David Higgins has revealed that he and Subaru team mate Patrik Sandell had discussed a plan of action for the final of the Americas Rallycross season opener at Silverstone, although the pair collided on the opening lap.
The incident led to Higgins retiring with suspension failure, while Sandell battled back for an eventual fourth place finish.
A broken clutch had already left the Manx driver on the back foot going into the main event, and while trying to get round a sliding Sandell at the first corner he hit the Swede, sending him into a spin.
“Me and Patrik had spoke before the race that he was going to go for the inside line, that he was going to hook the inside all the way round,” Higgins revealed. “I was then going to try and go for the outside but going into turn one he got a massive slide going wide and I though maybe he had some damage to his car or something because then going into turn two there was a gap on the inside.”
“I started to go for the gap and then he obviously come for his line and I hit him, put him into a spin, but then as he’s spinning he keeps his foot on the power and came out, hit me and broke my rear suspension,” he said.
The suspension damage brought an early end to Higgins’ race at an event where he had shown strong pace.
“Sometimes you can do those races and carry on and get by but as soon as I hit the jump, something must’ve moved as I was jumping,” said Higgins. “I had already pitched the car into a slide over the jump but that was it.”
“It’s certainly not the way we wanted to go as a team. We’d talked about the plan of what we were going to do which just didn’t happen unfortunately. I look like the bad guy for hitting him going into the corner, but the door was so massively open I though he had a problem.”
Higgins’ appearance at the first round of the 2018 ARX season was the latest in a long line of rallycross guest appearances for the multiple US rally champion, but it was the first time he’s been able to compete in a current-spec car.
“Obviously the other guys have done a lot of testing beforehand and I didn’t so I started with a base setup of what they’ve got. All three of us have slightly different driving styles, we want something slightly different, so it really took until Sunday morning for me to get the car dialled to how I wanted it,” he said. “We made some changes and then I changed a few little things, I did a bit of a compromise. We didn’t change the car a hundred percent to my style, I changed, a bit of a 50-50.”
“It worked well, but just time in the car and getting to know different setups because I don’t have the experience of it, you’re second guessing a bit,” Higgins added. “It’s a different category. I’m used to doing one corner once on a rally, here you’re doing them multiple times and my opening time on the cold tyres I feel way more comfortable, but then it’s trying to replicate that lap after lap. It’s just very different.”
Higgins’ attention now returns to the American Rally Association series and the Susquehannok Trail Performance Rally – an event he has won seven times previously. Higgins’ main focus for the season is the ARA championship, and he said that he’s unsure if he’ll continue in ARX in 2018.
“It hasn’t been spoken about so we’ll see,” he said about the possibility of further rallycross outings this year. “I like doing it, I enjoy the rallycross, plus I like the way the team’s had to work so hard for it, so we’ll see how it goes. My focus now is next weekend’s STPR and then we’ll see what happens after that.”