by Rob Wilkins
TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL WITH MARK HIGGINS: CLICK HERE
Three-time British Rally champion Mark Higgins had to settle for the runners-up spot this season in the Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship - and 'bronze' in the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship. Crash.net Radio
caught up with the Stobart
Motorsport man recently to chat to him about his season and the recent Wales Rally GB...
Mark, your season came to a close on the Rally GB and in the end you couldn't take that fourth BRC title. How disappointing was that for you?
I suppose the whole end of the season was very disappointing. We started off with really high hopes to try to achieve - and it was probably an unrealistic goal - of getting three championships. But at one time it was looking all on. The Irish Tarmac Championship started off well and the British Championship started off quite well too. Then we were also doing really well in the P-WRC and to come to GB and go away with nothing is mega disappointing.
Do you go into the off-season now on a bit of a down or have you already started to try and put that behind you?
I think you start looking straight away to what is going on next year and try and get meetings sorted and see what is happening. I suppose from my performance point of view we have done quite well this year. It has just been a shame it hasn't all come together with the exact results. We should have really won the Irish championship and probably could have had we been in a World Rally Car all the way through. The pace was good most of the year and also when we had the same car again on the last round in Wales we were very competitive with Guy [Wilks]. From that point of view I am OK - but there is just nothing to show for it at the end.
Looking at the last event - the Rally GB, how hard was it because not only was it a double-points scoring affair for the BRC, but also the weather conditions were extremely taxing too weren't they?
It was probably some of the worst conditions I have seen for Rally GB for a long time. OK we normally get fog or we normally get rain or we normally get mud, but to get them altogether and in darkness on the Friday was pretty horrific and one little problem just multiplied really. If you had a clean run through it you got a really good time [in the final stage on day 1] - and fair play to Gwyndaf [Evans] because he set a really good time and he nearly actually won the day, all in one stage. It also showed it is never over until it is over, but when luck is not quite on your side, it is never ideal.
Were those night stages a good addition to the event?
Definitely - anything that is a challenge is good. It is the same with Rally Ireland, which is like the Safari on tarmac. We need challenges in rallying. It is no point having it all the same. The WRC has got very samey and when you look at it all the gravel rallies are very similar - they are mainly dry, dusty gravel events. Then you look at the tarmac ones and they have all been fairly similar too. So I think to get the night stages back in and to get the conditions changeable, it makes it more of a lottery, so things can happen because it has just got very, very predictable. Also if you have any problems you just haven't got the time to get anything back, whereas if you look at those stages in the dark and when the weather is bad, if you do make a charge or something happens, you have actually got a chance. It makes the whole event more unpredictable.
How tough was it competing against the 'works' Mitsubishi team this season in the BRC and their two drivers', Guy Wilks and Gwyndaf Evans?