RALLY: ProRally: Susquehannock Trail: Final report

SCCA® ProRallysm Round 5 - Susquehannock Trail Unstoppable David Higgins earns 4th consecutive big win. WELLSBORO, Pennsylvania The 26th SCCA Susquehannock Trail ProRally came to an eminently satisfying conclusion in the early hours of...

SCCA® ProRallysm Round 5 - Susquehannock Trail

Unstoppable David Higgins earns 4th consecutive big win.

WELLSBORO, Pennsylvania The 26th SCCA Susquehannock Trail ProRally came to an eminently satisfying conclusion in the early hours of Sunday morning for David Higgins and exactly half of the 88 car starting grid that managed to find their way back to the host city, the balance falling victim to either mechanical woes or this storied event's fast and demanding roads. The weather stayed calm and clear, a far cry from last year's torrential downpours, keeping rally speeds, and rally fans attention, way up.

Key Notes:

*Excited fans packed the dense Pennsylvania woods from start to finish, and David Higgins, the soft spoken young man from England, with diminutive fellow countryman David Barritt co-driving, drove a flawless rally, keeping a resurgent Mark Lovell, the SCCA ProRally defending champion, at bay for the entire duration of this grueling event. Early on it appeared this rally might be Hyundai's big weekend, with David's brother Mark setting a blistering pace, or for Subaru, teams having challenging first halves of the season, were both back in top form. None of this mattered to the two Davids, who kept their focus on the road ahead, motored swiftly to the front early on, and stayed there.

* Electrifying stage times were set in the Pennsylvania forests due, in no small part, to 75 teams using stage notes. On the 5.96 mile Water Crossing stage alone, seven teams beat the record time of 5:25 set last year by Seamus Burke--including Mark Higgins, who did so by a blazing 24 seconds, posting an average speed on that stage of 71.4 miles per hour.

* Subaru's frustrating rallying luck continued as Ramana Lagemann's car had complete brake failure late in the evening. Team manager David Campion wisely chose to park Lagemann rather than risk a crash, banking on Lovell's fierce but calculating drive to bring home a fine finish - which he did, along with much needed manufacturer and driver championship points.

* The Mitsubishi camp battled some early overheating problems in Rhys Millen's all new Lancer Evolution VII, the car steadily improving throughout the event, helping him secure a solid 5th overall finish, and much needed Drivers and Manufacturers points. Lauchlin O'Sullivan continues to build on his lead in Group 2, the US spec two wheel drive Lancer doing exceptionally well on its first trip to northeastern US rally turf.

* Paul Choiniere earned his first finish of the season, and not a moment too early. With teammate Mark Higgins' Tiburon out with head gasket woes after setting a significant new record at the Water Crossing stage, The Libra Racing Hyundai Team threw all of its resources at ensuring a solid finish for the 8-time champion. Running a conservative, but competitive strategy, and battling some overheating woes of his own, Choiniere, with substitute co-driver John Bennie, came home in 6th.

* Mark Nelson continues to impress all as one of the fastest rising US independent drivers, who with veteran co-driver Charles Bradley bravely hanging on, banged off more than one large tree in the PA forests, finishing with a very tattered looking Lancer, but with a very respectable 3rd place overall.

* With one of the largest fields ever assembled in the US, the rapidly expanding Group N category this time was dominated by Canadian visitors - Peter Thomson and Keith Townsend, who kept the group of exotic Lancers and WRX STi's behind them the entire rally. With Gr N series regulars Peter Workum and Jason Rivas out with mechanical troubles, and Central US favorites the Krolikowskis on their roof, the tight battle for 2nd place was between 4 Subaru's - Shane Mitchell, Mark Utecht, Ralph Kosmides and Peter Malaszuk, the latter surviving a late rally roll to soldier on with a 15th place finish.

* Backfield in motion: A slew of rallyists who started towards at the back of the field showed that they have what it takes for an excellent finish at a demanding event. Eion McGeough, in PGT showed considerable moxie, rising all the way from 51st in start position to finish 9th overall. Other notables who rose up for a superb finish were: Patrick Lilly (33rd to 10th), Shane Mitchell (32nd to 11th), Lauchlin O'Sullivan (41st to 14th), Julien Pilon (55th to 18th), William Bacon (58th to 19th) and Craig Peeper (48th to 22nd).

* The Overall Manufacturers Points race has closed since Rim of the World: Hyundai is at 61 points, Subaru at 52, and Mitsubishi with 37. In the Group 2 Manufacturers Points, Mitsubishi has extended its lead considerably, now standing at 80 points with Mazda at 56.

*David Higgins' fourth straight overall victory puts him at a commanding 87 driver's points, with Mark Lovell in second at 59, Mark Higgins at 55, Mark Nelson at 37, and Rhys Millen in fifth at 33.

The SCCA name and logo is a registered trademark of the Sports Car Club of America, Inc. ProRally, ClubRally and RallyCross are service marks of the SCCA.

The SCCA ProRally Championship is presented by Hyundai, Mitsubishi and Subaru, and is televised in North America on SpeedChannel. Time and date listing information available at www.speedtv.com

-scca pro racing-

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About this article
Series SCCA
Drivers Paul Choiniere , John Bennie , Ralph Kosmides , Mark Nelson , Mark Lovell , Rhys Millen , Mark Higgins , Peter Malaszuk , Shane Mitchell , Patrick Lilly , Craig Peeper , William Bacon , David Higgins , Peter Thomson , Keith Townsend