Saturday, March 2, 2013

David Higgins and his Subaru Rally Team take Victory at Rally in the 100 Acre Woods

David Higgins and Creg Drew take the clean line through the challenging conditions on day-two on their way to their first overall victory at Rally In the 100AW. Photo: Neil McDaid
Salem, Mo; David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew finally addRally in The 100 AW to their long list of rally victories, Higgins had beenheld at bay in the past two years by both Antoine L’Estage and Ken Block, buton this occasion he was the last man standing.

We had expected round two of the 2013 Rally AmericaChampionship to be an epic battle from the get go, but as we reported on dayone, the battle off the front would quickly unravel with the departure ofAntoine L’Estage with engine troubles and Ken Block’s off stage excursion onss6.

Joseph Burke continues to shine as a contender in the U.S. Rally scene, Burke would also battle through the challenging conditions at this years rally to grab second overall in his Mitsubishi  behind Higgins. Photo: Neil McDaid
Day one was apparently not a trouble free day for TeamSubaru either as they would opt to change the engine in Higgins car at the overnightservice. David’s crew would work late into the night to make the swap and havethe STI ready for battle on day-two. The crew from Hoonigan Racing Team wouldalso burn the midnight oil making repairs to Block’s car after his drive aroundthe farmyard, Block also planned to return on day-two under the super rallyrule in hopes of grabbing a few championship  points.

Holding the overall lead heading into day-two, Higgins andDrew would now set off first on the road and would be faced with the unknown stageconditions as the rally moved to southeast of Salem.  With his insane speed factor Block would slotin behind Higgins, although Block and Gelsomino were now down to 9th overall.
Into the night, Tim O'Neil made a return to competitive stage rally this past weekend, Tim and co-driver Terry Hanson would place third overall in 2wd in their Ford Fiesta R2. Photo Neil McDaid
Block would attack hard off the line on the opening stage ofday 2, “Asbridge Hollow” he would better Higgins by 10 seconds over the 4.31mile test. Conditions on the opening stages on day two were little changed fromday one, mostly covered in snow with random icy patches, but the brown gravelof 100aw was starting to show through.

Despite having a comfortable lead and barring no majorissues, Higgins could had drove down the middle of the road to the podium, butHiggins was not going to let Block have it all his own way. David would chargeback taking the stage victory over Block on the second test of the day “LoopSouthern Short” a 8.34 mile technical stage with several creek crossings thrownin for good measure.
The Ford Fiesta Movement continues to grow on the U.S. rally scene, "Fast Eddie" McNally pictured here on SS9 grabbed 2nd overall in 2WD. Photo Neil McDaid

 Joseph Burke who was now laying second overall to Higginswas starting to have some teething issues with his newly rebuilt Mitsubishi andlost some of his margin on the opening stages.

Ken Blocks rein on Rally in the 100aw woods would finallycome to an end on SS10 “Scotia South” we would hear on the rally communicationnet that car #43 was stopped near the end of stage 10, both driver andco-driver were out of the car and the OK sign was displayed. We would learnlater that Ken and Alex retired due to lack of throttle, with the fly by wiresystem, gone are the days of the co-driver handing out from under the hoodwhile working the carbs as cars scrambled back to service.
Well it was not to be win #7 for Block, this Rally that Ken  describes  as his favorite rally in the world would through down an extra twist this year with some nasty snow and ice. After his off on SS6, Block was back on the attack early on day two before retiring again on SS10. Photo Neil McDaid

With Block sidelined and a buffer of over five minutes onBurke after 10 stages, David Higgins would set his sights on driving safely tothe podium, but as a precaution his Subaru Mechanics would swap out the gearboxin Higgins car, at the midpoint service. Although Higgins basically wentunchallenged throughout day two, he would still have to drive clean on the verychallenged conditions, “This is one rally we haven’t won before and to win itnow is a great feeling especially the way things happened,” said Higgins, “Ourvictory appeared not to be close, but giving the difficulty of the rally andthe conditions that margin could have disappeared in an instant.” said a veryrelieved David Higgins as he took to his first overall podium at Rally 100AW.
Yes we will take second!! Joseph Burke [second from right] and Alex Kilhurani [4th from right] celebrate the overall podium finish with the crew from JRD Motorsports. Photo Neil McDaid 

JRD Motorsports who built and run the Mitsubishi for JosephBurke were also able to get to the bottom of Burkes boost issues that slowedhis pace on the earlier stages. Joseph and co driver Alex Kihurani wouldmaintain their pace on the final night stages to hold onto their second place overallpodium position.  Laughlin O’ Sullivanand Scott Putnam would grab third overall.

With Higgins victory at 100aw, David and his Subaru team notmove to the number one  position in the 2013Rally America Championship points race. With Antoine L’Estage’s DNF at 100aw henow slides to second. Although teams have only completed two of the sevenrounds of the championship, Blocks title hopes are already slipping with hisDNF in Missouri he is now in 9th place.  
Laughlin O’Sullivan would also grab the overall victory in the Super Production class in his newly built Lucas Oil Sponsored Subaru, but it was not without a tight battle on day two. O’Sullivan was felling the heat from David Strerckx and Karen Jankowski through mid-day, unfortunately David’s Subaru would lose boost on the closing stages and he would drop to third in SP class, moving Evan Cline to second in Class.

[ACP] Andrew Comrie-Picard is off to a flying start in the2013 2WD Championship, ACP would follow up to his Sno*Drift victory with yetanother 2wd victory at 100aw. ACP’s nearest rival Dillon Van Way was caught outby the conditions early on the day two, Van Way slid off the stage and into afew large tree stumps. Although Van Way and co driver Andrew Edwards were notinjured their Ford Fiesta was too damaged to continue. ACP’s Scion Racing XDwas flanked on the podium by a pair of Ford Racing /Team O’Neil Fiestas. “FastEddie” McNally would grab second behind ACP, and a spirited drive from Tim O’Neil in the closing stages netted him the third and final spot on the podium.

Know to some as ‘Thetiny Swedish bomb”, the unmistakable noise of Jeff Keller’s 1963 three cylinder,two stroke Saab coming buzzing down the stage flat to the mat was reminder of amuch of a great bygone day. Photo Neil McDaid   
The Rally America calendar takes a few months off before crewsstart heading for the Great North West for the Oregon Trail Rally on May 3rdthrough the 5th.