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Portland, Or., May 7, 2012 - The storyline and the results of the 2012 Oregon Trail Rally mimicked the 2011 edition of the event with Subaru Rally Team USA's David Higgins again leading from the start and pulling away for victory. The win, his fourth Oregon Trail Rally career victory, vaults Higgins even farther out of reach of his rivals in the points standings as he seeks to defend his 2011 Rally America Championship title. Higgins and his co-driver Craig Drew kept their mettle while at the wheel of their BFGoodrich Tires-shod 2012 Subaru WRX STI after their closest challenger dropped out of the event and Higgins ran nearly unchallenged for a large portion of the event.
The Oregon Trail Rally began Friday evening with short mixed-surface spectator friendly stages at Portland International Raceway where Higgins jumped to a nine second lead by winning all four stages. For Saturday and Sunday, teams moved on to the technical and fast gravel roads east of Portland in the shadow of Mt. Hood along the Columbia River Gorge.
Higgins' dominating win at Oregon had its only hiccup early on the second day as he slid off a slippery, rain soaked, corner at high speed. The #75 Subaru WRX STI literally bounced back on the road but the encounter with the scenery inflicted moderate damage to the suspension along with mild body damage. Higgins was able to drive back to the subsequent scheduled service and a quick repair from his service crew put his STI back on the charge. Higgins soon learned that his arch rival Antoine L'Estage was out of the event with a mechanical problem which meant Higgins could set a more prudent pace for the remainder of the event, driving just fast enough to maintain and even extend his lead without taking any undue risks. He went on to win by a margin of nearly four and a half minutes plus won 12 of the event's 16 special stages.
"This is a big win for us and gives us a really firm grip on the championship," explained Higgins. "We took maximum points and Antoine [L'Estage], our closest rival, did not finish, so it couldn't have gone any better really. Our Subaru was just perfect, it's so well suited for these conditions and really proved this weekend to be equally as tough too."
Added James Han, motorsports marketing manager for Subaru of America, Inc., "We're coming away from Oregon with a commanding points lead, but our team will continue pushing our technical development agenda forward through the balance of rallies in the 2012 season. "
Subaru Rally Team USA welcomes PUMA as a new sponsor. The sportlifestyle brand becomes the official supplier of team and racewear and an exclusive licensing partner to the team for footwear and apparel. PUMA also is the official team sponsor of the Subaru PUMA RallyCross Team of Dave Mirra, Sverre Isachsen, and Bucky Lasek.
Subaru Rally Team USA next travels to Wellsboro, Pa., for round four of the Rally America National Championship, the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally on June 2, 2012.
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), PUMA, BFGoodrich Tires, RECARO, PIAA, Exedy, 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.