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Salem, MO Feb. 24, 2012 – Subaru of America, Inc. Subaru Rally Team USA driver David Higgins, the defending Rally America National Champion, has significantly extended his 2012 championship points lead with a second place finish at The Rally in the 100 Acre Wood. Higgins' two primary season-long rivals failed to finish the event thus providing even more impact to Higgins' second place points-haul. The Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, round two of the 2012 Rally America National Championship included over 100 miles of extremely fast and flowing gravel roads that traversed the foothills of Missouri's Ozark Mountains. Higgins, joined by co-driver Craig Drew, competed in a BFGoodrich Tires-shod 2012 Subaru WRX STI rally car.
Higgins began the event with a three-way duel with Antoine L'Estage, his archrival in the Rally America Championship, and Ken Block, a five-time winner of the 100 Acre Wood Rally. The trio was separated by just seconds after running the first three stages when L'Estage exited the rally with a mechanical problem, leaving just Block and Higgins in a fierce battle at the front of the field. Dry conditions meant this year's edition of the 100 Acre Wood Rally was an extremely dusty affair, and Higgins was slowed considerably by hanging dust as the winds dissipated on the evening stages. Higgins ended the first day of competition 18 seconds adrift of Block.
With Higgins' chief championship rival L'Estage out of the event and mindful that Block is not committed to running the full Rally America Championship, Higgins took the measured approach to find a balance between catching Block and driving prudently enough to ensure a solid finish which would net valuable championship points towards retaining the title. Higgins capitalized on a tire puncture that Block suffered on day-two and was able to close the gap to briefly take over the lead. The rival drivers were separated by just over 12 seconds heading into the final two evening stages of the rally. A final push by Higgins wasn't possible though, as Higgins, running behind Block on the road, encountered Block's hanging dust and was forced to slow considerably and eventually accepted a solid second place overall finish.
"The pace here was just amazing," explained Higgins. "It was a great battle and ultimately I'd like to have been able to win but Ken [Block] is very fast here, and it simply became a matter of safety to push too much in the dust. However, this result is huge for our championship defense since Antoine [L'Estage] and Leo [Urlichich] didn't finish. We now have a very good cushion atop the standings and our Subaru will excel on the more technical gravel roads in the upcoming events."
Added James Han, motorsports marketing manager for Subaru of America, Inc., "David and [co-driver] Craig [Drew] confirmed the pace capable from our Subaru WRX STI and drove a smart rally to consolidate our championship points position under very challenging driving conditions. Both David and Ken [Block] put on an incredible performance for spectators this weekend."
Higgins and Subaru Rally Team USA head next to the Oregon Trail Rally, May 4-6, 2012 based in Portland, Oregon.
About Subaru Rally Team USA
Subaru Rally Team USA is managed by Vermont SportsCar and proudly supported by Subaru of America, Inc., Subaru Tecnica International (STI), Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT), BFGoodrich Tires, RECARO, PIAA, Motul, and VP Racing Fuels. For more information on Subaru Rally Team USA, as well as exclusive photo and video galleries, visit subaru.com/rally and for the latest news follow the team on Twitter: twitter.com/srtusa.
Salem, MO Feb. 24, 2012 -- Subaru of America, Inc. Subaru Rally Team USA driver and defending Rally America National Champion David Higgins is full of confidence ahead of this weekend’s Rally in the 100-Acre Wood, round two of the 2012 Rally America National Championship, after completing two days of gravel testing this week at the wheel of his #75 Subaru WRX STI. Higgins, from the Isle of Man, is ready to battle nearly 70 top rally teams on over 100 miles of fast yet technical gravel roads that twist through central Missouri's majestic Ozark foothills.
After an impressive victory last month in the snow and ice at the opening round of the Rally America series, the Sno*Drift rally, Higgins and his co-driver Craig Drew will be going for the win in Missouri this weekend to further extend their championship points lead. The two-day Rally in the 100-Acre Wood is based in Salem, Missouri and the competitive stages will take place Feb. 24-25.
"The feeling with our Subaru is very good," explained Higgins. "During testing this week we made some great progress and found some speed on the faster sections, which will be crucial at this event. Our goal is always to win, but I'm mindful that we are looking at the big picture and need to secure championship points first and foremost."
The competition will be fierce at the 100-Acre Wood Rally with entries from multi-time Polish Rally Champion Krzysztof Holowczyc, former Subaru Rally Team USA driver Ken Block who is a five-time winner of the event, as well as Higgins' perennial challenger Antoine L'Estage, the 2011 Canadian Rally Champion.
The Rally in the 100-Acre Wood will begin at 12:00pm on Friday, Feb. 24, with a Parc Expose followed by 45 miles of competitive stages. The action begins again on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 25 with a further 66 miles of stages. Fans can catch live event video streaming and video recaps, as well as regularly updated stage times, and results at Rally-America.com, and team photo and video updates at Subaru.com/rally.