WRC » 16 March 2007
PWRC: Q&A: Mark Higgins - EXCLUSIVE.
by Rob Wilkins
Britain's Mark Higgins finally took his maiden win in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship last weekend, when he took the spoils on the Rally Mexico. That result moved him up to joint third in the PWRC standings and sets him up nicely for rest of the season, when in addition for going for the Production Cup, he will also defend his British Rally Championship title and compete in the Irish tarmac championship.
It's a packed programme for the Pirelli tester, but here during a rare break, he speaks exclusively to Crash.net Radio about Mexico and much, much more...
Mark, congratulations on that win in Mexico. You must have been well pleased with that?
I was delighted. We have had a tough time in the PWRC and it all seemed to come right on that rally. After Sweden, which was a really terrible start to the championship, we are back on track again now. We are looking forward and trying to get everything sorted out for Greece.
How tough was it, because you were under a lot of pressure on the first two days and never had more than a 10 second cushion?
In a way I would rather be in that position where you are fighting. It is when you have actually got a lead you have a lot to lose [like we had on the final day when we were more than 1 minute up on Toshi Arai]. When you are fighting at the front all you want to do is stay in the front, so it gives you motivation. It keeps you concentrated and I did enjoy the battle [with Mirco Baldacci].
We were driving and when I say comfortably, we had a nice pace and we were able to avoid rocks and keep out of trouble with punctures and everything and that seems to be where the times come from with the Group N cars. It is very easy to over drive the cars, when you push too hard and you actually lose time. There were a couple of occasions where I drove and I thought: 'Nobody will beat that time' and you actually do lose time. Where as vice versa when you feel you haven't been quite so good, you end up taking quite a chunk of time out of people. So it is a strange old thing.
OK, two hard days pushing, which is great, but I would definitely say the third day was more pressure, because we had it all to lose.
The event itself came in for a bit of criticism - what was your take on proceedings? Was it justified?
[pause] …Yeah, but it is a shame, because the event is probably one of the best in the world from an atmosphere point of view. At the start ramp there were 60,000 people and I have never seen anything like it before.
The spectator control was generally very, very good. But there were a few kids and people who just spoilt it for everybody. We had a window smashed on the first day by spectators and on the third day we had a stone thrown at us on the road section. I ran across the field after the lads and it was probably three or four eight year-old kids that did it. They were just having 'a bit of fun' and don't know anything of the dangers. It is a real, real shame because it is a fantastic rally. The roads are good. The organisation is good and as I say, it is a real pity.
There was that incident on day two as well wasn't there with the gate that was left open?
That is a bit of an awkward one that. Initially we all thought it was a spectator doing that, but it may have been that the gate was knocked by somebody, because it was on the left hand corner. It could have swung shut and then every time a car came through something happened. So it is hard blame that on spectators.
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