Higgins Chooses Wrong Tires for His Subaru WRX STI; It Costs Him 7th Win In-a-Row
The only thing that’s different between the two factory rally-prepared 2017 Subaru WRX STIs is the livery on the outside. Pastrana’s STI has a signature green livery, and Higgins' livery gives a nod to his homeland, the Isle of Man. There’s only one other difference and that’s the tires the drivers can choose on a particular stage. Early on in the race, Pastrana chose the right tires and Higgins chose wrong and it could have cost him his seventh win in-a-row.
Travis Pastrana and co-driver Robbie Durant in the #199 2017 WRX STI lead from the first stage at the Oregon Trail Rally this weekend and never looked back. Their lead was slim over teammate David Higgins and co-driver Craig Drew in the #75 WRX STI, but it was enough for the duo. Higgins has been on fire and had won the previous six Oregon Trail Rally events in a row, but Pastrana wasn’t going to let him make it number seven.
The Oregon Trail Rally is extra challenging because it comprises mixed surface stages, and the drivers see both gravel and multiple tarmac stages throughout the rally. Last year, Higgins beat Pastrana by just 9.5 seconds, but Pastrana held off Higgins this year and won by 10.5 seconds.
Pastrana beats Higgins with a tire choice gamble
It all could have come down to one tire choice gamble by Pastrana that payed off. Early in the event, where there’s both mixed tarmac and dirt stages at the Portland International Raceway, Pastrana made the choice to use stickier tarmac tires, whereas Higgins opted for gravel tires better suited for dirt.
The gamble paid off big and Pastrana jumped to a 12.7 second lead which he never relinquished throughout the rally. Pastrana would go fastest on eleven stages while Higgins went fastest on five stages with the final gap of just 10.5 seconds separating the two WRX STIs after over 100 miles of stages.
Pastrana says, “He (Higgins) was undefeated here, and had won here the last six years in a row, so we had to be perfect and go all-out to beat him.” Pastrana and Higgins in their identical 2017 Subaru WRX STIs are now tied atop the ARA Driver’s Championship standings. Next up for Subaru Rally Team USA is the first round of the 2017 Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship with factory drivers Chris Atkinson and Patrik Sandell, April 28-29 at Memphis International Speedway. Stay tuned.
Photo credit: Subaru Motorsports