Higgins Surging After Slow Start, Holding Off Lagemann Bemidji, Minn. -- After losing a minute and dropping from first to third place after Special Stage Four, thanks to a punctured tire and subsequent flat, Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America...
Higgins Surging After Slow Start, Holding Off Lagemann
Bemidji, Minn. -- After losing a minute and dropping from first to third place after Special Stage Four, thanks to a punctured tire and subsequent flat, Team Mitsubishi Motor Sports America Driver David Higgins powered his way back to the front by the end of day one of the Ojibwe Forests ProRally, Round Seven of the 2003 SCCA ProRally Championship.
Higgins drove on the flat for almost six miles on SS3, dropping from the top spot he had earned after starting fourth. He also sustained damage to the left front of his bumper and fender after the tire came apart. However, his crew replaced the bumper during a two-hour service area after SS4.
Subaru Rally Team USA Driver Ramana Lagemann, badly needing a solid event, sits second overall after seven stages, six seconds behind Higgins. Lagemann was exceptionally consistent on every stage Friday, posting the fastest stage time on SS5 and the second-fastest times on every other stage.
Team Mitsubishi's Lauchlin O'Sullivan took advantage of Higgins' flat tire and posted the fastest time on SS4 by 14 seconds, which briefly gave him the lead going into service. At the end of SS7, Sullivan was nine seconds behind Lagemann and 15 seconds in back of Higgins.
Air Force Reserve Driver Tim O'Neil and Barry Johnson (who is in his very first USA Rally event, coming over from the British Rally Championship), are in fourth and fifth, respectively.
Following up an impressive first-place class finish at Maine Forest, FIA Group N competitor Julian Reynolds is setting himself up for a repeat with Friday's performance, finishing the day in sixth place overall and first in Group N. Class point leader Mark Utecht is second, 1:26 behind Reynolds and ninth overall. Shane Mitchell, who is just behind Utecht in points, is seven seconds behind Utecht.
Doug Shepherd turned in a great Friday performance in his Dodge SRT-4 and holds a 1:11 advantage over his Dodge teammate, Brian Vinson in Group 5. Shepherd is currently just outside the top 10, almost two minutes behind Mitchell. Vinson is 15th overall.
Matt Johnson leads Chris Whiteman's Dodge Neon by 50 seconds heading into day two. Johnson sits 16th overall and is paired with co-driver Dave Kean for the first time ever. Kean is the usual co-driver for Chris Havas, a Group 5 competitor who is not entered this weekend.
Lithuanian PGT regular Valdemaras Maciukevicius, leads the class by 13 seconds over Dave Lafavor, even though Maciukevicius incurred a 12-second penalty after a late check-in.
Mike Halley entered the field as one of two Production Class entries (Jake Himes the other) and only has to finish the rally to win the class after Himes rolled his car Friday on SS5. Halley, in his Volkswagen New Beetle, has enough points that he will wrap up the Donison Cup (top Production Driver) by starting either Wild West or at the Lake Superior ProRally.
The second and final day of the Ojibwe Forests ProRally is set to begin at 4:45 p.m. (approx.) following the parc expose from 3:00 p.m. to 4. Final news and results will be released as soon as they are made available and can be seen at www.scca.com.
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