The legendary TT is usually home to some of the craziest racing in motorbiking and even crazier riders, but this time one specially designed car is trying to tame it.
Racing driver Mark Higgins was given the chance to take a Prodrive and Subaru-modified WRX STI around the 37.73-mile course to break the average speed and lap time records he set back in 2014, Autocar reported.
Only this time, the 600bhp+ Scooby was fitted with medium-compound Dunlop Sport Maxx slicks from a British Touring Car Championship car, as opposed to the road-legal tyres he used to set the previous record of 19 minutes and 15.88 seconds at an average of 117.51mph.
The second of three runs saw Higgins reach an average speed of 128.730mph, which is dangerously close to the 130mph averages seen by the fastest TT riders, although his top speed of 168.6mph when passing the Sulby speed trap is significantly lower.
Let’s not get too caught up on the bikes versus cars argument though, because the lap time of 17 minutes and 35.139 seconds in the Subaru WRX STI Time Attack car, as it is officially known, is astonishing – not to mention 14 seconds faster than his first attempt.
So how much faster can Higgins go? Speaking to Autocar, he said: “I think 125mph 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.”
The problem is that any noticeable gain requires serious amounts of time to be saved. He added: “The dream was 125mph. We’re at 128 now, 130’s getting close. I don’t know. To put that in perspective, every second we gain on the average speed needs a lap time 10 seconds faster.
“There’s maybe a bit more power to come from the car, but there’s always a bit more to come from the driver. I’m still learning this place. Don’t forget, this was only my eighth flat-out timed lap of the track in my life – you just don’t get the opportunity to do these laps very often.
“There are maybe five or six corners where I’m going in there thinking: “Oooo, is it flat? Is it?” Trouble is, if I discover it’s not flat, I’m doing 160 or 170mph!”
Even more astonishing is the fact Subaru and Prodrive have managed to eke out around 600bhp from a 2.0-litre Boxer engine. That and other extensive revisions make this particular WRX STI beyond that of the rally car it is loosely based on. In fact, the power-to-weight ratio is said to be closer to a GT3 race car.
The first official lap record of the TT course in a car was set by Tony Pond in a Rover 827 Vitesse. He managed a time of 22 minutes and 09.1 seconds and an average speed of 102.195mph back in 1990.
TT rider Michael Dunlop got himself and his Hawk Racing BMW superbike into the record books after bettering the outright lap record with a time of 16 minutes and 58.254 seconds, averaging 133.393mph. He also became the first rider to manage two successive laps under the 17 minute-mark.
The 2016 TT has been overshadowed by the tragic loss of not one but two riders – father-of-four Paul Shoesmith and 27-year-old Dwight Beare – during the first day of practice.
Autocar says Subaru is working on a video of the record, which should make for breathtaking vieiwng. Until then, enjoy the following teaser.