Higgins wins Rally of Wales

New signing Mark Higgins led home a Vauxhall one-two on the Rally of Wales last weekend, round one of this year's British Championship.

Higgins wins Rally of Wales

The Manxman, who won the British title in 1997, said: "It was a good steady run. I didn't take too many risks and tried to push wherever I could. On the second day it was quite icy, so I backed off."

Team mate Neil Wearden finished second, nearly two minutes behind Higgins. Wearden had not quite been able to match the other Vauxhall's pace throughout the two-day event, but had his chances severely compromised by a puncture on stage five.

Former Production Cup champion Marko Ipatti was third, despite suffering turbo problems on his Group N Mitsubishi Lancer throughout the first day.

The Finn led home former SEAT works driver Mike Brown, and former Junior champion Stuart Egglestone. All were driving Mistubishi Lancers ñ proof of the strong Group N entry for the event.

Reigning British Champion Tapio Laukkanen sensationally crashed out of the lead of the rally on stage two.

"It was a really stupid thing," said the Volkswagen driver. "Coming out a first gear hairpin bend I clipped the bank and rolled into a ditch. It was my fault."
The first victim of the event was last year's Production Cup champion David Higgins.

The Peugeot driver was the victim of a 100mph accident at the very end of stage one. Higgins, who escaped with bruises, reckoned something had broken on his new 106 Super GTI.

By the end of stage two his team mate Justin Dale had retired as well. The reigning Super 1600 champion set fastest time in class over the first stage, but had to watch his engine go up in smoke on the following test.

This left the way clear for Mats Andersson to claim Super 1600 honours in the works Proton Satria. The Swede had a trouble-free run to 10th overall.

Other notable retirements included Jarmo Kytolehto, whose Hyundai retired with engine problems in stage nine, and Toyota driver Jonny Milner, who burnt out a wiring loom on stage six. Former Volkswagen driver Neil Simpson did not even manage to complete stage one in his new Mitsubishi, due to a blown turbo.

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