ProRally: Pikes Peak: Mitsubishi preview

David Higgins looks for his fourth win of the season at Pikes Peak The 81st annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will start Saturday morning, but the festivities have been going on all week around Colorado Springs. Thursday night brought...

David Higgins looks for his fourth win of the season at Pikes Peak

The 81st annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb will start Saturday morning, but the festivities have been going on all week around Colorado Springs. Thursday night brought rallying and motocross together for the first time in the United States. Sponsored by Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America, the event looked to draw on a big crowd already in place for the hill climb. A huge section of street was fenced off downtown as professional motocross hero Cary Hart and his crew set up for a dazzling motocross air show. Between the takeoff and landing, a gap of over seventy feet, stood three gleaming Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions, including the team's rally cars. The fans were overwhelmed as they filled every inch around the fence for a glimpse of the looming spectacle.

As Cary Hart's superstar girlfriend Pink kept an eye on the action, the motocross riders made their final preparations. As they revved their bikes, the atmosphere became tense with anticipation. The bikes soared through the air, each trick more jaw dropping than the last. The crowd erupted and flash bulbs lit up the night. It was an amazing sight that US rallying has never experienced, all while the Lancer Evolutions took center stage. An amazing night of motorsports action coupled with huge fan turnout was a recipe for success.

The real action, however, is on Pikes Peak. At over 14,000 feet, the mountain is an imposing figure. Racers have been drawn to the 12 mile road for over 80 years, this year being no exception. Thursday and Friday saw the Mitsubishi Team practicing on the lower and upper sections of the mountain. SCCA Championship points leader David Higgins set the fastest stage time on Friday and looks to continue his run of clean wins this season. Lauchlin O'Sullivan and Christian Edstrom will also be pointing their Lancer Evolution to the clouds on Saturday's race. It's a 12.42 mile charge up the hill, fastest to the top is the champion.

POST-EVENT UPDATE:
Saturday June 29th, 2003

The sport of rally racing can be fickle at times and today, that proved true. David Higgins, winner of every event in the SCCA ProRally Championship so far this season, had his first major disappointment during the 81st running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

After qualifying second in Open Class and setting the fastest time in Friday's upper section practice, Higgins gave Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America a strong hope of an outstanding finish. Higgins looked extremely fast in the early sections, in fact posting the highest trap speed of any of the SCCA entries at race mid point. Unfortunately Higgins along with co-driver Daniel Barritt began experiencing transmission problems at mid course that took them well off the competitive pace. They ascended the mountain slowly, but finished the event.

Pikes Peak's legendary challenge wasn't finished with Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America. The team's second Open Class driver, Lauchlin O'Sullivan, had an incident on a right hand turn also near midway. The left rear of the car was slightly damaged, but he was able to continue his aggressive pace, pushing towards the summit. Lauchlin and Christian were fast and looked to be on pace with the other Open Class SCCA ProRally cars, until a cooling problem and eventual engine failure forced the young team to retire from the race with the summit a mere half mile away.

"Today proves that rally racing has always been, and will continue to be, extremely challenging. Even with the finest equipment, the finest technicians, and a proven race strategy, you are always at the mercy of racing luck, especially at a legendary venue such as Pikes Peak" said Dick Kelley, Motor Sports Manager, Mitsubishi Motors North America. "However, today also reveals what an impressive achievement Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America has accomplished with three consecutive wins this season."

With the Oregon Trails SCCA ProRally, the fifth rally this season only two weeks away, the team looks to regain its momentum and focus on continuing its domination of the season.

In spite of today's result, Pikes Peak has given David Higgins the opportunity to fine tune the car's handling. "I am now more comfortable with the car at high speeds on gravel," said Higgins. "With Oregon being a high speed gravel event, this newfound knowledge will allow me to really take advantage of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions tremendous abilities."

Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America will next tackle the fast gravel roads near Portland, Oregon at the Oregon Trails SCCA ProRally on July 12th.

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About this article
Series Hillclimb , SCCA
Drivers Christian Edstrom , David Higgins , Daniel Barritt