CHERRY HILL, N.J., July 18, 2011 Subaru of America, Inc. Subaru Rally Team USA driver David Higgins has won the 2011 Rally America National Championship with a 2nd Overall finish at the season finale, the New England Forest Rally, this past weekend. In a hotly contested season Higgins and his co-driver Craig Drew piloted their BFGoodrich Tires-shod 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car to three victories and two 2nd Overall finishes in the six-event Rally America National Championship. The 2011 driver’s title is 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.
“It’s amazing and hasn’t really sunk in yet,” explained Higgins at the podium celebration. “The level of competition was really fierce all year, and it was a big challenge for me to come back to the USA after seven years away and adjust to new events, a co-driver I had never worked with before as well as new car. But everything meshed really well and our Subaru STI was a joy to drive fast. Driving for Subaru is every rally driver’s dream as the brand is so famous for rallying, so this is something really special for me.”
”Both David and Craig have done a stellar job the entire season extracting the utmost performance from their STI, supported by the solid car preparation by our team,” noted James Han, motorsports marketing manager for Subaru of America, Inc. “With the championship comprised of only six rounds against defending titleholders Antoine [L’Estage] and Nathalie [Richard] with their experience on those events makes SRT USA’s successful effort in regaining the championship that much more special. The effort of our team members and supporting sponsors has been exceptional, and the superlative performance of our STI was properly showcased.”
Higgins joined Subaru Rally Team USA at the start of the 2011 season, replacing longtime Subaru team driver Travis Pastrana who had earned the Rally America National Championship from 2006 through 2009. A season-long rivalry quickly ensued between Higgins and Canadian rally ace Antoine L’Estage, the defending Rally America Champion and Canadian Rally Champion. Higgins and L’Estage were at each other’s heels at every rally with the rivalry coming to a dramatic head last month at the Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally where Higgins came from behind late in the event to beat L’Estage by a mere 1.3 seconds.
The victory last month in Pennsylvania earned Higgins enough of a points lead over L’Estage that Higgins only needed to finish fourth or better at the New England Forest Rally this weekend to secure the driver’s title. A tactical fight ensued in New England with Higgins maintaining a 2nd overall position behind L’Estage while driving just fast enough to keep the chasing pack comfortably behind him.
In addition to three event victories and the driver’s title in the Rally America series, Higgins recently won the re-born Mt. Washington ‘Climb to the Clouds’ Hillclimb. He smashed the course record by over 30 seconds, driving the same Subaru STI he utilized in the Rally America Championship. Higgins has little time to celebrate, earlier this month he was invited to compete at ESPN Summer X Games 17 in Los Angeles. He will compete in both the Rally Car Racing and RallyCross competitions taking place on July 30th and 31st respectively.