Higgins takes Jim Clark on tie break. Mark Higgins came from behind to win the 2006 Jim Clark International Rally after tying with Rory Galligan on stage times after 140 miles of some of the closest rallying seen in a very long time. After the...
Higgins takes Jim Clark on tie break.
Mark Higgins came from behind to win the 2006 Jim Clark International Rally after tying with Rory Galligan on stage times after 140 miles of some of the closest rallying seen in a very long time.
After the opening round of the 2006 Tesco 99 Octane MSA British Rally Championship some sceptics wondered if the strong start would continue through to round 2. Well after the frantic on stage action from this weekend most of those sceptics will have been proved wrong. Even having to essentially play second fiddle to the Irish boys in their World Rally Cars didn't stop the British Championship contenders from putting on a sterling show.
The opening 12.7 miler saw Guy Wilks top the times for the first time this year, going 1.5 seconds quicker than Mark Higgins and proving in the process that the Super 1600 cars can be a viable competitor to the Group N Mitsubishis and Subaru's. The fight for 3rd was between Rory Galligan and Roman Kresta, with Galligan having gone 2.3 seconds faster than the M-Sport test driver.
Stage 2 saw Galligan go quickest, 1.5 seconds quicker than Higgins whilst Wilks struggled in the slightly damp conditions and could only manage 11th quickest over the stage.
Stage 3 was the first run around the short spectator stage called Langton Park and Galligan once more went quicker than Higgins. but only by a mere 1 second meaning he was now tied with Mark Higgins as the cars headed back to first service. Guy Wilks was still 3rd overall and only a further 3 seconds behind.
With the same 3 stages run again conditions were expected to be a bit more tricky as over 150 cars had been through the stages, resulting in a lot of gravel having been pulled onto the roads in some places.
Galligan and Wilks set equally fastest time over the second running of Abbey St Bathans, a full 8 seconds quicker than on their first run through. Higgins was 3rd, dropping nearly 4 seconds to the pair ahead.
Galligan then went a whole 6 seconds faster over the next stage to enter the second running of Langton with a 9 second lead over Higgins and Wilks, who were tied for 2nd. However an over exuberant exit from the Langton Ford saw him spin, costing him most of his lead and meant the rally returned to Kelso at the end of Day 1 with Galligan leading Mark Higgins by the slim margin of 0.7 seconds! 3rd overall was still Guy Wilks but he was now 10 seconds behind the leaders but another 10 ahead of Ryan Champion, who led the chasing pack.
Day 2 began with a charge from Gwyndaf Evans, who kick started the days proceedings with a time 1.3 seconds faster than Galligans, and 2.5 quicker than Higgins.
Stage 8, Whiteadder, featured possibly the longest river crossing in the whole championship. Apart from a few unusual lines through the ford most of the top contenders got through cleanly. However Roman Kresta endured a frustrating time when his car drowned in the ford, costing him over 4 minutes and any chance of a top result.
2 more stage wins in a row for Rory Galligan gave the Irishman a slender lead of 7 seconds over Mark Higgins, whilst Ryan Champion and Gwyndaf Evans had overhauled Guy Wilks to lie 3rd and 4th respectively. The Welshman's hopes of a 2nd consecutive podium were dashed when the rear diff on his Mitsubishi Evo 9 broke on Stage 12, ending his fine run.
Stage 14 saw the current championship leader, Ryan Champion, take his first fastest stage time of the event as he set about opening the gap between himself and Guy Wilks Suzuki. Meanwhile ahead of him the gap between Galligan and Higgins remained constant at just under 10 seconds.
Stage 16, Little Swinton 1, would be the turning point of the rally. A stage known for its notorious jumps it involved a lot of commitment, and commitment was something Mark Higgins had in no short supply and duly flew through the stage to go 6 seconds quicker than Galligan, thus reducing his lead to a mere 3 seconds with 5 stages still to go!
Galligan responded by going quicker through the next 2 stages, taking 5 seconds back. Stage 19, the 4th running through Langton saw Mark Higgins go quickest from Galligan with double champion Jonny Milner, currently having a conservative run just inside the top 10, going 3rd quickest in the stage.
Higgins went quickest once more through the penultimate stage meaning that 4.1 seconds separated Rory Galligans Mitsubishi Evo IX from Mark Higgins Subaru Impreza N12.Incredibly Higgins went 11 seconds faster through the final stage on his 2nd run, stopping the clocks exactly 4.1 seconds faster than Galligan meaning the pair returned to Kelso tied on overall stage times after 140 miles of rallying!
Due to a tie breaker ruling that the winner would be whoever had gone quicker through the opening stage this meant that Mark Higgins was classified as the winner of the 2006 Jim Clark International Rally!
Rory drove a brilliant rally this weekend and to be honest I drove as fast as I could over the last couple of stages. My commiserations to Rory as its never nice to loose out on a tie breaker but I am dead chuffed to get this win after the misfortunes I had on the last day of the Pirelli.
3rd overall went to the Pirelli Rally winner Ryan Champion who, considering his relative lack of tarmac experience was dead pleased with how his rally had gone. 4th was Guy Wilks, who had shown that the S1600 cars can be competitive. It's been a good fight against the GpN cars. We top out at about 110mph where they have about 125mph to play with so you can see where they make the time up, especially with all these long straights.
Jonny Milner endured a heart breaking end to his rally after breaking his suspension and then snapping a rear driveshaft in different stages of the afternoon, dropping him from a points scoring position to the lower reaches of the leader board.
Another driver to suffer was former British champion David Higgins, whose rally ended with a big crash in stage 12, whilst Justin Dale, in the giant killing Renault Clio coasted to a halt with a broken gearbox 3 stages from the end!
Next up is the Rally Isle of Man which runs from 3rd to 5th August. <pre> Final Results Mark Higgins Subaru Impreza N12 2:09:27.3 Rory Galligan Mitsubishi Evo IX 2:09:27:3 Ryan Champion Mitsubishi Evo IX 2:10:12:2 Guy Wilks Suzuki Ignis S1600 2:10:24:4 Stuart Jones Mitsubishi Evo IX 2:12:43:2
Current Championship Points Mark Higgins 55 Ryan Champion 52 Stuart Jones 34 Conrad Rautenbach 32 Jonny Milner 27