Ten-time US Rally Champion David Higgins will make a sensational series return to top-line competition at this week’s New England Forest Rally, driving a McKenna Motorsport Ford Fiesta.
Higgins hasn’t competed since departing the Subaru Motorsports USA squad at the end of 2019. And when he does head back to Maine this weekend, he’ll have his old team directly in his sights as he looks to boost Barry McKenna’s American Rally Association presented by DirtFish National championship title hopes.
Higgins will drive the Fiesta McKenna used last season – an S2000 chassis with a two-liter World Rally Car engine fitted.
“First thing to say is that I’m really, really happy to be back and, obviously, massively grateful to Barry for the opportunity,” Higgins told DirtFish.
The Manxman has recently recovered from a bike accident which seriously injured his right leg.
“This whole thing came about a few weeks ago when I was talking to Barry and I said the recuperation wouldn’t be so bad if I had an event to focus on.
“Out of the blue, Barry asked if I’d be interested in doing New England in his car. I didn’t take long to answer. He asked how I was and how the leg was. I told him it was all good – I certainly didn’t tell him I was still on crutches!
“It’s all good now. I’m fit and I’m absolutely ready to come back. In fact, I can’t wait.”
While he hasn’t competed since signing off on his 10th US rallying crown, Higgins has continued to test cars and help develop drivers.
“I was in an R5 car not long ago,” he said. “Everything felt completely normal – it was like I’d never been out of a car.”
Stepping back into the white heat of an ARA battle will be slightly different next week.
“That first Concord [Pond] stage in NEFR is going to be something special,” said Higgins.
“It’s just a flatout blast – a lot like Finland. Going from not being in the car for almost two years to absolutely flatout in that Fiesta will be interesting!
“Basically, my job is to do what I can to help Barry. He and I have been good mates for a long time now, so I’m really pleased to have this chance to come back and drive alongside him in the team.”
Higgins, who will be co-driven by Craig Drew, confirmed the current agreement is for one rally, but he was hopeful it could lead to more seat-time in the future.
“I know I’ve still got plenty of driving left in me,” said Higgins. “I think it’s fair to say my time in ARA didn’t end exactly as I would have wanted it to – there’s more in the tank, so let’s see what we can do.”
Higgins will be shooting for a new record in NEFR, looking to become the first driver to win the Maine event six times.
McKenna is delighted to have Higgins with him.
“David Higgins is one of the most legendary names in rallying in the United States, and I couldn’t be more excited to welcome him to McKenna Motorsport,” he said.
“We’re committed to not only being the most competitive team that we can possibly be, but also strengthening the sport in America as much as possible, and having a 10-time champion in one of our cars for New England Forest Rally serves both of those goals.”