David Higgins is fighting both the pain barrier and personnel changes as he continues to prepare for the 2010 Chinese Rally Championship, aiming to collect a second consecutive team title for the WY rally team.
On the final Chinese round of 2009, the Shaowu Rally, Higgins was hit by a motorcycle while out training, and he is still suffering from the injury today. Meanwhile, the WY team have also had some staff changes since last year which may have handed a rival team an advantage even before the season starts.
Higgins' main engineer has been hired by KST, the team which seems most determined to try to gain the title from WY. Last year they drafted in David's brother Mark for an event in an attempt to raise the pressure, and they have now recruited Mark for the entire 2010 season.
"Hiring our engineer is a very clever move," said David. "He was both fantastic at his job and speaking English and Chinese so that immediately removes any type of language barrier between a British driver and a Chinese team. And Mark will use a Mitsubishi Lancer E9 the same as we used last year, so our engineer will be able to tell him exactly what set up we won with last year."
David and his co-driver Ieuan Thomas have recruited a new engineer from the UK for 2010. Although his engineering experience is outstanding, there will be a concern about communication with the team as he is not Chinese speaking.
"Our new engineer has a wealth of experience and has done a lot of work with the Evo X," said David. "So that will help the switch to the new car, although we will be starting from scratch as regards finding a good set up for the car for China, and this year's championship is going to be very hard to retain. They have changed the rules so only Chinese drivers can score the bonus points available on each leg, and last year we won 51 of the 56 points our team received."
With the first event taking place on March 13-14, David has been training hard, although still in a lot of pain.
"Although my injury is far from better, I have been training very hard," said David. "But I have had to do much more swimming instead of running and squash, because my foot is still very sore. But we are heading out to China as confident as ever - and very much looking forward to having the number one on our car."