Subaru Motorsports USA finished with two WRX STI rally cars on the podium at Minnesota’s Muscatell Ojibwe Forests Rally, as David Higgins led wire-to-wire for the victory and teammate Travis Pastrana secured a third-place finish. With his third event win of the season, Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew are now well in command of the American Rally Association (ARA) championship lead as Higgins seeks his tenth U.S. rally title.
The seventh round of the ARA campaign kicked off in the resort town of Detroit Lakes with a pair of Thursday night super special stages before moving north for two days of competition in the forests. After the super specials, Higgins sat atop the field with a slim lead over his teammate. Pastrana, competing in only his second stage rally event of the year but coming off a strong showing at the previous week’s Nitro Rallycross event, was hoping to get up to pace quickly on the early stages in the Minnesota lake country
On Friday, Higgins came out fast with the goal of building his lead against Pastrana and championship rival Barry McKenna. The defending ARA title-winner was in top form early. With Pastrana suffering a puncture on Stage 5 that dropped him to more than a minute behind his teammate, the way was clear for Higgins. By the end of the day, the Isle of Man native had built a lead of nearly a minute over McKenna’s second-place Ford and notched a perfect six stage wins. The comfortable margin would allow him to shift to a more conservative strategy on Saturday as he focused on preserving his lead.
With a first-place finish likely out of reach, Pastrana and co-driver Robbie Durant came into the second day of forest stages needing a hard push to catch McKenna for second. Unfortunately, an off on Stage 9 dropped them further back and caused front-end damage to the #199 Subaru. With his podium position hanging in the balance during Saturday morning’s 30-minute service session, the Vermont SportsCar technicians were able to replace the intercooler, radiator support, bumper, headlight and tires in time to put Pastrana back out for the second loop of stages. The five-time national champion and action sports legend responded with quick, consistent drives the rest of the way, including a pair of stage wins in the afternoon, to secure his third-place finish.
“Very glad to have win number three in the books,” Higgins said after the finish. “We built a good lead and kept the car clean, so really a great rally! From here we’ve got a solid lead going into the last two events of the year, so we’ll stay focused and try to get the job done next month in Pennsylvania.”
“What a weekend!” said Pastrana. ”We just came here to do some ‘durability testing’ and and man, the Subaru does good! David was much quicker this weekend, and we were really trading stages with Barry. We got our butts handed to us by David, but what a great time!”
David Higgins will face off against teammate Oliver Solberg at Pennsylvania’s Susquehannock Trail Performance Rally, September 13-14.