Rally America’s defending champion David Higgins scored a win for Subaru Rally Team USA at last weekend's Sno*Drift rally, the season’s opening event. Together with co-driver Craig Drew, Higgins established a dominating early lead, which the team was able to maintain throughout the rally as they navigated the harsh ice- and snow-covered roads of northern Michigan.
As round one of the 2012 Rally America National Championship’s six-race calendar, Sno*Drift attracted nearly 70 top teams aiming to conquer the more-than-130 miles of brutal road conditions the rally has to offer. In addition to contending with Michigan’s weather, teams must do it without using spiked or studded tires, and must also run several stages in complete darkness – all factors that make this rally one of the most challenging of the season.
Piloting a five-door 2012 Subaru WRX STI rally car, Higgins won 15 of the rally’s 24 competitive stages. According to Subaru, Higgins was met with little trouble throughout the event, with the only major incident occurring on day-two when the team prematurely switched from snow tires to ice tires. This miscalculation allowed for Higgins’ closest rival, Antoine L’Estage, to gain slightly on the lead car. But Higgins was able to make up for lost time in the next few stages, racking up five consecutive wins. In the end, Higgins and company finished nearly two minutes ahead of the competition. Though Higgins took the win by a substantial margin, he says the rally did indeed put him and the car to the test.
“The icy roads combined with lack of spiked tires makes this one of the toughest rallies and a challenge I think that is unique in rallying anywhere in the world,” Higgins said in a release. “Mentally, it’s very draining as you are constantly on the edge all weekend with the knowledge that any small mistake could just end the rally. The grip levels would go from variable to non-existent in a flash.”
Rally America heads next to the gravel roads of central Missouri for The Rally in the 100 Acre Wood on February 24-25.