Monday, May 7, 2012

Higgins wins Oregon Trail Rally

Subaru Rally Team USA's David Higgins and Craig Drew won 12 stages out of 16 to win the Oregon Trail Rally. Higgins took his fourth victory and holds the most OTR wins in the event's history.

Subaru Rally Team USA's David Higgins and
Craig Drew / credit: Aaron Kathman
Higgins never trailed in the rally even when he shot off the road at high speed and bent his rear control arms. The team managed to finish the stage and hobbled to the service for repairs.

"I thought I was done for when I went off," Higgins said, "But my team got me back on the road. I couldn't have done it without them. I 'm so proud to win four Oregon Trail Rallies. I'm getting up there with Ken Block in wins at single events!"

Notably, Higgins' closest rival, the Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team's Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard, needed to bounce back from a DNF suffered at Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, the second round of the Rally American National Championship, in February.

At the Oregon Trail Rally, the team dogged Higgins until a few turns into stage 7 when the car stopped. L'Estage and Richard were unable to continue but a second DNF severely complicated their chances for another Rally America title.

The overall podium and class podiums were graced by many new Rally America drivers and teams.

Canadian Rally Championship regular, Leonid Urlichlich with Carl Williamson drove their 2007 Subaru STI to second place overall for his first American podium finish 4:25.9 minutes behind Higgins.

2011 Rally America Rookie of the Year Adam Yeoman with co-driver Jordan Shulze proudly stepped up to the overall podium by finishing third for the first time in his Rally America career. He finished 10:20.2 minutes behind Higgins.

The Super Production (SP) Class was won by Belgium Group N Champ, David Sterckx with co-driver Karen Jankowski, for their first SP podium in just three U.S. events. Sterckx edged local Hood River driver, Dave Henderson with Terrence McDowell, by 30.9 seconds. This was Henderson's first 2nd place podium in his SP Class car. Chris and Lori O'Driscoll rounded out the SP Class podium finishing 7 minutes 52 seconds from the class leader.

In their first American competition, Australians Will Orders and Toni Feaver battled furiously to win the Two-Wheel-Drive (2WD) Class by 1:44.3 over 2WD regulars Andrew Comrie-Picard and Jeremy Wimpey. It was a close competition between Orders and Comrie-Picard until the longer, faster stages on Day 3 gave the Nissan-driving Australians an advantage.

"It's amazing. The Nissan was so fast out here and the roads were incredible," Orders said. "I can't wait for the next round at the STPR Rally."

Edward McNelly and Ole Holter bounced back after a rollover in Missouri last February to complete the 2WD podium in their 2011 Ford Fiesta R2 and their first podium this season.

The 2WD class is proving to be highly competitive during this year's Rally America National Championship. Will Orders finished fourth overall and Andrew Comrie-Picard took fifth overall, beating the more powerful four-wheel-drive machines in the process. Adam Yeoman was the only American-born driver in the top five joined by a Manxman, Australian and two Canadians.

The Oregon Trail Rally, the third round of the Rally America National Championship, was once again a notoriously tough three-day event that began at Portland International Raceway for a fan-friendly, four-stage night. The event moved to the fast, sweeping farmland and roads near The Dalles and Dufur, situated under Mt. Hood for Saturday and Sunday.

All three days of the Oregon Trail Rally were broadcast online at covering parc exposes, service areas and multiple stages for fans not able to attend the event in person.

Get full results, including individual stage times, as well as OTR photos and video on Rally America's website.