In the fifth of an exclusive series of columns for Crash.net, former British rally champion David Higgins talks about ripped muscles, Guy Wilks' exclusion from the Trackrod, and his championship showdown with his brother.

As I write this column I'm finding leaning over the laptop quite painful - it's hard to believe I contested Trackrod Rally Yorkshire in worse pain just a few weeks ago.
The problem started when I was instructing at our Forest Experience Rally School the week before the rally. Someone rolled a car when I was sitting alongside them as a passenger, and I hurt myself as we rolled.

Initially I thought I had broken some ribs, but now we think the problem is actually that the muscle that holds the ribs together has torn away. Either way, it's phenomenally painful and I was unable to take any painkillers during the rally because they were making me sick.

But the last time I wrote I was only just preparing for the Ulster Rally, so we'll go back to that...

We had been disappointed with our speed on Rally Isle of Man [even though we finished third], so we practically re-built the cars for the Ulster. We finished fifth in Ireland in the end though and that really wasn't good enough.

The cars ran faultlessly, but we thought we had made a lot of progress on the cars ahead of the event, and we found we had gone backwards instead.

But nobody ever said developing a new car would be easy, so we took on board what we had learned and moved on. The important thing was we still led the championship after Ulster.

But we hadn't much time to think about the BRC before we had to pack up for the next event in China, the Mohe Rally. Sometimes the British and Chinese events fall quite close to each other on the calendar, especially this year, when the championship in China has started later in the year because of the Olympics.

The Mohe Rally was an unusual one for China. It actually got stopped early because of the high speeds we were reaching on the stages. The stages are usually twisty in China so we don't reach average speeds of 100mph and the fact we were all going so fast surprised the organisers.

But we loved it as usual, and took yet another win - that made seven consecutive wins in the championship. Nobody has ever done that before in China, and it felt great.

Also it was our first gravel rally since the Pirelli back in April, so it was great to get back on that surface - we won every stage of the event in our WY team Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9.

Sadly we were unable to take that run of wins any further though, because the next event in China clashed with Trackrod Rally Yorkshire, and the BRC is our priority for the year. So the WY rally team had to find a new crew to get team points for them in China, while we made the much shorter trip to Yorkshire for the Trackrod.

It was a strange day out to say the least. Actually, it was a weird week leading up to the event. As you probably know, I teach at the family Forest Experience rally school most days. So a week before the Trackrod it was business as usual as I headed up to teach a new batch of students. But then one of them rolled the car, while I was sitting alongside them - as I mentioned at the start of this column - and that's when the muscle ripped away from my bones.

Too much information? Sorry, but it is well on the mend now - which is good because Wales Rally GB might be a while away, but we're off back to China at the end of the month.

Anyway, back to the Trackrod. We had problems with a broken driveshaft and ended up driving for almost four full stages with it.

Then the FX Motor Sports team had to perform a quick gear change in the lunch time service, which meant we got to the end - just as another shaft broke - but we were still third fastest in that last stage!

We took third placed BRC points, which we felt was good considering we'd had so much trouble.

But after the event, news spread that Guy Wilks had been excluded at post-event scrutineering for technical reasons. That moved us up to second overall.
The results remain provisional for now after Mitsubishi appealed Guy's exclusion, I think the situation will probably go on for some time.

Whatever happens, it looks like my brother Mark and I will be fighting for the British title on Rally GB. We've both been British champions before and both desperately want to be champion again - and there's no rivalry like sibling rivalry!

Mark is a difficult person for me to compete against because he has always been the driver I have looked up to most during my career. He is always so quick and will never give in. He is in a very strong position for the title with the amount of wins he has had this season. But Rally GB is difficult, so the points we have in the bag could help a lot - just finishing GB is difficult.

Rally GB will also be even harder than the last few BRC rounds for points' scoring because registered drivers like Juho Hanninen and Patrik Flodin will be back with us as they will be doing the event as part of their Production WRC campaigns.

But as I say, we've got the Chinese championship to continue with before that. I'll write again after that and hope to see you on Rally GB.

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