Higgins sets new record at “Climb to the Clouds”
- 30th June 2014, 11:25pm
Subaru Rally Team USA's David Higgins and Craig Drew won their third consecutive Rally America National Championship at the Subaru Mt. Washington Hillclimb, "Climb to the Clouds" in Gorham, New Hampshire on June 26-29, and set a new record in the process.
Their resounding victory added a larger buffer to their overall points standings lead at the midpoint of the Rally America National Championship season, and against their main rival and teammates Travis Pastrana and Chrissie Beavis.
Higgins and Drew drove a flawless Hillclimb to take the lead after the very first stage with Pastrana and Beavis just 2.9 seconds behind. Pastrana stayed in attack mode until a massive Stage 3 tire puncture ripped through the body work of his car to lose nearly 30 seconds. On Stage 5, Pastrana was down on power and lost another minute to Higgins before salvaging a second place finish.
On stage 5, Higgins bested his own 2011 Climb to the Clouds record of 6:11.54 with a time of 6:11.24 despite having a heavier, less powerful car! With a single stage left, Higgins found more speed to destroy the record he previously set that morning by at least 2 seconds with a time of 6:09.09.
"It was a great event and we put in a big effort for those few seconds," explained Higgins. "There is so much history here and it's great to be a part of it again for Subaru. This was a big challenge this weekend as we had Pastrana and our old record staring us down. But Craig (Drew) was perfect on the notes and Subaru gave me a car that was perfect."
The team was uncertain the record would be attainable with a less than ideal hill climb car. But the possibility of breaking the record materialized when the team found that Higgins was a second slower off his 2011 record when combining his best Friday and Saturday stage times from the lower and upper half runs.
Notably, FY Racing's Adam Yeoman and Jordan Schulze suffered car issues at the start of the rally event that immediately forced the team into service and reenter the next day with time penalties according to Super Rally rules. This placed Yeoman in the back of the pack when he normally challenges the podium, but with the limited stages the team did not have a chance to jump back to the top.
The Climb to the Clouds will be a memorable event for Super Production's Dillon Van Way and Andrew Edwards who took third overall and their very first Super Production Class victory. Amazingly, Van Way has podiumed in every event he has entered in the SP Class, but until this point, never landed in the top spot.
Van Way's victory comes at an important juncture in his battle with class rivals Nick Roberts and Rhianon Gelsomino in the points standings. Not only does Van Way remain second overall in the overall standings, but he also increases his SP points lead by 14 over Roberts.
"Our first class win of the season feels really great!" exclaimed, Van Way, "It feels like a long time coming because we've been so close so many times this season. We really just had to have a clean run after Nick's off on the stage 3, so really we are most excited for our third overall. Personally for me sharing a podium with Travis Pastrana was a life long dream come true!"
Nick Roberts and Rhianon Gelsomino had an exciting, yet disappointing Climb to the Clouds. The team was locked in a tight battle with Van Way until they lost their left rear wheel from striking a rock on Stage 3 and forcing the team to reenter the rally on Sunday with time penalties under Super Rally Rules.
Roberts and Gelsomino more importantly still finished the Climb to the Clouds to take second in class. Their thirteenth overall finish does not help their overall points standing, but the team still keeps the SP Class points race close with Van Way.
In the Two-Wheel Drive (2WD) category, Andrew Comrie-Picard and Ole Holter dominated in their Ford Fiesta ST to take their second victory this season. Troy Miller and Steven Harrell kept the race close before engine failure claimed their race on stage 5. Miller was hoping to continue his success following his first 2WD victory at the Susquehannock Trail Rally earlier this month.
"What a fantastic event! I've never done it before and it's an incredible challenge," said Comrie-Picard, "Team O'Neil and Ford Racing put together an amazing package in the Fiesta ST. BFGoodrich set us up with a track tire that worked perfectly and Ole was perfect on the notes which was crucial. The result is a huge leap ahead for our championship and we're looking forward to NEFR!"
As a result of Miller's retirement, Cameron Steely and Preston Osborn moved up into second in class for his first ever national 2WD podium and set the fastest time for a front-wheel car at 7:13.28. Panos Karpidas and John Hall finished to give Karpidas third place for his second career national 2WD.
William Petrow and Ryan Symancek set the fastest 2WD time up the mountain in their 1991 Nissan 240sx with a time of 7:09.95.
The Climb to the Clouds only all female team of Erika Detota and Mary Warren finished ninth overall and fourth in the 2WD Class.
The Climb to the Clouds is a HillClimb event that included the Rally America National Championship as a stage rally event. The lower half of the 7.4 mile Auto Road was used for stages 1 and 2 on Friday, the upper dirt section was used for stages 3 and 4. Teams ran the entire Auto Road for stages 5 and 6 on Sunday.
The competitor count at the Climb to the Clouds was 75. Of those 75, 15 cars entered to compete in round five of the Rally America National Championship separate from the normal HillClimb operations.
- Full access
- Exclusive news
- Store & Tour discounts