A production-spec Subaru WRX STI sedan has broken the Isle of Man TT’s road-car lap record, which is more than two decades old. The WRX STI, driven by former British Rally Champion Mark Higgins, posted a lap time of 19 minutes and 56.7 seconds over the 60.8 km long course, translating to an average speed of 181 kph. The top speed achieved during the lap was 260 kph.

The lap time set by Higgins is more than two minutes quicker than the previous record, which was set by the late Tony Pond 21 years ago, on June 6, 1990, behind the wheel of an Rover 827 Vitesse. Pond was the first to break the average 160 kph barrier in a road car, and his lap record has stood ever since. The TT event organisers gave Higgins just one lap to conduct his record attempt in the car, and there was no opportunity to carry out high speed practice runs.

The record-breaking WRX STI was a standard Subaru production car with a 300 PS engine, unmodified brake callipers and road-legal Pirelli P Zero Trofeo tyres, with the springs and dampers adjusted to tackle the various bumps and jumps at high speed along the course.

With little or no crash barriers around most of the TT road circuit, the WRX STI was fitted with some essential safety enhancements, including an MSA-specification T45 integrated roll cage, TRS race harnesses and a Lifeline extinguisher system. To help forewarn spectators – who were out in force cheering the attempt on – of the presence of the oncoming car, the Subaru team also fitted the WRX STI with a high-decibel exhaust.

The outright lap record for the TT course was set in 2009 by John McGuinness on a Honda CBR1000RR ‘Fireblade’ motorcycle, with a time of 17 minutes and 12.3 seconds, equivalent to an average speed of 210 kph.