Although the famed Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) event is best known for testing the skill and daring of the motorcycle set, this year's competition also saw a longstanding speed mark for four-wheeled vehicles fall in a most convincing manner. Former British Rally Champion Mark Higgins piloted a near stock 2011 Subaru WRX STI around the twisting 37.8-mile Mountain Circuit in 19 minutes and 56.7 seconds, completing the flying lap at a staggering 113.0 mph and obliterating the 21-year old record of 102.0 mph set by set by Tony Pond in a Rover 827 Vitesse.
Higgins' feat around the famed Mountain Circuit comprised of public roads that the encircle this normally placid island located off the central west coast of Great Britain was accomplished in a U.S.-spec Subaru WRX STI. Although no changes were made to its standard 305-horsepower turbocharged boxer engine, a free-flowing and intentionally louder exhaust system was fitted to serve as an on-board sonic warning to the locals and the speed limiter was deactivated allowing this swift Subie to reach a top speed of 162 mph at one point. Other changes included the addition of racing-style seats, a full rollcage and a fire suppression system. Shod with street-legal Pirelli P Zero Trofeo tires, the car also had its stock brakes upgraded with racing pads as well a spring/shock revamp to help it better to cope with the numerous high-velocity bumps and jumps that add even more drama to a venue that is largely devoid of any crash barriers or Armco.
"Setting the record was both the most exhilarating and the most frightening thing I have ever done," explains Higgins, an Isle of Man native son. "The rules allow for a flying start, so I crossed the line at 125mph. I then went down through the Bray Hill junction -- normally taken at around 20 mph -- at over 150mph. Once that tricky section was out of the way I settled into the lap and quickly got used to the balance and sheer pace of the car."