ProRally: Ojibwe Forests: Mitsubishi preview

Ojibwe Forests ProRally Event Location: The 2003 Ojibwe Forests ProRally will be held in the scenic 10,000 Lakes region near Bemidji, Minnesota Stages: The ProRally route will be about 375 miles long, with 125 stage miles divided into 15 ...

Ojibwe Forests ProRally

Event Location: The 2003 Ojibwe Forests ProRally will be held in the scenic 10,000 Lakes region near Bemidji, Minnesota

Stages: The ProRally route will be about 375 miles long, with 125 stage miles divided into 15 special stages. The route will travel through the White Earth, Two Inlets, Smoky Hills and Paul Bunyan State Forests, as well as Beltrami, Becker, Clearwater and Hubbard Counties of northern Minnesota. The road surfaces vary from sandy and flat to twisty and hard-packed. There are no paved stages. Most of this year's Ojibwe Forests ProRally will be run at night!

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HIGGINS/BARRITT SET TO WIN IT ALL
Mitsubishi on verge of clinching the SCCA ProRally National Championship

Cypress, Calif (August 8, 2003)-Everyone thought David Higgins was on a tear last season when he took the overall SCCA ProRally national championship title by winning four events in a row and finishing on the podium six-out-of-nine times. But that string pales in comparison to his performance this season. Higgins and co-driver Daniel Barritt, driving one of the two Open-class, works Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America Lancer Evolutions, remains unbeaten on the gravel and dirt forest roads that have made up the five ProRally venues this year.

Higgins' only non-podium finish was the International Hillclimb sprint to the top of Pikes Peak in June, where mechanical troubles doused their perfect record. But with wins at the Oregon Trail ProRally and Maine Forest ProRally bolstering confidence after Pikes Peak, Higgins and the rest of Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America now set their sights on the demanding forest roads near Bemidji, Minnesota, that make up the Ojibwe Forests ProRally (August 1-2).

Higgins has more than a 50 point lead coming into Ojibwe. A podium-finish all but secures both he and Barritt the SCCA ProRally Overall Driver/Co-Driver title. In fact, for all practical purposes, the moment the red-and-silver Lancer Evolution with the number "1" on the door rockets away from the first stage, the race for the championship is all but over. The only possible title contender is teammate and top placed American Lauchlin O 'Sullivan who sits second overall. O'Sullivan and his co-driver Christian Edstrom will spend the final three events of the season fending off fellow American Tim O'Neil who sits 3rd in the points.

Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America, which Mitsubishi assembled just months before the start of the 2003 ProRally season, has performed flawlessly and their new Open Class 2003 Lancer Evolutions have been the most reliable rally cars in the championship thus far. A similar performance at the Ojibwe Forests ProRally will reward Mitsubishi Motors North America with their first SCCA ProRally Manufacturer's Championship.

"The incredible power and poise of our new Lancer Evolution has given Mitsubishi Motors North America a dream season in SCCA ProRally this year," says Pierre Gagnon, chairman and CEO, Mitsubishi Motors North America. "As we approach our first national Manufacturers' Championship, we are thrilled for the opportunity to create a new North American chapter to Mitsubishi Motor's legendary racing heritage."

Reflecting on what has brought him so near the championship this year, defending SCCA ProRally National Driver Champion Higgins feels the 400-plus horsepower, all-wheel-drive Lancer Evolutions are "far more agile and balanced" than the privateer Subaru WRX that he drove last year. "The Evo looks bigger [than the Subaru] from the outside," says Higgins, "But it doesn't feel that way behind the wheel."

O'Sullivan, who won the SCCA ProRally two-wheel-drive championship for Mitsubishi last year and now pilots the team's other race-prepped all-wheel-drive Lancer Evolution, agrees: "These cars are very predictable, with tremendous power and traction on tap," says O'Sullivan. "It feels great to throw them around in the heat of competition."

-Mitsubishi-

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Tim O'Neil , David Higgins , Daniel Barritt