Automotive

Caution Frequently Sideways

MRT Performance head honcho Brett Middleton is an engineer and 20-year veteran of competitive motorsport – “My father was always involved and it grew from there”.

Brett started rallying in a Datsun 1600, which he turbocharged when others were tinkering with big-capacity, naturally aspirated engines. He progressed to turbocharged Nissans and Daihatsu Characles, and he eventually became back-to-back ARC Formula 2 Champion (1993 and 1994) in the Daihatsu-backed and MRT-prepped 1600cc Charade DeTomaso.

In 1997, the team took out the F2 category again, this time in a 1600cc Honda Civic VTi-R. In the process, it became the first Australian rally team to win the Formula 2 Championship three times.¬†After the success in Formula 2, Brett made the leap to Group A with MRT’s current beast-a 1998 Subaru lmpreza WRX STi version 4. The vehicle was originally built by STi Japan for Toshihiro Arai to compete in the 1998 API Rally Australia.

The rally-ready Rex was purchased by Subaru Australia and taken over by Possum Bourne Motorsport. Here Cody crocker, who won the ARC Group N Championship in 1999, pedalled it. The Middleton Rally Team has since updated the WRX to STi Version 5 and Group A specs.

In his very first year (2000) piloting the MRT lmpreza, Brett finished third in Class PS behind the WRC cars of Neal Bates and the late Possum Bourne. Another team highlight is finishing first outright in the 2003 Bega Valley Motors Rally.

The Middleton Racing Team’s philosophy has meant its sideways success on gravel, dirt and tarmac has been the basis for its achievements in the business world. “The aim of MRT Performance is to provide quality service to car owners,” Brett said. “We otter reliable enhancements that ensure clients enjoy their car ownership.”

MRT Performance established its customer car division in 1995/96 on the back of scoring a contract with Daihatsu. In 1994, the Japanese carmaker commissioned Brett and his crew to homologate, develop and build the then-new F2 Charade DeTomaso Group A rally car.

The company still deals in Daihatsu parts, but its switch to rallying WRXs has seen it become the premier Subaru specialist in Australia. “My mates at the time were rallying, and they had no one to look after their Subarus or get parts,” Brett said. “Through my rally connections, we trained up and started work on Subarus. We were the very first genuine specialists. A lot of people say they’re WRX specialists, but we’ve been doing it since no one wanted to know about them.”

For all its high-performance activities, MRT Performance still carries out standard car servicing. “These days, typical customers don’t want to go to a number of different places. They’d prefer to go to one workshop with their budget and get their mods done,” Brett explained. ‘That way, they get the best value.”

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