Q&A: Mark Higgins – EXCLUSIVE.

Yeah it seems like a long time ago now. That went very much according to plan. We decided we wanted to drive for the championship, as opposed to the previous year where we just had to win rallies. I really enjoyed the World Rally Cars, but the Group N formula was very competitive. It definitely worked and we were fighting for seconds on every stage between four or five drivers, which is what it is all about.

We had a good lead on the Pirelli, but unfortunately we had a double puncture which dropped as down. But Ryan Champion came through and did a great job and he won the rally. So going onto the tarmac rounds there was a bit of pressure on. We had a great battle with Rory Galligan [on the Jim Clark] and finished on equal times as it was, [but we got the win there under the tie break rule] and that put us back in the lead in the championship. From there on we weren't able to control it, but for the Manx, getting another good result there made it a lot easier for us.

Next season are you going to continue in the BRC?

It would be nice to come back and do three in a row – it has never been done before, but we are just looking. Normally after GB you know what you are doing. Unfortunately though with GB being so late this year I think we have all got a bit too relaxed to be honest and nobody knows what is going to be going on for next year. We have got some options. We are looking at what we are going to be doing next year. I would like to be back out in the BRC again and have a crack at that title, but who knows. It is a very strange sport and it is very expensive and it is getting more and more difficult every year. I am sure though we will be back doing something.

What do you make of the International Rally Challenge and the new Super 2000 cars? Is that something that is worth considering?

I think it is a very good formula, if you can get enough manufacturers involved. They are quite exciting cars and you have got to drive them really, really hard. It all depends how they are gauged against Group N. Wales Rally GB is a wet rally and is never going to favour a Super 2000 car. But maybe on a dry event they are going to be very, very competitive and I think, especially when you go to the tarmac rallies, it will be a very good car. If you get four or five manufacturers', then it is back like the F2 days, and that is what we need to try and achieve again if we can. If we can do that it would be excellent.

Do you think the IRC will be able to rival the WRC?

It depends on the drivers' and cars'. The rallies are good and it is a championship which a lot of people would very much like to do. Again it is a chance for drivers' to get involved with manufacturers', which hasn't happened for a while, because in the WRC you have got Ford, Citroen and Subaru and that is pretty much it unfortunately. So to get in with somebody and build up - and if they get a taste for the WRC in the future, that is another bonus. I think the IRC will be good if it gets good TV coverage and there is a little bit of hype that is starting to gather about it – it is maybe going to be a bit late for 2007, and maybe they need to look to the following year, because there are not really enough cars about at the moment. But I think when people see how competitive and exciting they are, hopefully it could be the future.

You have been working for Pirelli this season. You must be quite sad to see them pull out of the WRC at the end of this year?

Very much so, they have been apart of rallying for many, many years. The history they have in rallying and the wins they have had is incredible. They have had good and bad years, but then we all have. For them to be pulling out is a big shame - but they have got plenty of things they will be working on for the future. There is a single make tyre coming in, in a couple of years, so maybe they are working for that. I don't know. I have done a lot of testing for them this year and if development is going on still, hopefully we will be involved in that.

BF Goodrich tyres have been dominant this season in the WRC. How much of that was down to Pirelli dropping the ball and how much was down to Subaru – or was it a bit of both?

I think you have got to look, OK, Michelin or BF Goodrich have done a very good job this year, but Pirelli have had only one team with Subaru - and Subaru have had a lot of problems. With all the tyres, on certain rallies, you have got to pick the right tyres for the conditions. It is all about compromise and that is what rallying is all about. The package needs to work from both sides. It has been frustrating for both parties this year – for Subaru and Pirelli. But that is rallying, you have to take the highs and the lows and you can guarantee that Subaru and Pirelli will be back fighting shortly.


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Mark Higgins (GBR) - Rory Kennedy (IRL), Ford Focus WRC. Wales Rally GB, 1st-3rd December 2006.
2006 British Rally ChampionshipTrackrod Rally, Yorkshire.7th October 2006Mark Higgins and Rory Kennedy
Mark Higgins (GBR) - Rory Kennedy (IRL), Ford Focus WRC. Wales Rally GB, 1st-3rd December 2006.
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