When it comes to bragging rights attached to production cars, most automakers quote the electrifying Nurburgring lap times achieved by their hatchbacks or supercars. Subaru , however, is taking pride in a benchmark set on course that’s more familiar to motorcycle riders than sharp-witted, fast drivers - the Isle of Man TT road course.
Three years have passed since a 2010 Subaru WRX STI driven by three-time British rally champion Mark Higgins set the car lap record at 19 minutes and 56.7 seconds, and the same team returned to the Isle of Man to improve the benchmark. And Higgins did so by hooning a 2015 WRX STI around the track and past the finish line in only 19 minutes and 26 seconds, smashing his previous record by no less than 30 seconds.
Durring his attempt, the British driver managed to reach an average speed of 116.47 mph and a top speed of 162.9 mph, two figures that are also superior to the ones he touched back in 2011. According to Subaru, the WRX STI used for the record-breaking course is a stock, U.S.-spec model that received some updates, including a FIA-approved roll-cage, racing seats, improved springs and dampers, and a fire suppression system. Additionally, the sedan was fitted with Dunlop Derezza at all four corners and had its speed limiter - normally set at 155 mph - removed.
Click past the jump to read more about Subaru’s Isle of Man record.
Why It Matters
Although the Isle of Man TT course has yet to reach the iconic status of the Nurburgring as far as automobiles are concerned, it remains a spectacular circuit and one of the very few that got to keep its old-school configuration. That being said, we can only hope that Subaru’s new record will spur more manufacturers to land on the British island in search of fresh track glory.
What’s disappointing about this record though is that Subaru opted to upgrade the WRX STI with numerous race-spec parts, throwing the vehicle’s stock status to the dumpster. But at least the crew from Subaru of America was honest enough to admit it. Are you reading this, Nissan?
The redesigned 2015 Subaru WRX STI boasts a brand-new exterior and an aerodynamic body kit that keeps most of the signature features seen on previous STI sedans. The interior is upgraded as well, with soft touch materials covering most of the annoying hard plastic bits found in older models and a couple of additions in the technology department. Performance-wise, the WRX STI benefits from 305 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque squeezed out by a turbocharged, 2.5-liter boxer four unit.
Gallery Subaru WRX STI
Subaru of America, Inc. announced today that a 2015 Subaru WRX STI piloted by Mark Higgins set a new lap record of the fabled 37-mile Isle of Man TT Road Course with an average lap speed of 116.470 and a time of 19.26. This breaks the current record of 115.36 that was set three years ago by Mark Higgins in a 2010 Subaru WRX STI. Higgins will return to drive the new 2015 Subaru WRX STI.
The run was completed in a U.S.-spec 2015 Subaru WRX STI.
“It was quite a lap we did today and I am really happy to have another record in the bank. The chassis on this new car is so much better it really allowed me to pick up time in each sector in the more technical parts of the course,” Higgins said. “I think there is definitely time that we left on the course. I lost time on the second part of the track, overshooting my braking point at Sign Post corner. I actually hand-braked the turn in the end, so I feel we can definitely do better.”
The car Higgins drove is a stock U.S.-spec 2015 WRX STI, with the exception of an FIA-spec roll-cage, racing seat and harness, fire suppression system and modified springs and dampers to handle the sustained high speeds and changing conditions of the course. The Subaru WRX STI also featured Dunlop Derezza tires and a high decibel straight exhaust for crowd safety. The speed limiter was also removed from the car.
“There is nothing like the TT course in all of racing, it’s just an amazing circuit,” said Mark Higgins. “Not just because of its length, but the elevation changes, constant surface variations as you shift from town to country roads and the fact that we run roughly 30 mph and then up to 160 plus for much of the race.”
“We are happy to be back at the Isle of Man as a sponsor. There is nothing like a lap of the TT circuit to push a car to its limits. As the official car of the TT, this record is especially gratifying,” said Dominick Infante, National Manager of Product Communications, Subaru of America, Inc. “The Isle of Man really shows the improvements we have made to the new WRX STI in terms of chassis and steering. We are evaluating whether to make another run on Friday and top this record.”
The event, which has been comprehensively risk assessed by both Subaru and the ACU, including consultation with all relevant parties, will take place under full, closed road race conditions.
David Cretney, the Isle of Man Government Political Member responsible for Tourism and Motorsport, commented:
"We are pleased (delighted) to be able to help one of the TT’s valued, long term partners in delivering their promotional campaign for the new vehicle. Subaru of America has made a major commitment to the event, both financially and as a provider of course cars, which helps us to reduce the fiscal contribution required by the public purse."
In his previous attempt on the course, Higgins created one of the most memorable race videos when he had a self-described “moment” at the bottom of Bray Hill at 150 MPH. The video has received almost 4 million views. After setting the record Higgins stated, "Setting the record was both the most exhilarating and the most frightening thing I have ever done."