DAVID EVANS

“Higgy is back on the is­land again for record run”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

T

here’s noth­ing par­tic­u­larly spe­cial about Kirk Michael, it’s a lovely vil­lage in the mid­dle of the Bri­tish Isles. Pre­dictably and un­der­stand­ably, there’s a 30mph speed limit given the close prox­im­ity of houses to the A3. But re­ally, it’s just a reg­u­lar kind of place.

A reg­u­lar kind of place that is, apart from when Mark Hig­gins is pulling more than 150mph on nearby Main Road in a tweaked and tuned Subaru. Higgy’s back on his is­land again. The Manx­man re­mains one of Bri­tish mo­tor­sport’s most pop­u­lar fig­ures and most tal­ented rally driv­ers. Work­ing on the story of his at­tempt to break the TT lap record for a car for the third time in­volved a good deal of Youtube re­search. In­evitably, I got caught up with the Bray Hill tank-slap­per for a long time, but it was the footage of his com­plete 2014 lap that re­ally took time out of my day.

You can have noth­ing but mas­sive ad­mi­ra­tion for what Hig­gins does. Those for­tu­nate enough to have vis­ited the Isle of Man will know what the place is like. Be­tween the vil­lages, the TT course is all sweep­ing, dou­ble-width roads, the kind of place that en­cour­ages you to have a go. And we’ve all been there and had a go.

But there’s a world of dif­fer­ence be­tween push­ing the na­tional speed limit and hold­ing sixth through a nearly flat right-han­der into Ram­say be­fore let­ting the car drift into the bus stop on the exit of the fol­low­ing left. At 110mph.

We’re all as ac­cus­tomed as you can ever be to see­ing big bikes do­ing th­ese kind of speeds around the Isle of Man once a year, but see­ing Hig­gins do it in a car that re­mains so spe­cial to our sport is a real treat.

On the sub­ject of the artist for­merly known as the Im­preza (now called a WRX), watch the whole lap again but tune your ears out of Mark’s com­men­tary and into the rasp­ing boxer bark. It’s mu­sic.

Fur­ther re­search led me to an­other Bri­tish hero who, like Hig­gins, could and should have com­manded more re­spect and re­sults in the World Rally Cham­pi­onship: Tony Pond.

Pondy’s lap in a lum­ber­ing Rover 827 was just as spe­cial 26 years down the line. Granted, it was miss­ing the hold-your-breath-shut-youreyes cor­ner speed, but see­ing it bounce along Cronk-y-voddy with the speedo off the clock wasn’t ex­actly a poor sec­ond.

Af­ter a seven-week gap be­tween World Rally Cham­pi­onship rounds, it was quite a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion not to fill this space with news of the im­pend­ing South Amer­i­can ad­ven­ture. Then there were full-time World RX de­buts for Se­bastien Loeb and Ken Block in Por­tu­gal last week­end, both pro­vid­ing or­di­nar­ily great col­umn fod­der.

But there’s some­thing about the in­con­gruity of Subaru Amer­ica’s lat­est quest.

Not to men­tion the in­con­gruity of Higgy, the ev­ery­day su­per­star.

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