Olympia, Wash. -- As the last few cars rolled over the ceremonial bridge start at St. Martin's College at twilight, two things became apparent. Team Mitsubishi Motorsports America driver David Higgins, winner of six out of seven events so far this...
Olympia, Wash. -- As the last few cars rolled over the ceremonial bridge start at St. Martin's College at twilight, two things became apparent. Team Mitsubishi Motorsports America driver David Higgins, winner of six out of seven events so far this season, will be hard pressed to grab win number seven and two, weather will play a factor in deciding the outcome.
Two new teams are set to challenge Higgins this weekend, both having drivers who have extensive World Rally Championship experience. Finland's Pasi Hagstromm and co-driver Marko Taskinen have joined Subaru Rally Team USA in effort to finish 2003 in strong fashion. Hagstromm is a former Finnish National Rally Champion and is slated to be the first car out after drawing the top spot in Friday's seed zero, open-class draw.
Also joining the SCCA Championship for the first time is the Italian privateer duo, Alfredo De Dominicis and co-driver Danilo Fappani. The Italian pair are ready to go after Friday's shakedown stage as well they should be considering they were one of the first three cars to enter the final practice session which meant ample time to dial in their car.
As the weekend draws closer, the chance of rain appears to be increasing for overnight Saturday and most of Sunday. While National Weather forecasts did not put a percentage on the chance of rain, it did say that precipitation was likely. Temperatures are also forecast to drop from the mid 80s to the upper 60s by Sunday. This means that drivers and teams will have to battle not only each other this weekend, but a combination of weather elements as well and correct set ups will be critical in determining a winner.
* Daniel Barritt, Higgins' teammate and co-driver, has battled the flu for the past three days, but improved significantly Friday and should be ready to go early Saturday morning.
* Air Force Reserve Driver Tim O'Neil's Ford Focus suffered a punctured radiator after a limb sticking out from a tree tore through his bumper and blasted the radiator during Thursday's practice run. The Air Force Reserve crew was able to fix all damage and the car should be ready to go.
* Due to fire danger in the area, Saturday's schedule has been amended so that the first two special stages will begin at 8:30 a.m., followed by a break from 1-8 p.m., then followed by three more stages at night.
* Hagstromm's 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX is scheduled to start the day's stages at 8:30 a.m. sharp.
-scca pro rally-