David Higgins Overcomes Extreme Adversity to Finish 2nd Overall at the Ojibwe Forests Rally

Higgins retains lead in the Rally America National Championship heading into the final round

(August 26, 2013) Defending Rally America Champion David Higgins overcame both extraordinary and unexpected adversity at the Ojibwe Forests Rally to finish 2nd Overall in his 2013 Subaru WRX STI. First Higgins was impeded by choking dust which affected every top car except the first on the road. Comfortably in 2nd overall, Higgins was then besieged by an unbelievable chain of events including potentially breaking his hand while driving, then later having an SUV run over his foot while inspecting a steering issue. The team also had a near miss with a falling tree. Amazingly, Higgins and his co-driver Craig Drew persevered and were able to finish the remainder of the rally and reach the podium. The finish helps Higgins continue to lead the Rally America Driver’s Championship with just one round to go.

The 2013 Ojibwe Forests Rally rejoined the Rally America National Championship series after several years as a regional level event. The rally featured nearly 140 miles of technical sandy gravel roads around the western Minnesota town of Detroit Lakes. The loose sandy roads proved to be extremely dusty this year with major visibility problems for all of the top cars except the first car on the road. Eventual rally winner Ken Block drew first pick of start-position and chose to start 1st on the road, effectively giving him a clear dust-free run, while Higgins and his other rivals were hampered by the thick hanging dust. On the first day’s stages Higgins lost over one minute to Block in the treacherous conditions.

“We knew after the seeded draw and pre-event shakedown that we were in deep trouble this weekend with the dust, especially in the night stages on day one,” explained Higgins. “The plan was to try and stay in touch with Ken [Block] and keep the pressure there for day two, hoping he would hit trouble. It started off well enough but then things took a bizarre turn.”

Early on day two, Higgins lost the power steering, then shortly thereafter something in the road surface snapped the wheel which seriously injured his hand. Nursing a possible broken hand Higgins pressed on and finished the stage in pain. After exiting the stage Higgins and Drew pulled over and were working under the hood to try and repair the power steering when Higgins’ foot was run over and injured by a passing SUV. Rattled by the series of events, they proceeded to the next stage. The duo even contemplated switching roles and having co-driver Craig Drew drive, should Higgins be unable to do so, but Higgins decided he could do it and pressed on.
To Higgins dismay however the bizarre series of events was not yet over. While waiting for the next stage start, a tree came crashing down in front of Higgins’ Subaru blocking the road. They eventually were able to continue through the stage and made it back to Service where Higgins and his car received care. Higgins pushed through the pain and finished the final stages and although the earlier incident had cost him several minutes he was able to retain 2nd overall.

“It was all unbelievable. At least we won the final stage of the rally, which I drove one-handed. It was clear that it was not meant to be though.”

The showdown for the 2013 Rally America Championship will conclude at the Lake Superior Rally on Oct 18-19 in Houghton, Michigan.

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Photography: Lars Gange - rally.subaru.com