RE: Lapping the TT, Higgins style

RE: Lapping the TT, Higgins style

Saturday 11th June 2016

Lapping the TT, Higgins style

PH heads to the Isle of Man to meet Higgins and get a lap of the TT in a WRX STI (updated with vid)



Consult ye olde book of 101 Things Every PHer Should Do Before They Turn 50 and you'll find the Isle of Man TT as one of the first chapters. It is to two wheels what Le Mans is to car fans; on Monday it was my turn to do the TT.

As I arrive at the airport I already know Mark Higgins has annihilated the previous lap record, but his promise of 'a bit more to come' only serves to heighten my excitement as I make the short drive to Douglas. Word on the street is that Higgins is set to go even faster - his 17min 49.75sec lap time a mere prelude to something even more astonishing. We said the 120mph target was pessimistic - the 126.971mph average speed proves we were right. Question is, just how much faster can he go?

Higgins is feeling relaxed. Asked if he intends to beat the time, the Manxman tells me "Um, yeah, by a little bit. The early 128s would be good." In other words, just over 1mph around the entire 37.73-mile course. Small margins, significant results.

Searching for every last bit of speed!
Searching for every last bit of speed!
Harder, faster, better
Meanwhile, outside in the paddock, the Prodrive team have been working tirelessly to squeeze every last ounce of potential out of the heavily-modified Subaru WRX STI. "We've changed the set up quite dramatically overnight," Higgins tells me. "I've gone a lot harder with the car. We've done a few tweaks to the dampers... to the camber... we're learning all the time."

The team doesn't have a great deal of data to work with, mind. "There's nowhere in the world you can test for this place," he explains. "Until your first run out you've got no idea what the car's doing."

He's typically modest about his achievements, but his calmness belies what is an astonishingly brave thing to do. You won't have forgotten his famous 'tank slapper' of 2011 and you can be sure as hell he hasn't. "It's me getting the balls to go faster through the corners now," he says, in a manner in which you might describe a climbing a flight of stairs or taking a sip of tea.

Mark heads off to do some VIP laps of the course, leaving me to inspect the record-breaking Subaru. Some of the changes being made are surprisingly rudimentary, with one engineer drilling additional holes in the grille to provide extra cooling.

This is what we mean about rudimentary
This is what we mean about rudimentary
I can see clearly
The team has also installed a wash-wipe system, designed to ensure there are no flies blocking Higgins' view. Over coffee, the three-time British Rally Championship winner explains that flies on the screen are a huge issue. "When you come back up the mountain you're looking into the sun and the screen on the car is so slanted... I think that's the right [corner]. Which is OK at 100mph but at 150mph it's a bit different."

Of course it is. So for today's run, the Provide team will send a text message to the car's display, telling Higgins when to press the wash-wipe button. Just another thing to consider when you're doing 170mph on what is essentially a British B-road. The Subaru will also be treated to a fresh set of Dunlop Sport Maxx slicks, with Higgins complaining of a "little movement" with five miles to go. All things being equal, the car should be perfectly set up for another lap record. Higgins just needs to bring his balls...

But first, my own hot lap of the famous TT circuit. I won't pretend that I wasn't a little disappointed to be informed I wouldn't be one of the fortunate three to ride with Higgins, even with images from that video fresh in my mind. Turns out I needn't have worried. My driver would be Adrian Kermode, another Manxman and the kind of guy you would love to meet. He owns a Porsche 911 and is a former Mini rally driver. Like many residents of the Isle of Man, he was riding a motorcycle within hours of learning to walk.

Because red ones are fastest, right?
Because red ones are fastest, right?
Lap of the gods
If the Mark Higgins time attack was the main course, this had to be the dessert. Riding 'four up' in a Subaru WRX STI road car along the entire Isle of Man circuit. A proper pinch yourself moment. There were half a dozen Scoobies on the track, with Higgins leading the pack. Kermode asks if we'd mind if he brings up the rear, as it means he can hold back and get some proper speed up. We said you'd like him!

Nothing can prepare you for the Isle of Man. You might think passenger laps are a bit 'meh', but this is no ordinary ride along. The fact that these are left-hand drive cars, shipped over by Subaru USA, only serves to heighten the sense of surrealism. It takes me a while to stop reaching for the non-existent pedals.

Hurtling through 30mph zones and villages at 120mph feels so wrong. Tackling the mountain section at 140mph feels so right. Adrian is having fun. He points to sections where the sidecars clip the kerb and provides a simple demonstration.

Imagine explaining the TT to your average American
Imagine explaining the TT to your average American
Air time
He pulls back from the pack to gather enough speed to get air over a humpback bridge. Meanwhile, life goes on. One chap continues to build a garden wall as a pack of screaming Scoobies pass within a few feet of his builder's bum. Children play in front gardens. I just pray a cat doesn't wander into the road.

The lap is high on theatre, but low on drama. The sheer amount of grip and complete absence of body roll means I never feel like I'm about to encounter a stone wall or village pub. The best experience of 2016? Without a doubt.

Later that day, Mark Higgins sets another lap record, finishing in a time of 17min 35.139sec: an average speed of 128.730mph. If I'm honest, it was never in doubt and there's a sense of inevitability as the slammed and wide-arched Scooby crosses the finish line. I had averaged 80-90mph on 'my' hot lap, so goodness knows what it must be like to ride with Higgins when he's properly on it. I'm not entirely sure I want to find out.

I return to the airport with a renewed sense of respect for the TT riders and even more appreciation of Higgins' talents. Put aside any qualms over Subaru's lack of competition or the modified nature of the car and simply marvel in what they have achieved.

And stay tuned for another lap record, later this week.

Watch the video here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

Author
Discussion

Jerry Can

Original Poster:

2,024 posts

151 months

Wednesday 8th June 2016
quotequote all
if FISA hadn't banned group B in the 80's, this is a close approximation of what rallying might be like to day. Splendid!

jimed

1,477 posts

134 months

Thursday 9th June 2016
quotequote all
Nice to see the car in action however it looks as if whoever edited the video had not been to the IoM as the clips are in all sorts of order. He went through the Creg before he had gone almost anywhere else then did Ballaugh Bridge twice with other bits seemingly shown in random order. So as a video showing a lap of any sort it was not much good.
Jim

LeapingDeere

38 posts

25 months

Thursday 9th June 2016
quotequote all
Would love to see a lap done by a Porsche 918. If a driver and an owner is brave enough!

rhinochopig

17,932 posts

126 months

Thursday 9th June 2016
quotequote all
Jerry Can said:
if FISA hadn't banned group B in the 80's, this is a close approximation of what rallying might be like to day. Splendid!
More like this I suspect...


Jerry Can

Original Poster:

2,024 posts

151 months

Thursday 9th June 2016
quotequote all
actually more like this


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Gary C

3,723 posts

107 months

Thursday 9th June 2016
quotequote all
Had to go through this first !


[/quote]

toerag

682 posts

60 months

Thursday 9th June 2016
quotequote all
when all you want is on-board with sound frown

rhinochopig

17,932 posts

126 months

Thursday 9th June 2016
quotequote all
Jerry Can said:
actually more like this

I don't agree. That's designed to at least partially resemble a pug road car - think Porsche silhouette cars. The car I posted is designed without any nod to needing to look like a road car to aid in marketing sales.

xRIEx

8,180 posts

76 months

Friday 10th June 2016
quotequote all
rhinochopig said:
Jerry Can said:
actually more like this

I don't agree. That's designed to at least partially resemble a pug road car - think Porsche silhouette cars. The car I posted is designed without any nod to needing to look like a road car to aid in marketing sales.
Group B cars had to have 200 road versions built and sold (in theory). A 208 (with a more realistic road shell than a spaceframe) seems like a more likely candidate than a purebred prototype.

Radical notwithstanding.

rhinochopig

17,932 posts

126 months

Friday 10th June 2016
quotequote all
xRIEx said:
rhinochopig said:
Jerry Can said:
actually more like this

I don't agree. That's designed to at least partially resemble a pug road car - think Porsche silhouette cars. The car I posted is designed without any nod to needing to look like a road car to aid in marketing sales.
Group B cars had to have 200 road versions built and sold (in theory). A 208 (with a more realistic road shell than a spaceframe) seems like a more likely candidate than a purebred prototype.

Radical notwithstanding.
Group S was supposed to follow Grp B. This is what Audi were working on for this class...

1000bhp, mid engined, and less than a tonne in weight.

http://www.thesmokingtire.com/2012/secret-rally-ca...

There was no nod to a road car at all. See the resemblance to the Hyundai above.

wst

2,695 posts

89 months

Saturday 11th June 2016
quotequote all
The Group S Audi is apparently being restored for a run in a Paris retro rally this year.

TheLuke

2,018 posts

69 months

Saturday 11th June 2016
quotequote all
rhinochopig said:
Group S was supposed to follow Grp B. This is what Audi were working on for this class...

1000bhp, mid engined, and less than a tonne in weight.

http://www.thesmokingtire.com/2012/secret-rally-ca...

There was no nod to a road car at all. See the resemblance to the Hyundai above.
Thats Mental. Imagine something like that round the IoM. 150MPH lap anyone biggrin

Vyse

1,029 posts

52 months

Saturday 11th June 2016
quotequote all
So can a car lap the TT course faster than a bike?

Housey

1,915 posts

155 months

Saturday 11th June 2016
quotequote all
Vyse said:
So can a car lap the TT course faster than a bike?
Without question.

Gary C

3,723 posts

107 months

Saturday 11th June 2016
quotequote all
TheLuke said:
rhinochopig said:
Group S was supposed to follow Grp B. This is what Audi were working on for this class...

1000bhp, mid engined, and less than a tonne in weight.

http://www.thesmokingtire.com/2012/secret-rally-ca...

There was no nod to a road car at all. See the resemblance to the Hyundai above.
Thats Mental. Imagine something like that round the IoM. 150MPH lap anyone biggrin
Except that group s proposal would have limited power to around 300bhp as I remember. 2.4 or 1.2 FI

Lancia ecv was I think the only one to turn a wheel in any sort of anger


Edited by Gary C on Sunday 12th June 03:06

ajprice

14,513 posts

124 months

Saturday 11th June 2016
quotequote all
rhinochopig said:
Jerry Can said:
actually more like this

I don't agree. That's designed to at least partially resemble a pug road car - think Porsche silhouette cars. The car I posted is designed without any nod to needing to look like a road car to aid in marketing sales.
Whether it looks like a road car or not, that 208 is the fastest thing around Pikes Peak, by a big margin (8m 13s to 9m 58s for a bike). So if we are comparing the TT course to Pikes Peak, that 208 should do nicely.

SydneyBridge

3,624 posts

86 months

Saturday 11th June 2016
quotequote all
Housey said:
Vyse said:
So can a car lap the TT course faster than a bike?
Without question.
Nope, bike lap record is 17.03, Higgins did 17.25

Housey

1,915 posts

155 months

Saturday 11th June 2016
quotequote all
SydneyBridge said:
Housey said:
Vyse said:
So can a car lap the TT course faster than a bike?
Without question.
Nope, bike lap record is 17.03, Higgins did 17.25
That wasn't the answer to the question numb nuts.

jjones

2,948 posts

121 months

Saturday 11th June 2016
quotequote all
Housey said:
That wasn't the answer to the question numb nuts.
Lap records are published, where is the one where the car is faster than the bike then "numb nuts"?


ajprice

14,513 posts

124 months

Saturday 11th June 2016
quotequote all
jjones said:
Housey said:
That wasn't the answer to the question numb nuts.
Lap records are published, where is the one where the car is faster than the bike then "numb nuts"?
The question wasn't 'So has a car lapped the TT course faster than a bike?', it was
Vyse said:
So can a car lap the TT course faster than a bike?
There is a difference.