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New Isle Of Man TT Lap Record - Web Exclusive

Mark Higgins flew around the 37-mile demonstration lap of the Snaefell Mountain Course in 19 minutes and 56.7 seconds.

Jun 9, 2011

After 21 years to the day, the Isle of Man TT Race circuit lap record was broken on Monday 6 June 2011. It was previously set by rally driver Tony Pond in a Rover 827 Vitesse using slick tires. However, yesterday’s record-breaking Subaru WRX STI was on Pirelli’s P Zero Trofeo road-legal tires.

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The Subaru, prepared by TEG Sport and driven by former British Rally Champion Mark Higgins, flew around the 37-mile demonstration lap of the Snaefell Mountain Course in 19 minutes and 56.7 seconds, translating to an average speed of 113mph with a peak speed of 162mph achieved during the lap. On 6th June 1990, Pond teamed up with Austin Rover and, in a Rover 827 Vitesse, became the first-ever production car to average over 100mph around the Isle of Man TT Motor Bike Circuit. Until yesterday, this feat had never been equaled. But now Higgins’ time is more than two minutes faster than the previous record set by the late Tony Pond.

“The Subaru was driven on Pirelli P Zero Trofeo tires,” said Paul Hembery, director of Pirelli motorsport. “These are road-legal track tires designed for high performance driving. When Pond set the record in 1990, he drove on slicks, which would 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 over 160mph, which is what Mark achieved yesterday. Beating the record on road-legal Pirelli P Zero Trofeos shows how far our tire technology has come on in the last 20 years.”

“The Subaru was driven on Pirelli P Zero Trofeo tires,” said Paul Hembery, director of Pirelli motorsport. “These are road-legal track tires designed for high performance driving. When Pond set the record in 1990, he drove on slicks, which would 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 over 160mph, which is what Mark achieved yesterday. Beating the record on road-legal Pirelli P Zero Trofeos shows how far our tire technology has come on in the last 20 years.”

The WRX STI used for the record-breaking run had a stock 300hp Boxer engine and unmodified brake calipers. The springs and dampers were adjusted to cope with the various high speed bumps and jumps along the course. In recognition of the speeds involved, and the fact there are little or no crash barriers around most of the TT road circuit, the STI was fitted with some essential safety equipment such as an MSA-specification T45 integrated rollcage, TRS race harnesses and a Lifeline extinguisher system. To warn spectators of the oncoming car, the Subaru team also fitted the STI with a high-decibel exhaust. “Setting the record was both the most exhilarating and the most frightening thing I’ve ever done,” explained Higgins, whose career as a driver in the British and World Rally Championships hasn’t been short of excitement!

“The rules allow for a flying start, so I crossed the line at 125mph. I then went down through the Bray Hill junction (more conventionally taken at around 20mph) at over 150mph. Once that tricky section was out of the way I settled into the lap and got used to the balance and pace of the car.

“In the end the lap was simply fantastic, and the WRX STI behaved impeccably,” explained Higgins. “That we managed to set such an impressive time at our first attempt is a great tribute to the Subaru, especially given that so few modifications were made. The engine pulled incredibly strongly throughout, and the cornering ability proved crucial on such a twisty, unforgiving course.”

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The TT crowds got behind the record attempt, reported Higgins. “The atmosphere out on the circuit was incredible, especially once the spectators heard that we were in the process of setting a new record over the PA system. I could hear their cheers in the car and it really added to the experience.”

The International Isle of Man TT (Tourist Trophy) Race is a motorcycle racing event held on the Isle of Man and was for many years the most prestigious motorcycle race in the world. The race is run in a time-trial format on public roads closed for racing by the provisions of an Act of Tynwald (the parliament of the Isle of Man).

The outright lap record on the TT course was set in 2009 by John McGuinness on a Honda CBR1000RR ‘Fireblade’ motorcycle. He posted a time of 17 minutes and 12.3 seconds, equivalent to an average speed of 131mph.

Subaru recently signed a three-year deal as the official car sponsor for the TT, providing the latest Subaru models for the TT organizers to help manage the running of the event, including the course inspection.

Sources

Pirelli
Rome, GA 30161
800-747-3554
http://www.us.pirelli.com

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