Network Q Rally GB 2000 November 23/November 26 Day 4 - End of Rally, after 17 stages Total stage distance: 380.80kms
Vauxhall Motorsport's Mark Higgins took Formula 2 class honours today (Sunday, 26 November) on this year's Network Q Rally of Great Britain, the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship. @! Higgins was on track for a top 20 finish yesterday before a spin on stage 13 (Margam) left him running in overall 23rd place but still holding the overnight lead in F2. The final day still had a few surprises in store though for Higgins and co-driver, Bryan Thomas as they rolled the Astra on stage 16, Brechfa causing significant body damage. However, a tremendous effort by the team at Pembrey service area enabled the pair to continue and complete the final stage of the rally to take the win in Formula 2.
Neil Wearden and co-driver, Trevor Agnew had an eventful rally and were also on course for a top 20 finish before coincidentally falling prey to the same stage as their team-mates on Saturday afternoon (Margam). A 360-degree spin left them down the running order overnight but in with a chance of completing a Vauxhall 1-2 in Formula 2 if Sunday's stages went well. It was not to be though and although Wearden pushed hard through the day's first two stages, he was cruelly robbed of a finish one mile from the end of the very last stage, Margam, retiring with engine trouble.
Mark Higgins' Formula 2 win in the Vauxhall Astra F2 Kit Car completes what has been a successful year for Vauxhall Motorsport, the 2000 British Rally Championship Manufacturers' Champions.
Car 27, Vauxhall Astra Kit Car
After 17 stages - 1st in F2, 32nd overall "It was really the last four stages that made the big difference, I've never really known anything like it. The trouble started on our first visit to Margam when we slid off the road. Then at the start of the final leg on Sunday we went up to the two forest stages at Brechfa and Trawscoed and that gave us more problems! I think I had the wrong tyres for Brechfa. It was very fast downhill, obviously a bit too fast, and we hit a tree stump and I put the car on its side. There was a lot of damage both to the body and the suspension, it was a bit of a struggle to get it through the next stage which was Trawscoed, and we had to get to service before we could make repairs. On the road section into service though, the police pulled us over and I had to make a few repairs myself to the car before the police deemed us road worthy. The RML guys did a fantastic job at service, taking extra time to ensure the car was absolutely safe. Going back through Margam again was a real nightmare though, there were warning lights flashing inside the car all the time, I didn't know if it was oil pressure or water temperature or just false alarms because everything was shaken up so badly. But we got through to the end, the Astra has performed brilliantly and we won F2 for Vauxhall which I'm very pleased about."
Car 29, Vauxhall Astra Kit Car
After 17 stages - Retired on stage 17 "To have got this far and have to retire on the last stage of the rally with an engine problem is obviously disappointing but this rally has been one big adventure from start to finish! I didn't have a great first leg because of my own mistakes but leg two on Saturday was looking good. I was really pushing and setting some good fast times until by coincidence, both Mark (Higgins) and I spun on the Margam stage within a mile of each other! I lost a lot of time there and needed to make up for it today. Then this morning I was the one going well and it was Mark who had a problem, rolling on stage 15. The final stage of the rally then just seemed quite incredible, Mark got through OK and I had to stop with engine trouble. But, it's just one of those things you have to accept - that's rallying!"