In the fourth of an exclusive series of columns for Crash.net, former British rally champion David Higgins talks about being honoured in China, becoming a wedding chauffeur for the day ahead of the Rally Isle of Man, and expanding FX Motor Sports.

Quite a lot has happened since I last wrote. We've been to China, relived the old days of the RAC Rally at Chatsworth, and completed another round of the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship - and it's all proved very successful.

The first event was the Shanghai Rally, and it felt really good to get back into competing in China again. As you know, we won every round of the Chinese championship last year, but we took the fifth of those five wins right back in November, six months before our trip back to Shanghai!

The Chinese championship calendar has changed quite a bit this year because of the Olympics being held in Beijing this year, that's why the season has started so late there.

It turned out to be an emotional trip. Not long before we went to China, the earthquake happened. So although we were happy to win, there were no celebrations on the podium. You couldn't help but think about what had happened while you were there, and we had several small aftershocks in the area where the team were staying for the rally too.

We had an extra surprise at the awards dinner though. As well as my co-driver Ieuan and I receiving awards for winning the rally, I was also presented with a special award called 'the honour of China'. I was told it was in recognition of winning so many events in the country last year, and because of some charity work we do when we go out there. It was a huge honour to be thought of that way by the people of the country, and was a huge surprise.

Going from there to the Rally Show at Chatsworth was a complete turnaround. The event was part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the British championship, and was great fun to be part of. Chatsworth used to be a real haven for spectators on the RAC Rally, so it was great to be there - the sunshine helped too - and be part of having rally cars roaring around the fantastic grounds of the house again.

It was also a good chance for the TQ.com team to bring some friends and sponsors along to a more relaxing type of rally too, a single venue where they could see lots of action in one place and get a feel for the BRC in a more relaxed non-competitive environment. We went on to win our section of the event too.

I do love to win, but it was more about having fun that day, winning was just a bonus. I was surprised more BRC crews didn't turn out for the event though. I think more crews could have taken advantage of what was a well put together, fun, family orientated day out, and it would have been nice for the spectators to see more BRC crews compete there.

From there it was back to the BRC. To date we had enjoyed third place finishes on the Pirelli and the Jim Clark, and we know that good finishes are going to be the key to the championship this year.

Next was Rally Isle of Man and I actually got a day off on the island before the rally - well, sort of...

We went over to the island earlier than planned this year for the wedding of former Motorsport News journalist Jo Holland and Mini driver Neil Burgess. I know Jo well, and she had asked me earlier this year if I would drive her to the wedding if she got married on the island before the rally, so a plan was hatched. I drove her from Douglas to Castle Rushen in Castletown in one of our BRC Subaru Impreza N14s, we even put her married name 'Burgess' on the back windows of the car as a surprise. It was great fun, and she had no worries about getting dirt on her dress, she seemed more excited about finally getting a run in one of the TQ.com cars!

Wedding over, it was back to business as we continued the recce the next day. I always enjoy going to Rally Isle of Man because I was born on the island and still have a lot of family and friends over there. It probably felt even better this year to bring FX Motor Sports to the island for the first time.

Although it's the BRC event I probably have least experience of, the roads are amazing to drive and the atmosphere on that event is always really good. We came away with third place points again, but more importantly we came away from the island still leading the British championship. My brother Mark has moved up to second place behind me after winning the event, we both love to win and we would both love to be leading the championship points, so it should make the next round in Ulster interesting.

We had a few problems during the event as we continue to develop the new car, but the team performed well. The TQ.com team was the only team to get both cars home without using the SupeRally rules, which is a credit to FX Motor Sports in our first year in the championship.

I did wish we could have had more speed to chase Mark and Guy [Wilks] on the island though. Although we took third by a large margin, we were quite a bit behind those two. But that's what can happen when you are developing a new car, and we have taken on board what we did learn on the island and done a lot of work since then to progress things for the Ulster Rally later this month.

We're not just working on Ulster at the moment either. Just two weeks after we compete there Ieuan and I will be heading back over to China for the second round of the Chinese championship.

We've also been looking at enquiries from a lot of drivers who would like FX Motor Sports to run them in the future, which is a testament to how well the team have worked and impressed people this year in the BRC. We may add some new drivers to the FX fold as soon as the Ulster Rally, as we are trying to put a deal together for Fiesta ST driver James Everard to join our junior team on the event. So, as usual, it's a busy few weeks ahead of us - but as usual we're looking forward to getting out and competing.

It would be amazing to win every round in China again this year, and regain the British title - and that's still our plan.

David


For more information on David Higgins visit his personal website: http://davidhigginsrally.com/ or simply CLICK HERE.

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment