RAMER: Subaru Rally Team USA Sno*Drift summary

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Dave Mirra Stages Comeback to Finish 2nd Overall at Season Opener Sno*Drift Rally

(January 31, 2011) Subaru Rally Team USA driver Dave Mirra achieved a rally career best 2nd Overall finish at the season opening Sno*Drift Rally via a nail biting comeback late in the rally. Mirra, at the wheel of his 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI rally car, patiently moved up the leaderboard after a tire puncture early in the rally dropped him down to 5th Overall. Driving smooth and mistake free Mirra, with co-driver Marshall Clarke, caught and overhauled 2nd overall position on the penultimate stage of the rally. The Sno*Drift Rally, held in snowy northern Michigan was round one of the six round 2011 Rally America National Championship.

The Sno*Drift Rally featured nearly 130 miles of snow and ice-covered roads in northern Michigan with nearly one third of the miles run at night. Constantly changing weather and road conditions historically make this rally one of the most difficult in the Rally America Championship. The event is made even more challenging due to Rally America rules that prohibit the use of spiked or studded ice tires, placing a premium on traction.

Mirra started the rally cautiously, as he grew accustomed to working with his new co-driver, the experienced Marshall Clarke, as well as the difficult conditions that the Sno*Drift Rally is notorious for. However, the duo would encounter a major setback when they were forced to stop on stage late into day one and change a punctured tire, losing nearly five crucial minutes in the process. But Mirra stayed composed and patient, slowly increasing his speed on day two and began to leapfrog up the leader board from 5th to 3rd position. Then on the final two stages Mirra moved into 2nd Overall position and held on for his best ever stage rally finish.

"I had a game plan for Sno*Drift to start slow and stay composed and mistake free, while not worrying much about stage times," explained Mirra at the podium. "So much can happen here, the conditions and the traction change from turn to turn. As things progressed I felt more and more comfortable with the car and the notes, plus Marshall and I were working perfectly together. It feels great to earn a podium here after having stuck to my strategy and staying patient. My Subaru ran great in these tough conditions."

Mirra's new teammate, multi-time British and American Rally champion David Higgins made his competition debut with Subaru Rally Team USA at Sno*Drift. An expected battle for overall victory between Higgins and 2010 Canadian and Rally America Champion Antoine L'Estage never materialized as L'Estage retired after sliding off the road on the opening loop of stages. Higgins then inherited a strong lead of over two minutes heading into the final night stages of day one. However Higgins and his co-driver Craig Drew had their rally abruptly cut short when their Subaru experienced an engine issue forcing them to retire.

"Although my debut with the 2011 Subaru STI was cut short, I had a really good feeling with the car and came away from Sno*Drift with a very bright outlook on the 2011 season," explained Higgins. "I'm really looking forward to driving on the high speed gravel stages at next month's 100 Acre Wood Rally."

-source: srtusa

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Series RALLYCAR