Every once in a while you get a reminder that the Subaru WRX STI is basically just a rally car with an infotainment system. This time that reminder came in the form of rally champion Mark Higgins setting a new record for cars on the infamous Isle of Man TT course.
Higgins and the STI managed the course’s 37.8 miles of tight turns, rough surfaces, and shocking elevation changes in just 19 minutes and 26 seconds – an average speed of 116 mph. Think of a Nurburgring that’s more than twice as long and with no safety barriers or banking.
Higgins described driving a TT course in an extremely understated fashion. “There is nothing like the TT course in all racing. Not just because of its length but the elevation changes, constant surface variations as you shift from town to country roads and the fact we run from 30 mph and then up to 160 mph plus for much of the race.”
That is an insane accomplishment; averaging 116 mph means that Higgins slowed down very, very little for the corners. Either that man is not very bright, or he possesses cojones of steel … or maybe boron.
The car itself deserves some credit, and impressively it was essentially stock. The dampers and springs were gone over to allow them to handle the rough road surfaces at such high speeds without shattering into a million pieces. Other than that the only changes were better tires, a fire suppression system, roll cage and racing harness.
The engine was the same 305-horsepower 2.5 liter BOXER as every other STI, so unless the paint job made it go much faster the fastest lap time ever for a car on the TT course was by a car that costs just $35,000.
I guess we shouldn’t be that surprised. The last lap record was also held by Higgins in the previous generation of STI. The all-time track record is held by a Honda CBR1000RR ‘Fireblade’ superbike. Impressive, but I would prefer the car as it seems like I would be marginally less likely to outright kill me.
So here is to the Subaru WRX STI, one of the few showroom cars that actually holds real world performance records.