Subaru Rally Team USA's David Higgins and Craig Drew have won the 2011 Susquehannock Trail Rally after an unbelievably tense final day of racing. Higgins and Drew started the day fourteen seconds down and steadily regained lost ground, edging into the lead by five seconds at the end of Stage 7. On the following stage, disaster struck when the in-car intercom system stopped working. At the same time, a sudden rain storm turned the surface from hard gravel to a fine mud that seemed slick as ice. The team struggled to keep up speed through the stage, with Craig using hand signals to indicate crucial stage notes while David combatted limited visibility and treacherous road conditions. This stage alone cost the duo thirty seconds and dropped them back down to second place. On the following stage the intercom issue had been resolved, but a puncture heaped another ten seconds onto their deficit. Over the course of the next four stages, David and Craig piloted the #75 WRX STI flawlessly and regained all of their lost time, heading into the final stage of the night with an incredibly slim 2.5 second lead overall.
Hundreds of fans packed into the Tioga County Fairgrounds to watch the final challenge, a one-mile-long Super Special Stage run in reverse starting order. David Higgins and Craig Drew were second-to-last to start the stage. They ran an amazing stage, set the fastest time yet, and sent the crowd into uproarious cheering when they hit the jump at full speed. Last up were Antoine L'Estage and Nathalie Richard, who faced the seemingly impossible feat of beating David and Craig by 2.5 seconds on that very short stage. L'Estage and Richard were fast. There was a tangible sense of anticipation in the air and the announcer refused to disclose the result until the cars had lined up for the podium. Subaru Rally Team USA's David Higgins and Craig Drew positioned the #75 WRX STI in the center of the podium—they had won the event! While Antoine and Nathalie had been 1.3 seconds faster on the final stage, David and Craig had won the event by 1.2 seconds.
"I've never wanted to win another rally more," said Higgins when interviewed at the podium. Not only have he and Craig shown incredible resolve in battling back to victory, the 2011 Subaru WRX STI prepared by Vermont SportsCar has proved to be an indomitable rally machine with the ability to unleash unbelievable performance when needed.
In SRT USA's car #40, Dave Mirra and Marshall Clarke also had a challenging rally. They damaged the car on Stage 7, but were able to drive to service where Subaru Rally Team USA technicians made the necessary repairs to get it back on the road. Dave and Marshall had lost significant time but they went back out and battled heavy rains and slick surfaces on some of the fastest roads of the circuit. Knowing the podium was out of reach, they focused on experimenting with different car setups in varying conditions, testing how to maximize the performance of their 2011 Subaru rally car. The #40 WRX STI performed flawlessly and powered them to a fifth-place overall finish.
The 2011 Rally America National Championship concludes next month at the New England Forest Rally in Bethel, Maine. The points earned by Subaru Rally Team USA's #75, David Higgins and Craig Drew, at STPR this weekend further extend their lead in the championship standings, with only one event sitting between them and the title.