Higgins takes win on tie-break
- 10th July 2006, 9:35am
Stobart VK Subaru driver Higgins set the same 2hrs 09mins 27.3secs over the course of the 21 stages as Mitsubishi Motors UK driver Galligan who had led the rally for 17 stages. The tie-break rule came into force and that takes the fastest stage time of the two tied drivers over the first stage, handing victory to Higgins.
"I was on the limit for the last three stages," said Higgins. "I could not have pushed any harder and it feels so good to win. I've finished second so many times that I really feel for Rory, he drove so well for the entire rally."
Galligan, who led the rally from the fourth stage until the 20th was gutted to be beaten within sight of victory.
"There was nothing I could do," he conceded. "I didn't know Mark was pushing as hard as he was but even if I had known I was doing everything that I could. He took two seconds out of me on the final Langton stage and I'd twice beaten him there, he was on it."
The win means Higgins takes the driver championship points lead by three points from Pirelli International Rally winner Ryan Champion. Mitsubishi Motors UK driver Champion took an impressive third, just under 50 seconds adrift of Galligan and Higgins.
"I'm happy enough, especially as I had gear selection problems at the end," said the reigning Mitsubishi Evo Challenge champion. "Apart from that the car ran faultlessly on this event."
S1600 runner Guy Wilks would have hoped that the rally ended after the first stage. The S1600 driver set the fastest stage time on the BRC contenders on the opening outing and maintained a strong position just adrift of the podium for the entire event.
"It's been a good fight against the GpN cars," said Wilks. "We top out at about 110mph where they have about 125mph to play with so you can see where they make the time especially when there's a straight of 3km on a stage."
Second of the S1600 cars was Stobart VK M-Sport Ford Rally Team driver Roman Kresta who suffered from the spectator-friendly water features of the event yet pushed on nevertheless.
"On Saturday's second stage we lost a load of minutes after the water splash and then we had a puncture early in the third stage which lost us time but when the car was running well it felt good," said Kresta. "It is early in the Fiesta's development and we have learnt a lot for the next tarmac round."
Saturday had seen a strong threat from 1996 champion Gwyndaf Evans in the SJR Hankook Mitsubishi Evo IX but the Mitsubishi Evo Challenge points leader coming into this event was to suffer the cruel blow of a rear differential failure after Evans had found the sweet spot of setup and tyre choice on Saturday morning to set stage fastest times.
"I heard noises going into stage 11 but they weren't enough to cause concern," said Evans. "But all of a sudden the job was finished. That we set the fastest time on three of the stages is really encouraging, but we've lost valuable points."
Evans had been leading the Mitsubishi Evo Challenge, which runs as part of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship in 2006, heading into the event, but that lead gets handed to Evans' SJR Hankook team-mate Stuart Jones who finished fourth in class despite struggling to find a set-up for his Evo IX. Jones now has 21 points to Jonny Milner's 19 for the plum prize of a works Mitsubishi BRC drive in 2007.
The next round of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship is once more on tarmac with the Rally Isle of Man on August 3-5.
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