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Subaru Impreza WRX STI Breaks Isle of Man Lap Record [w/ video]

Source: Various | Published: Wed Jun 08, 2011

Driver Mark Higgins, a former British Rally champion and World rally competitor, drove a Subaru WRX STI sports car to a new lap record for production cars at the Isle of Man TT race course.

With a time just under 20 minutes and an average speed of 113 mph, he surpassed the old record by more than two minutes. The previous top time had stood for 21 years. Higgins plans to improve his performance with more laps tomorrow and Friday.

Higgins has never made secret his desire to beat Pond's record and has been desperate to have a full lap of the TT Course on closed roads for years.

"You've got to respect the course and I'm glad to get the first lap in," he explains. "I know what the car does now, particularly on the big corners. It will be interesting to see what it can do with slicks on, but I'm very surprised to do these speeds on these tires."

The Subaru team wanted the car to be as close to the standard production US-spec Subaru WRX STI as possible, so fitted the car with road-legal tires.

"The Subaru was driven on Pirelli P Zero Trofeo tires," explains Paul Hembery, director of motorsport at Pirelli. "These are road-legal track tires that are designed for high performance driving. When Pond set the record in 1990, he drove on slicks, which will have enabled him to set a fast pace while sticking to the winding roads. However, it takes a seriously good road tire to achieve grip and control at speeds of up to 170 mph, which is what Mark achieved yesterday."

To improve safety at such high speeds the car was fitted with essential enhancements such as a roll cage, race seats and harnesses.

"The car is as close to a production car as you can get, while remaining safe for the challenge," continues Paul. "Yes, Tony Pond's car was too, but at these speeds tire choice makes a huge difference and he was on slicks, which are illegal on British roads. Beating the record on road-legal Pirelli P Zero Trofeos shows how far our tire technology has come on in the last twenty years."

The record runs are meant to mark Subaru of America Inc.'s recent agreement to sponsor the Isle of Man TT Races and become the official car of the annual event.

The Isle of Man is a mecca for serious motorcycle racing fans and the annual TT draws huge crowds from around the world to the island's 37.75-mile, 200-turn Mountain Circuit. By taking the record Subaru could attract more buyers to its fast, rally-inspired WRX.

The late rally star Tony Pond set the old record in a Rover 827 Vitesse in 1990. Back then the big goal was to average 100 mph over the course, which Pond was first to accomplish. The difficult course threads through small towns, past farm fields lined with rail fences and along treacherous rock walls. The fastest motorcycles average around 130 mph in the TT.

Subaru Impreza WRX STI Breaks Isle of Man Lap Record Photo Gallery
2011 Subaru Impreza WRX STI
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