Albatec Racing has confirmed triple British Rally Champion Mark Higgins for at least the opening two rounds of the 2018 Toyo Tires MSA British Rallycross Championship in the Albatec with NCME Peugeot 208 RX Supercar.
Albatec and the National Centre for Motorsport Engineering (NCME) have announced a collaborative partnership that aims to provide career development opportunities for the next generation of motorsport engineers. The collaboration will see NCME and Albatec work together in partnership to provide an unrivalled experience for students studying Motorsport and Automotive Performance Engineering at the University of Bolton, both in class and on-event.
Higgins will work with the students from NCME and the Albatec team when he makes his rallycross debut in the opening round of British RX at Silverstone on 17 March. The Manxman, who now lives in Powys, Wales has plenty of supercar experience under his belt; he’s the fastest man on four wheels around the iconic Isle of Man TT Mountain Course and the stunt driver for Daniel Craig’s last three James Bond films, among others.
In March, he swaps 007’s Aston Martin DB10 for Albatec’s 600bhp turbocharged Peugeot 208 RX Supercar for testing ahead of the season opener in Northamptonshire, and will also compete in round two at the spiritual home of rallycross, Lydden Hill, Kent, in April. No stranger to rallycross, Higgins has already driven an RX150 buggy taking victory in the B Final at Pembrey back in 2009, and is relishing the prospect of making his Supercar debut in British RX while plans are afoot to extend that to Silverstone’s FIA World Rallycross Championship round in May.
Andy Scott, Team Principal Albatec Racing:
“We’re excited to have Mark join our programme. Albatec has a reputation for running high-calibre drivers, both on events and in testing, and it’s always an absolute pleasure working with such professional drivers. Mark comes with a fantastic pedigree of three British rally titles and numerous China Rally victories under his belt, so there is no doubt about his ability and speed. But, as Petter (Solberg) and Sebastien (Loeb) can verify, adapting from rally to rallycross can take some time, so we need to get him up to speed on the intricacies of the Peugeot 208 RX Supercar and the sport.
“It’s particularly good to bring him into the British Rallycross Championship which is steadily increasing in stature, in parallel with the FIA and European World Rallycross Championships. Having Mark on board will help his path of development in rallycross and will lift the profile of BRX further. We have managed to secure the budget for Mark to contest the opening two rounds of British RX, and are currently working hard to ensure he can complete the entire season. We are also working towards securing the budget for him to compete at the UK’s only round of World RX, SpeedMachine at Silverstone on 26 & 27 May.”
Dr. Mark Busfield, Director, National Centre for Motorsport Engineering:
“I’m really excited with this opportunity to include Mark as our driver for this wonderful programme. Mark brings a wealth of experience and his proven expertise gives us a great opportunity in the British Rallycross Championship.
“I last worked with Mark in the year 2000 when he was our lead driver in the Vauxhall Rally project that I was Project Manager for; starting this relationship again rekindles some excellent memories, and I see Mark as focused now as he was back then. Mark will also add valuable technical input to the car development helping Andy in his FIA European Rallycross programme.”
Mark Higgins, Albatec Racing driver:
“This is a really great opportunity and one that I’m very excited about. I’d been talking to Andy and Albatec for a while about having a test but our diaries kept clashing. They’re a great team, probably the premier team in the UK with a proven, successful car and at this stage in my life I’ve learnt there’s only one way to do something, and that’s properly. The personnel involved with the project, like Andy Scott and Mark Busfield means we start from a strong position but I’m also excited about helping to develop the car not just for the British series but European and World Championships too.
“Having the NCME at University of Bolton on board is great, the entire project just seemed to tick all the right boxes. It’s a very exciting programme from every aspect and one that we can really get our teeth into. I’ve spent a lot of time testing cars for manufacturers, and working with the students to develop the Peugeot is one of the elements I’m looking forward to the most. The car is already at a very good level, so working with the students will be really exciting to see if we can get the march on the other teams. I’ve really missed rallying in Britain, so I’m very pleased to be competing in the UK again in an environment where hopefully a lot of people can support us. The competition is fierce in British RX, they go in pretty hard, and I’m not going into it too confidently, but I’m certainly not going there just to make up the numbers.”