Mark Higgins.
Mark Higgins. Jeremy Rogers

Bond stunt driver revs up rivals

A JAMES Bond movie stunt driver stole the show with an enthralling finish to the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship round at the International Rally of Queensland in the Imbil forest yesterday.

Mark Higgins, a three-time British Rally Champion who was a stunt driver in the film Quantum of Solace, won round two of the APRC on his first attempt at the event.

With Welsh co-driver Ieuan Thomas, Higgins started the final gravel special stage just 1.4 seconds behind India’s Guarav Gill, but by the end of the 34km test had turned the deficit into a 15.8 second winning margin.

Katsu Taguchi, the defending Asia Pacific champion from Japan, finished third behind Team MRF teammate Gill.

Among those that did not finish was the fancied Proton Motorsports Malaysian factory entry of Australian Chris Atkinson.

The Monaco-based Queenslander set fastest times whenever he ran, but was stopped on Saturday and yesterday by an electrical problem and completed only five stages.

Teammate Alister McRae suffered similar problems but was able to fight on to finish fourth.

Higgins played himself cautiously into an event he had not contested before.

“We were the only one who hadn’t been here before, so it took a little while to get up my confidence particularly on the quick stuff,” he said.

“But eventually I was able to get there and today we picked up three stage wins to put us in a strong position for the final fight.”

“It’s great for Ieuan and I to win here. It’s a great series and we’re looking forward to getting to the next round in New Caledonia.”

The fights-to-the-finish capped the biggest and best International Rally of Queensland on record.

The event started with a record 96 cars, including 16 from overseas representing nine countries.

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