Higgins ends the 2003 season on top, winning LSPR. It was the end of a remarkable journey, a journey that started and ended here in Michigan. From snow in early January until the late fall of this weekend, Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America ...
Higgins ends the 2003 season on top, winning LSPR.
It was the end of a remarkable journey, a journey that started and ended here in Michigan. From snow in early January until the late fall of this weekend, Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America showed it's mettle and determination, ending as true champions: on the podium and solidly in first place. David Higgins, 2003 Driver's Champion, capped an epic year with his seventh victory of the season here at the Lake Superior ProRally, making it seven wins from nine events for Higgins and his Michelin shod Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.
On the second day of action in Michigan's Upper Peninsula Higgins battled back and fourth with new Subaru driver Pasi Hagstrom. The two were virtually tied after 9 stages of racing, and continued their newfound rivalry throughout the day.
Higgins fought through a series of problems though, culminating with a transmission failure on the last stage. With the car stuck in third gear, teammate Lauchlin O'Sullivan came to the rescue, towing him to the finish.
"We stopped on the road section right after the end of the last stage and waited for Lauchlin to come driving by so we could wave him down and get a tow, he played a quick joke on us though and as he drove by acted like he didn't realize that we needed his help! I thought he was going to continue driving by and leave us stranded, but it he pulled over soon after he saw the look on my face." laughed Higgins' co-driver Daniel Barritt.
Higgins was his usual modest self after the race. Looking back, he noted, "It's been a brilliant year, fantastic to win seven rallies in one season, quite an achievement." He was equally straightforward in his goals for next season: "I want to win as many rallies as I enter, win the Driver's Championship, and I want to do it with Mitsubishi."
Also to be congratulated is Christian Edstrom. By locking up second in the Co-Driver's Championship, he helps put the Mitsubishi team in 1st and 2nd in the driving and co-driving championships in both the Overall standings and Open Class.
However it was not easy by any means. Lauchlin O'Sullivan, who drove consistantly as he has done all season, had continuous small troubles throughout the day. It all started on Saturday's first stage, when a hard landing punctured the radiator. With coolant leaking, O'Sullivan and Edstrom continued onward, adding water as necessary. This saved the engine and brought them safely to service where the crew quickly replaced the damaged components.
In addition, O'Sullivan had a driveshaft failure, but was never deterred. The pair kept pace and achieved their goal.
One and Two in the Driver's Championship, One and Two in the Co-Driver's Championship. "You couldn't wish for a better result, so I think we have a lot to live up to next year. I'm thrilled for 2004," said Edstrom at the finish.
The year has gone by quickly. From the team's inception to its current place atop the SCCA ProRally series, Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America has risen swiftly. Through great driving from Champions David Higgins and Lauchlin O'Sullivan and their respective co-drivers, to all the team technicians who worked tirelessly on the cars, and finally to the management who made it all possible. The team will now take the off-season to develop and prepare their attack on the 2004 SCCA ProRally Championship.