Subaru Rally Team USA's David Higgins and Craig Drew have won Sno*Drift, the first round of the 2012 Rally America National Championship. Though their 2012 Subaru WRX STI performed flawlessly and they walked away with a massive lead of 1 minute 48 seconds, the victory was not won without a fight. Although Friday's conditions were somewhat disappointing for a winter rally, Sno*Drift earned its moniker with a substantial dumping of powder early Saturday morning.
The lead with which Higgins and Drew started Day 2 was quickly diminished by an unfortunate tire choice. Expecting prominent ice, the team chose a dense, tractionized tire which was less suited to pushing through heavy snow. First on the road, SRT USA #75 lost nearly two seconds per mile trying to clear the accumulated precipitation. At the first service in Atlanta, David and Craig were ahead by under a minute. After switching to a tread pattern more appropriate for the conditions, the team went back out and got every bit of their lead back.
Aside from the easily rectified issue of tire selection, SRT USA's #75 passed the day with only one hiccup. They had a massive incident on SS16, the longest stage of the day. Coming into a turn at 60 miles per hour, the duo hit a patch of sheet ice and slid sideways toward a tree-studded bank. Powerless to do anything else, they just rode the bank and were lucky enough to stay out of the trees.
"The completely unpredictable surface conditions and our lack of experience in winter rallying made for a huge challenge," said Higgins after the race, "but I feel, after this, we've proved ourselves in the snow." This decisive win has given SRT USA the initial points lead in the 2012 Rally America National Championship. The series continues next month in Salem, Missouri at the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, where extremely fast and forgiving roads make for an all-or-nothing battle of wits as drivers push their cars and themselves to the limit.