CYPRESS, Calif., July 23 -- With four wins in the last five SCCA ProRally Championship events held across the country this year, Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America driver David Higgins and co-driver Daniel Barritt are on a record-setting pace. The duo appears to be unbeatable inside their race-tuned 400-plus horsepower, all-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
But they will face a grueling challenge when they arrive in Rumford, Maine, August 1-2. Rumford is the site of the 124-mile Maine Forest Rally, the sixth of the nine-events that make up the SCCA Manufacturer's Championship.
A race of 124 miles might not seem impressive until you understand the venue.
This year's MFR consists of 11 "special stages," where the rally competitors test both their driving skills as well as their racecar's endurance at speeds in excess of 100 miles-per-hour over challenging gravel logging roads ranging in length from 1/2 to 22 miles.
The mostly narrow, tortuous roads range from medium fast two-lane to narrow and twisty 1-1/2 lane; most are of the latter variety.
Britons Higgins and Barritt, the current SCCA ProRally driver and co- driver point's leaders, hope to bring in their brand new red-and-silver Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America's Lancer Evolution to another podium finish. Last year they finished third overall.
Teammate Lauchlin O'Sullivan, with co-driver Christian Edstrom at his side, will be in the hunt as well. O'Sullivan won the two-wheel-drive Open Class last year, finishing 19th overall. This year he is behind the wheel of an identically prepped Lancer Evolution team car and the all-American team will push hard to keep the current points leader in sight.
Higgins and O'Sullivan pilot race-tuned versions of the all-wheel-drive, 271-horsepower Lancer Evolutions that have garnered wide acclaim among high- performance sports car enthusiasts and automotive magazines since they went on sale in April.
"In event after event, the ProRally Lancer Evolutions' continue to demonstrate their tremendous performance capabilities to the world," says Pierre Gagnon, chairman and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.
Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) is responsible for all North American operations of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. As a single company consolidated on January 1, 2003, MMNA and its subsidiaries manufacture, distribute, finance, and market Mitsubishi brand coupes, convertibles, sedans and sport utility vehicles through a network of 700 dealers in the United States.
Mitsubishi Motors sold its first vehicle in the U.S. in 1981 and began building cars here in 1988 at its manufacturing facility in Normal, IL.