PORTLAND, Ore. – Subaru Rally Team USA dominated the Oregon Trail Rally to win the third round of the Rally America National Championship held in Portland and Hood River, Oregon on May 3-5.
The British duo, David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew, never relinquished their lead from the start and drove a masterful race to establish a two minute window over their competition and enough breathing room to drive the last day without difficulty.
However, the team nearly ended their event when Higgins struck exposed bedrock at high speeds that tore through their Subaru Impreza WRX STI suspension on stage 16. Higgins gingerly drove through the last stage of the day as the car severely pulled to one side and just made it back to service for repairs.
“I’ve got to thank Subaru for providing such a reliable, durable and fast car to Drew and I,” said Higgins, “Once we amassed a big lead it afforded us the opportunity to really dial back the speed on Sunday and reduce the risks. We didn’t win stages outright but knew it was the right strategy for victory. This is a very challenging event and I enjoy the big mix of character in the stages. There is still a long season ahead but we are in a really good spot now in the points.”
This Oregon Trail Rally victory marks the third event win in a row for Higgins and Drew, and the fifth Oregon Trail Rally overall win for Higgins in his career. Higgins extends his Rally America National Championship lead in the standings with 61 points.
Hoonigan Racing’s Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino persevered through multiple mechanical difficulties to salvage second place in their 2012 Ford Fiesta. The team fell behind early when they lost a wheel on stage 3, suffered a driveshaft failure on stage 5 and more tire punctures throughout the second day. Block also impacted the same exposed bedrock that Higgins hit and managed to get the car back to service without overheating the car. Block readjusted to win every stage on Sunday but could not make up time on Higgins’ substantial lead.
Indonesia’s Rifat Sungkar amazingly completed the podium in third place in his Rally America debut with co-driver Marshall Clarke. Clarke having raced in the states previously provided Sungkar with a quick education in American racing.
Sungkar survived two nearly catastrophic incidents when he impacted a stage 2 guardrail and went off course on stage 17. Sungkar’s rally was nearly over when he lost power transiting back to the final control zone if not for Art Gruszka, a fellow class rival, offering to tow Sungkar to the victory circle.