in the industry, I planned to see how I would do racing at some of the larger events around the U.S. and hope for the best. I set out to compete in the Super Lap Battles, NASA TT Midwest series and the Redline time attack series.”
As it turns out, Ryan did know somebody in the industry, having bumped into Martin Musial from AMS Performance at a track event at Road America. In the EVO world, that’s the equivalent of bumping into Tiger Woods at the driving range. Having seen just how awesome AMS’s time attack EVO was, Ryan knew he wanted to work with them when it came time to build his X into the track car of his dreams. “My original plan for the car was mild—just a few bolt-ons and some coilovers. Needless to say, that kind of changed.”
Initially, Ryan did stay the course, having AMS install one of its intakes along with its larger front-mount intercooler and piping, a titanium exhaust system and a set of KW coilovers. Ryan also upgraded to a complete set of two-piece Girodisc rotors, AMS braided brake lines and custom front brake ducts to ensure consistent braking during the extreme conditions found on the racetrack. He ran the car like this at a few events and did quite well, but he found himself wanting more power. Back to AMS for some ECU tuning, where Chris Black worked his tuning magic and bumped horsepower by more than 100 ponies at the wheels for a total of 355 whp and 365 wtq. “Once I had the ECU tuned, the car remained that way for the rest of the ’08 season [from mid-May on] and I was winning all the Midwest NASA events and setting track records, scored some podiums at Redline events in Street class and qualified for the Super Lap Battle finals at the Road Atlanta event where I also set the Street class track record.”
An impressive start to a rookie time attack season, to be sure, but it wasn’t all champagne and caviar for Ryan and his X. “At the 2008 NASA Championships in September at Mid Ohio, there were a few hurdles. First time at the track, first time on R-compounds on the X and in a 3,500-pound car, during the first session out on the track I broke the track record for TT-A and was immediately called to tech! After dissecting my car and checking the rules, they realized I wasn’t cheating and let me continue. Later that night, they looked over the rules again and decided I was in violation of a rule. They read it differently than I did, so they negated all my times and I needed to find a stock intake to get back into my class. With help from AMS, I had one overnighted and was good to go. I pulled off the win, took the TT-A Championship and set the class track record.” OK, so maybe it is all champagne and caviar for Ryan, but at least he had to work for it!
With only the Super Lap Battle finals at Buttonwillow remaining, Ryan decided to step things up by having AMS upgrade the turbo to a Forced Performance Red along with an AMS fuel surge tank, Walbro 255 fuel pump, 780cc RC fuel injectors and a Cusco 1.5-way rear LSD. The turbo upgrade bumped power output by another 100 whp without adding any lag, putting Ryan’s X healthily into the 450-whp range. That’s some serious jam out of an internally stock 4B11, but unfortunately, Ryan’s X suffered some suspension issues and finished second in his class, just 5/100ths of a second behind the class winner. Ryan was a bit disappointed to close the 2008 season with a Second Place finish, but it only motivated him to step up his X’s prep level even more for 2009.
“Over the winter I decided to move the car from Street class to Limited/Modified class, knowing that the competition was going to be that much stiffer. With that in mind, we made a lot of changes to the car, mainly removing a ton of weight and upgrading the suspension to JRZ triple adjustable shocks along with some other AMS bits.” According to Ryan, the car now weighs in at an impressively svelte 2,750 lbs, thanks in part to the Seibon carbon-fiber doors, a dry carbon hood and trunk, and an AMS carbon-Kevlar roof. Ryan also spent a lot of time removing everything he legally could from the interior (for Limited/Mod class) in order to fully max out his X’s Jenny Craig–sized weight-loss regime.
For 2009, horsepower has also been bumped slightly north of 460 whp, thanks to the addition of an AMS test pipe, lightweight driveshaft and more fine-tuning from Chris on the dyno. But the biggest change this season is in the damper department, where Bryan from JRZ is helping Ryan learn to dial in his triple adjustable shocks for whatever circuit he’s racing at. And so far the ’09 season is off to a flying start for Ryan and his X, taking the Modified class victory at Redline’s time attack event at Buttonwillow in March with a very solid 1:55.221 lap time. If not for an ECU malfunction that was preventing all 32 psi of boost from being reached, who knows how fast Ryan’s X could have gone.
In the coming months, Ryan plans to install a roll bar as well as having AMS install one of its turbo kits for a reliable 500-plus whp and a Carbonetic triple carbon clutch to handle the extra power. “I’d really like to stress how well the stock 4B11T has held up so far, thanks to the careful tuning and high-quality bolt-ons AMS has provided. With more than 6,500 track miles, it’s been amazing and still runs like new and revs so smoothly. I’m glad my upgrade from the IX to the X has turned out so well and I’m happy to prove a lot of the EVO X haters wrong. Mitsu did an awesome job with this car, AMS has made it even better and it’s been incredibly reliable.” High praise from this young time attack protégé, but we fully expect Ryan and his finely tuned Mitsubishi to continue to back it up by leading the way in the Evolution X revolution.
AMS cold-air intake, FMIC and piping, titanium exhaust, fuel surge tank and A/C Delete kit; Walbro 255-lph fuel pump, RC 780cc fuel injectors, TiAL BOV, Forced Performance FP Red turbocharger, CBRD radiator
Specifications & Details
’08 Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X
2-liter 4B11T turbocharged inline-4
AMS ECU tune
Seibon carbon-fiber doors and dry carbon hood and trunk; AMS carbon-Kevlar roof, lightweight front bumper beam and rear spoiler wicker bill; JDM RS grilles
Wheels, Tires and Brakes
18x10.5 +15 Volk Racing CE28N and TE37 forged alloy wheels, 275/35ZR18 Nitto NT01 tires, Girodisc 2-piece rotors (f/r), AMS braided steel brake lines, custom brake ducting
JRZ triple adjustable shocks and camber plates; Whiteline 27mm adjustable rear antisway bar and roll center kit; AMS lightweight front crossmember, solid rear differential bushings, EVO X adjustable rear toe link with eccentric delete, and EVO X bumpsteer kit; corner weighted and aligned by Justin at AMS, Cusco (f/r) strut tower braces
AMS lightweight driveshaft, Carbonetic triple carbon clutch kit, Cusco 1.5-way rear LSD
460+ whp and 450+ wtq at 32 psi, 2,750-lb curb weight
BRIDE ZETA III racing seats, Takata 6-point racing harness, AEM UEGO wideband O2 gauge, Stri, AMS Delrin shift knob
AMS Performance, JRZ Suspension, Nitto, K&N, Carbonetic, Seibon, Girodisc, Forced Performance, Etnies, Darkside Engineering and Double Down Motorsports