A factory-stock Subaru WRX STI set a new lap average at the legendary Isle of Man TT Mountain Course. Mark Higgins drove the all-wheel drive 305-horsepower Subaru to an incredible 115.356 mph average speed around the course better known as a classic motorcycle racing venue. Higgins’ required only 19 minutes 37 seconds to complete the 37 miles of winding public road, hitting a top speed of 162 mph in the process.
It’s no mean feat. The record had stood since British rally driver Tony Pond set the former record for an automobile on the TT road course with a stock Rover 827 Vitesse–the first time a production car bettered a 100 mph average–in 1989.
Higgins, a British rally champion, had actually broken the record during practice, but Higgins, a Manx native, was certainly already familiar with the roads. Still, a 113 mph “familiarization” lap is more than impressive.
“It was difficult because we really had no idea what speeds we would be able to do on the course as we were unable to run a full lap at speed,” Higgins said of the record-shattering practice run. “Today we were unsure if we would be able to run because of the weather. There was hail on part of the course this morning, and heavy rain, but we were able to get a run off and it was a great lap.”
The Subaru WRX STI he drove had some modifications primarily for safety, though the stock speed limiter was turned off to allow a higher maximum speed. The Subaru was equipped with a Lifeline fire suppression system, Hockley Motorsports roll cage, motordrive competition seats, Mintex brake pads (but stock calipers and rotors), and an open exhaust–to warn spectators of the on-coming car (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).
Springs and dampers were changed to accommodate the numerous high-speed jumps on the circuit, some of which sent the WRX STI almost four feet off the ground, though the firmed up suspension must also have aided cornering when all four wheels were attached to the pavement. The car ran on street legal Pirelli P Zero Trofeo tires.
“It has been my dream to drive this course since I was a little boy,” said Higgins, “and I am just elated that we were able to hit the speeds we did. The Subaru was just rock solid through the mountain section and took an amazing amount of punishment on the course.”
So what’s it like setting a new record on the Isle of Man TT mountain course, Mark? “This was the most thrilling and frightening thing I have ever done.” No doubt.
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