Higgins never trailed in the rally even when he shot off the road at high speed and bent his rear control arms. The team managed to finish the stage and hobbled to the service for repairs.
“I thought I was done for when I went off,” said Higgins, “But my team got me back on the road. I couldn’t have done it without them. I ‘m so proud to win four Oregon Trail Rallies. I’m getting up there with Ken Block in wins at single events!” said Higgins.
Notably, Higgins’ closest rival, the Rockstar Energy Drink Rally Team’s Antoine L’Estage and Nathalie Richard, needed to bounce back from a DNF suffered at the second round of the Rally American National Championship. At the Oregon Trail Rally the team dogged Higgins until a few turns into stage 7 the car stopped. They were unable to continue and a second DNF severely complicated their chances for another Rally America title.
The overall podium and class podiums were graced by many new Rally America drivers and teams.
Canadian Rally Championship regular, Leonid Urlichlich with Carl Williamson drove their 2007 Subaru STI to second place overall for his first American podium finish 4:25.9 minutes behind Higgins.
2011 Rally America Rookie of the Year Adam Yeoman with co-driver Jordan Shulze proudly stepped up to the overall podium by finishing third for the first time in his Rally America career. He finished 10:20.2 minutes behind Higgins.
The Super Production (SP) Class was won by Belgium Group N Champ, David Sterckx with co-driver Karen Jankowski for their first SP podium in just three U.S. events. Sterckx edged local Hood River driver, Dave Henderson with Terrence McDowell, by 30.9 seconds. This was Henderson’s first 2nd place podium in his SP Class car.
Chris and Lori O’Driscoll rounded out the SP Class podium finishing 7 minutes 52 seconds from the class leader.
In their first American competition, Australians Will Orders and Toni Feaver battled furiously to win the Two Wheel Drive (2WD) Class by 1:44.3 over 2WD regulars Andrew Comrie-Picard and Jeremy Wimpey. It was a close competition between Orders and Comrie-Picard until the longer, faster stages on day 3 gave the Nissan-driving Australians an advantage.
“It’s amazing. The Nissan was so fast out here and the roads were incredible,” exclaimed Orders, “I can’t wait for the next round at the STPR Rally.”
Edward McNelly and Ole Holter bounced back after a rollover in Missouri last February to complete the 2WD podium in their 2011 Ford Fiesta R2 and their first podium this season.
2WD is proving to be highly competitive during this year’s Rally America National Championship. Will Orders finished 4th overall and Andrew Comrie-Picard took 5th overall, beating the more powerful 4WD machines in the process.
Adam Yeoman was the only American-born driver in the top five joined by a Manxman, Australian and two Canadians.
The Oregon Trail Rally, the third round of the Rally America National Championship, was once again a notoriously tough three-day event that began at Portland International Raceway for a fan- friendly, four-stage night. The event moved to the fast, sweeping farmland and roads near The Dalles and Dufur, situated under Mt. Hood for Saturday and Sunday.
All three days of the Oregon Trail Rally was broadcast online at www.rally-america.com covering parc exposes, service areas and multiple stages for fans not able to attend the event in person.