The third round of the Chinese Rally Championship, Rally Fogang is underway with Dean and co-driver Chris Murphy sitting in 4th place at the end of day 1.
Situated in Guangdong Province, in the south-east of China, Fogang is approximately 200km north of Subaru Rally Team’s base in Shenzen. A slightly different style of rally, Fogang presented the crews with a combination of gravel and cement roads.
“We’ve had a reasonably good day today”, Dean commented after Saturday’s eight stages. “The stages have been quite tricky. They’re fairly narrow and there was a fair amount of dirt and rubbish pulled onto the corners after the first run of stages. We had to be quite careful during the afternoon loop (of stages).”
“We struggled a little bit in the morning loop, but during service we made some changes to the car, and it worked really well in the afternoon. We narrowed the gap to the top three, and although we lost 3rd gear on the second-last stage, the car was much better. The boys will replace the gearbox tonight, and see what we can do tomorrow to make up some more time”.
One aspect of Fogang that caught out a few crews was the intense heat. Nial McShea, driving for the FCACA team in place of Kiwi regular Tony Green, had been running second early in the day. But as the temperatures inside the cars climbed, the Irish driver struggled to cope in the difficult physical conditions. He was forced to retire at the end of stage six, he and his dehydrated co-driver taken to hospital as a precaution. The heat is also thought to have effected Red River driver Xu, who crashed out of the event during the afternoon stages.
At the top of the time sheets, it’s been a battle between English brothers David and Mark Higgins, with David claiming day 1 honours for the South East Automotive 10000 team, Mark and former WRC co-driver Nicky Grist in second place, and Finn Jussi Valimaki in the final podium position.
Rally Fogang wraps up on Sunday, with the crews contesting a further six stages before the podium presentation at the International Garden Spa Hotel.
Rally Fogang – Day 1 Results (Unofficial)
1. David Higgins, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9
2. Mark Higgins, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, +1:03.7
3. Jussi Valimaki, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, +1:18.6
4. Dean Herridge, Subaru Impreza WRX STi, +1:37.8
5. Lui Cao Dong, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9, 2:09.2
6. Han Han, Subaru Impreza WRX STi, +2:32.1