Subaru Driver David Higgins Defends Title with Dominating Win at the 2012 Sno*Drift Rally

CHERRY HILL, N.J., Jan. 30, 2012 -- Subaru of America, Inc. Defending 2011 Rally America National Champion David Higgins launched his 2012 title defense with Subaru Rally Team USA by achieving a decisive victory this past weekend at the Sno*Drift Rally. Higgins, driving a 5-door 2012 Subaru WRX STI rally car, dominated the rally leading from the start and winning 15 of the event's 24 competitive stages. Higgins finished nearly two minutes clear of his closest rival. The Sno*Drift was not easy by any respect; David's biggest challenge was keeping his STI on the event's treacherously icy roads. Higgins proclaimed the variable and slick road conditions as the toughest rallying he has ever encountered.

The Sno*Drift Rally, round one of the six-event 2012 Rally America National Championship, challenged nearly 70 top rally teams with over 130 miles of snow and ice-covered roads in northern Michigan. Constant changes in weather and road conditions coupled with several stages run in total darkness make this rally notoriously challenging. Drivers will attest that the biggest challenge of the rally is that spiked or studded tires are not allowed, making traction extremely elusive when conditions are icy. Drivers this year were greeted with exactly that; a recent thaw and subsequent freeze turned many of the stage roads into sheets of smooth ice.

Higgins and his co-driver Craig Drew were up for the challenge from the onset and all but sealed their victory with a commanding performance on the first loop of stages where Higgins posted several blisteringly fast stage times while his rivals struggled with the icy conditions. After winning the opening four stages, Higgins had amassed a nearly two-minute lead on his rivals before the first service halt. However, maintaining that lead on the treacherously ice-covered roads was one of the biggest challenges the veteran rally pro Higgins has ever tackled.

"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," explained Higgins. "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."

The lead Higgins had amassed on the opening day of competition was only briefly under threat for the first loop of stages on the morning of day-two. Higgins, running on ice tires, encountered fresh snow on the stages allowing his chief rival Antoine L'Estage, who had chosen a snow tire, to claw back some time. After switching to snow tires at the first service, Higgins responded to the threat and won five straight stages to regain nearly all of the time lost in the morning while sealing his victory.

"This was a great victory and a strong result to start our title defense," explained Higgins. "Our Subaru was perfect all weekend and allowed Craig [Drew] and I to just concentrate on the job under these wild conditions."

Added James Han, motorsports marketing manager for Subaru of America, Inc., "David and Craig drove prudently to a tremendous result, and Subaru Rally Team USA prepared a car in our 2012 Subaru WRX STI that has proven to be the class of the field this weekend. Having to constantly assess traction levels under such difficult road conditions within the context of competition driving rapidly takes a mental toll, and our #75 driver pairing truly rose to the occasion and ultimately prevailed."

Higgins and Subaru Rally Team USA head next to the high-speed gravel roads of The Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, Feb 24-25, in central Missouri.

Video recap of the weekend's events: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVFkGp0e35Q

About Subaru Rally Team USA


Subaru Rally Team USA is proudly supported by Subaru of America, Inc., Subaru Tecnica International (STI), Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT), BFGoodrich Tires, RECARO, PIAA, Motul, VP Fuels, and Vermont SportsCar. 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.

Subaru to Continue Offering the Most Lucrative Rally Contingency Program in North America

CHERRY HILL, N.J., Jan. 23, 2012 -- Subaru of America, Inc. announced today the continuation of their contingency program, the Subaru Rally Support Program, for the 2012 Rally America National Championship. The Subaru Rally Support Program is managed by Subaru of America Inc., partner Vermont SportsCar and continues to be the most lucrative contingency program in North American rallying, with over $20,000 available at each Rally America National Championship event for Subaru drivers to earn. The program focuses support on the popular Super Production class (SP) within the Rally America National Championship where the top finishing eligible Subaru SP driver will earn $7,000 at each round while second through 10th placed SP drivers receiving generous payouts as well.

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The Super Production (SP) class was created in 2009 by Rally America to offer an enticing compromise between the top-tier Open class and the more restrictive Production GT (PGT) class. The SP class provides a means for cost-effective competition for Subaru models such as the WRX and WRX STI to compete not only head-to-head with but also be capable of challenging the top of the leader board at any Rally America National Championship event.

SP class driver Travis Hanson drove this point home with an impressive 2011 season at the wheel of his SP class Subaru WRX STI becoming the first SP class driver to win a national rally outright (2011 Sno*Drift Rally) and leading the championship points standings for nearly half the season.  Hanson went on to finish third overall in the season standings after consistently battling the top Open class cars on each round. 

One of the key attractions of the SP class for Subaru drivers is the allowance of several key modifications to Subaru WRX and WRX STI model rally cars to make them more affordable and competitive to prepare and run as compared to meeting compliance for the PGT class. This includes but is not limited to: allowing vehicles to be updated or backdated within a body style of the model, fitting of hydraulic handbrakes, and granting broader brake system modifications. The SP class also features a larger 34mm turbo inlet restrictor versus the 32mm in the PGT class.

"Subaru as a brand, and our WRX and WRX STI models in particular, are widely recognized as having rally-DNA and being associated with performance and rallying in general," said James Han, motorsports marketing manager for Subaru of America, Inc. "By announcing a continuation in the [Subaru] Rally Support Program, Subaru reaffirms our commitment to privateer entrants campaigning our products in Rally America events and to the growth of rally in the United States."

In addition to this continued support to SP class participants at Rally America National Championship events Subaru of America Inc. will also offer a $200 'start fund' to any eligible Subaru entered in a Rally America Regional rally that runs concurrent to a national event weekend.

**Eligibility rules apply. Please read complete program rules and regulations here: http://vtcar.com/rally/subaru-contingency-program/

For more information about the Rally America Super Production class please refer to the Rally America rule book and rule bulletins found at http://rally-america.com/rules.php.

About Subaru Rally Team USA


Subaru Rally Team USA is proudly supported by Subaru of America, Inc., Subaru Tecnica International (STI), Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT), BFGoodrich Tires, RECARO, PIAA, Motul, VP Fuels, and Vermont SportsCar. 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.

David Higgins to Defend Rally America Crown With Subaru Rally Team USA in 2012 Championship

CHERRY HILL, N.J., Jan. 18, 2012 -- Subaru of America, Inc. Subaru Rally Team USA (SRT USA) announced today that David Higgins, the 2011 Rally America National Champion will continue as factory driver for the team in 2012 in a bid to defend his title. Higgins and SRT USA begin the 2012 Rally America National Championship at the season opener Sno*Drift Rally in northern Michigan, Jan. 27 and 28 against a stacked field of over 70 entries. Co-driver Craig Drew will once again join Higgins; the duo will pilot a Vermont SportsCar-prepared 2012 Subaru WRX STI in all six rounds of the 2012 Rally America National Championship. 

X Games icon Dave Mirra, Higgins' Subaru teammate in 2011, is expected to continue to drive for Subaru but will focus on the Global RallyCross Championship, because of several conflicting dates with the Rally America Championship event calendar. An announcement about the team's rallycross plans will be made in the near future.

Higgins joined Subaru Rally Team USA at the start of the 2011 season, and had an impressive year at the wheel of his Subaru WRX STI, earning three victories and two-second overall finishes in the six-event 2011 Rally America National Championship; as well as claiming victory and a new record at the famed Mt. Washington Hillclimb. The 2011 Rally America driver's title was the third for Higgins in the USA having won the SCCA ProRally Championship in 2002 and 2003. Higgins also won the British Rally Championship in 2004 after winning the Group N title in the British Rally Championship in 1997, 1999, and 2002. As a testament of his passion for the sport, Higgins and his family also operate a UK-based training facility, The Forest Experience Rally School. Higgins was born on the Isle of Man but resides in Wales with his wife and two children.

"I'm excited to defend my title with Subaru as we have made some great progress in the development of our STI rally car in the off-season, and so the confidence is high right now," explained Higgins. "The Rally America Championship is a fantastic series with a great mix of events and conditions coupled with a very high level of competition.  I expect 2012 to be a big fight but we have the right car and the right team, so I'm really looking forward to it!"

"Subaru Rally Team USA is kicking off the 2012 season with aggressive goals in place while maintaining a dedicated approach towards defending our Rally America title and contending for the Global RallyCross Championship," indicated James Han, motorsports marketing manager for Subaru of America, Inc. "I'm encouraged to have the 2012 Subaru WRX STI serve as our technical backdrop and renew our ongoing partnership with Vermont SportsCar. Sno*Drift [Rally] will be a great measure of our current level of preparedness against what looks to be a healthy entry list."

About Subaru Rally Team USA


Subaru Rally Team USA is proudly supported by Subaru of America, Inc., Subaru Tecnica International (STI), Subaru Performance Tuning (SPT), BFGoodrich Tires, RECARO, PIAA, Motul, VP Fuels, and Vermont SportsCar. 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.

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