Mark Higgins Smashes Isle of Man Record
James Bond’s stunt driver sets sub-18-minute benchmarkby Ciprian Florea, on
Rally driver Mark Higgins has set a new lap record at the Isle of Man TT course, smashing the previous benchmark with a 17:49.75-minute lap and an average speed of 126.971. Higgins drove a highly modified Subaru WRX STI and improved his previous record by a whopping 1:26 minutes and 9.461 mph, respectively.
Unlike last year, when Higgins used a WRX STI closer to production specification, the Prodrive-prepped sedan uses a higher revving, 600-horsepower engine, numerous weight-reducing components, and a WRC-spec gearbox. Also, the beefed-up WRX rides on a bespoke suspension system with Exe-TC dampers and uses a fully flat underfloor, a drag reduction system, and medium-compound Dunlop Sport Maxx slick tires borrowed from a British Touring Car Championship racer.
All told, Higgins’ new Suby is more of a professional rally car than a standard WRX STI, which makes the new record less than surprising.
"I think 125 mph was the dream before the start. I’ve only had one practice run so I’m over the moon to do that on only my second lap and there’s a little bit more to come – definitely from me because I’m learning all the time I go around the track - and there is a little bit more to come from the car as well," Higgins told Manx Radio at the end of his record-breaking, 37.73-mile lap.
The British pilot is set to make two more attempts this week, meaning that the benchmark is likely to see an improvement before the team calls it a day.
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Why it matters
The Isle of Man TT course has been getting a lot of attention over the past years, mainly due to the spectacular road race it hosts annually, and, sadly, for the numerous fatalities that occur during the event. Setting lap records also gained a lot of popularity among racing enthusiasts, and even though the achievement is not as popular as the Nurburgring’s, the fact that it takes place on a road course rather than a closed circuit gives it a distinct appeal. What makes this run special is that Higgins finally smashed the 18-minute barrier and scored an average speed of more than 120 mph. However, while this benchmark is indeed astonishing, the fact that the WRX STI he used is more of a WRC car rather than a stock model you can buy from dealerships takes some glitter away. Still, it’s a record worth watching and an event that’s likely to become increasingly popular in future. Who knows, maybe automakers will soon include the Isle of Man TT in their marketing strategies alongside the Nurburgring.
Read our full review of the 2016 Subaru WRX STI Time Attack here.