Driving Flat Out In Project Nine
A Break In Routine

Project Nine is one of the more humble builds within the SH Garage, so much so that quite often its full capabilities are forgotten as it chugs along reliably through its mundane daily duties.

That is, until a good enough excuse comes along to break away from the sensible side of motoring that shatters the chains of the daily grind.

Good for the car, good for the driver.


And today’s excuse for blowing out excess cobwebs? This little experiment is all about quantifying the worth a new set of sway bars, links and a steering correction kit provided by Whiteline have made to my Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX.


In this update I’ll be looking at the final two rounds of the 2018/2019 Whiteline Tarmac Rallysprint series held at Sydney Dragway, the first of which I competed in with my Evo running its completely standard (and very aged) suspension.


In the second event, I competed with my Whiteline-enhanced Evo.


I chronicled the Whiteline upgrade in my most recent Project Nine update, so you should definitely take a look at that post if you’re interested in knowing the finer details of the parts list and the install process.

Boaty McBoatFace

I introduced the Whiteline Tarmac Rallysprint series in my last project post when I rode shotgun and played navigator in a mate’s Subaru WRX. The experience was so very different from circuit racing, and this first taste had me completely hooked.

I needed to come back for more, but this time I’d be behind the steering wheel of my own car.


From my pool of unwilling mates, it was poor old Christian who drew the co-driving short straw. I’m not sure if he’d concur, but this was good news from my perspective as Christian had spent plenty of time driving at speed. In fact, he took both nights off preparing his GC8 Subaru WRX for 2019’s WTAC Clubsprint class to tag along with me.

With the safety inspections and driving briefing out of the way, it was time to run a couple of sighting laps.


The Evo performed adequately for a daily driven street car. It wasn’t the fastest, nor the firmest or flattest through corners.


I was by told my friends who’d come to cheer me on (or to laugh at me if we binned the Evo) that in a couple of the fastest tight corners the car was up on three wheels, which would explain the soft doughy feeling at times.

Also, having so little weight over the inside front tyre would only be adding to the boat-like soft turn in and understeer.


Initially, I imagined that the short run times and much lower speeds than circuit racing would translate into a much more forgiving experience for the Evolution IX.

Perhaps it wasn’t as gruelling as a full day at the circuit, but damn it felt like our humble little project car was working overtime as we raced from sunset into the night.

Notice the spotlights on some of the other vehicles? As the night grew darker, my attitude quickly changed from ‘extra lights might be useful,’ to ‘f**k, we really need a set of those lights.’

Aiming at, then blasting relentlessly between small gaps in barriers that are almost invisible until it’s too late for drastic correction was a somewhat intense experience.


The same tight barricades are not the place for brake failure either. My original OEM setup had failed previously under less stress, so I’m almost certain the upgraded DBA 4000-series two-piece rotors and pads saved the front end towards the end of the stage as I came in a little hot – literally with the rotors aglow – while slipping through a narrow concrete fence.

But all in all, the car held it together and survived.

We placed around 40th out of 70 entries – not amazing, but certainly not bad for a photographer in a daily driven car who’s racing is usually restricted to making the pre-school drop off on time.

Still, there’s plenty of room for improvement, for both car and driver.

Heavy Rain

The whole point of this experiment was really trying to quantify the actual benefits delivered (if any) by the new Whiteline suspension components through a solid back-to-back comparison in the same environment and under the same stresses. So how did we do?

Same car plus mods? Check. Same location? Check. Same conditions? Well, not quite…

2019-03-14 - Whiteline Twilight Rallysprint 006

For the final event of the Whiteline series, the untameable elements decided to throw buckets and centimetres of rain at us. Sydney received an absolutely brutal lashing by some of the most severe thunderstorms, lightning and intense rain we’ve experienced for years.

In fact, there was so much lightning that the venue was unwilling to risk turning on the pit lighting due to fear of a strike.


Racing was postponed and the track was closed at least twice while organizers waited for the rivers and standing water across the track to flow away and ease to safer, more manageable levels.

2019-03-14 - Whiteline Twilight Rallysprint 002

In a way, not having the most powerful or dialled-in car helped our cause. While other drivers were forced to stop, our moderately modified Evolution was out-performing my expectations and really didn’t feel too much slower than our dry laps of the previous round.

We ended up placing around 25th out of 70 cars.

Comparing a video of the wet run to the previous dry event confirmed similar times for at least the first half of the course.

In hindsight, I think the lack of pit lane lighting was more of a hindrance to time than the rain, and there are no words that can accurately describe the intensity of racing essentially in pitch darkness. 1m30s is a pretty solid example.


Distances are harder to judge when they’re submerged in darkness, and for the most part I found myself relying on memory to point the car in the right direction.

Accurately determining the amount of room between bollards at maximum attack with nothing but shitty lights always felt like a gamble, and one with terrible odds.


This was easily one of the most intimidating experiences I’ve lived through, and that’s coming from a kid who grew up on the bad side of the railway line for most of his life.

2019-03-14 - Whiteline Twilight Rallysprint 003

But let’s focus on the differences in handling. Was it noticeable? Did it help? Was I happy? Yes, yes and yes.

2019-03-14 - Whiteline Twilight Rallysprint 004

Having half a week before letting loose on the track, I took the Evo to a private skidpan with the intention of leaning on the car hard enough through corners to lose it intentionally in a safe environment.

Ultimately, I ran of real estate to safely continue increasing speed – Project Nine was rock solid.


While the heavy rain may have had a negative effect on sprint times, the slippery conditions highlighted the car’s enhanced handling abilities. Primarily, maintaining four wheels of contact rather than three during aggressive cornering.

2019-03-14 - Whiteline Twilight Rallysprint 018

The additional grip and chassis rigidity made the car feel a lot of more stable, planted and predictable than with the tired factory setup.

I’d steer, it would respond. Over the course of the night and event through ever-worsening conditions, the level of trust continued to grow.


As for side effects or negative ride impact, the car feels essentially the same. Being that the height and core springs/dampers weren’t replaced, the Evo’s compliance over bumps remains unchanged.

Really, to notice any improvements one needs to be driving at speed.

The testing, of course, included being put through the paces at the tarmac rallysprint, but the car also gets tested daily during the grind of both family and work duties.

Whiteline’s under car package has undergone some rigorous testing and has ticked off another aspect of Project Nine’s original goals of adding performance without introducing massive compromises to comfort or reliability.

I’m not sure where to turn my attention and spanners to next. I’m tossing up between either continuing the suspension with refreshing or replacing the ageing standard Bilstein shocks, or spending some time tidying up a few minor annoyances under the hood.

Let me know what you’d focus on in the comments below.

Matthew Everingham
Instagram: matthew_everingham

Additional Photography by Dave Oliver and Sam Law

The SH Garage on Speedhunters

A Rally Big Gallery

Round 6

2019-03-14 - Whiteline Twilight Rallysprint 008
2019-03-14 - Whiteline Twilight Rallysprint 027
2019-03-14 - Whiteline Twilight Rallysprint 007


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Yes! Finally an update of Project Nine. Nice coffee and reading about your car makes the day right. after an early morning run of my SR20.

Matthew Everingham

Living the dream.


Love reading about Project Nine! Awesome photos too :)


A set of MCA coilovers would be my next step if it was my car. Could even turn it into a workshop visit (I can't remember if SH has visited MCA HQ). But you're obviously free to do whatever you like.


Good way to promote an aussie brand to the world


Definitely go for handling over power. I did it with all my cars, first suspension, brakes and tyres. Add power later on in the process.

Matthew Everingham

Suspension feels pretty solid right now, I wouldn't mind dropping an inch though. Time to flip a coin and pick a new area to improve.


Looks like such a mad event! Photos came out really good, especially the rain ones!

As for next mod to focus on, I'd personally go coils to get the most out of the car. What were you thinking of doing under the hood?


I had a set of Whiteline ARB's on my old 200sx - worked a treat for stability.

Any more info on that Martini-liveried '3? Older Evo's are so rare now. In the 5 years I've had my '2, I've not seen another on the road in the UK.

Matthew Everingham

None at this stage but I'll drum up a conversation if I see it in the pits.


who's the girl that keeps showing the middle finger....

Matthew Everingham

Miss Maisie Place. Rotor mechanic, decent driver and apparently somebody who enjoys flipping me off at every opportunity.


It's a shame you missed it when we were there. My brother in law's Golf R blew up the morning of the event, so I put the diff back in my $1200 SS Commodore, did a test burnout, stickered it, drove to the event and did drift runs for the night. Probably the most fun in a car I've ever had.

Matthew Everingham

Nice! Will keep an eye out at future events for low-traction Commodores. :p


Awesome project, great to read updates about it. here is my suggestion: Improve the safety components (you already started with the chassis), add a dash of reliability (cooling, lubrication, wiring, those cam sensors are very sensitive), and then, if you feel like it, extract some of that 4G63T potential. Whatever you chose to do next, we'll keep reading the updates. Godspeed.

Matthew Everingham

Thanks for throwing some sensible ideas into the mix!


Exceptional content and images, Matthew; I'm your fan. I would really focus on reviewing the suspension before anything else. I think the Evolution originally is already a very fun car, and it's just something like greater boost to improve the feeling.


And that is how you enjoy a car!

In my 14 year long quest to similarly enjoy my GD WRX, I learned that control>power. I would suggest researching on some better engine/transmission mounts as well as differential mounts and sub-frame bushings if available for the Evo. Chassis reinforcement braces also do wonders for corner carving projects. Something that I found to make a world of difference are Spoon Sports' rigid collars that are available for almost any car out there...

And some had already mentioned the rest of the basics: coilovers, tires and a bigger radiator.


Personally Id upgrade the bulbs in the headlights and maybe some additional lights in the bumper or the bonnet.


those DBA 4000 brakes are nice, i wish they fit my project.


if you want better light, get silverstars, you need a brighter, whiter light instead of an orange 3500k bulb like the stock lancer has. dont blow your money on lights just get really bright hallogens.


I'd say work on that suspension a bit more. Get that thing planted through the corners.
Also you getting the bird made me laugh.
……..(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
……….”…\………. _.·´

Lorenzo Miguel B. Navarro

Should I suggest to increase the horsepower a little bit? How much hp is in the car? I like it of its ample for racing and daily driving.

Matthew Everingham

As a guess, I'd say 210kw at all four wheels on a good day.


Good Job Man...Personally Id upgrade the bulbs in the headlights and maybe some additional lights in the bumper or the bonnet.

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All of the cars here are just amazing especially that i30N which just gave me a bunch of ideas
And you need some extra lights for Project Nine that would be pretty cool


Alot of evo owner do not upgrade the front sway bar as it can induce more understeer.

I added some underbracing and offset castor bushes which helped dial out understeer in my old evo

Matthew Everingham

I noticed the opposite during my session on the thrashpad. The nose just kept on turning in reliably.


Planning on running any in the 19/20 season? I ran the final event in belting rain and am looking forward to this season to see what mine will do in the dry!