Ost Capito’s eyes widened. He couldn’t really believe what he was being told. It didn’t make much sense.
“That much?” he said. I nodded. “I have to go to this place. I have to go.” Our conversation had wandered from the World Rally Championship to the place I started last week: the Isle of Man. Capito’s a big bike fan and regularly takes a proper Ducatti up the road and into the stages to watch his cars.
Michael Dunlop’s new lap record around the Mountain Course had him captivated.
But it was a mutual friend – Mark Higgins – that really amazed him.
Capito might not have visited Douglas, but he’s well aware of the 270 corners – including two first-gear hairpins – that litter the 37.73-mile loop.
“What is 129mph?” Capito said, inviting himself to calculate the shocking translation. “That’s like 210 kilometres per hour… in a car!”
I must apologise to the Rally Italy service park: I couldn’t and wouldn’t shut up about the TT. Last week was my first trip and it was everything I hoped it would be. And a whole heap more.
In and out in a day, my focus was on Higgins’ Subaru lap, but he was well aware of my bike fever and made sure he got us to St Ninian’s crossroads in time for a bit of spectating.
“Get right up to the barrier,” he told me, “now wait… they’re coming.”
Zing, zing, zing. Three bikes, right to left over the crossroads at 180mph – that’s six times what the police would have you and I doing on any normal day.
Everybody had told me: sensory overload, blah, blah, blah, but they were absolutely right. It was utterly insane and barely possible to pan quick enough to keep them in the eye line. I have no idea who was riding the bikes, it doesn’t matter. Anybody who threw their leg over anything with two – or three – wheels and headed down Bray Hill at breakneck speed was a superhero.
But good as the bikes were, watching Higgy slowing his supersonic Subaru from 170mph into the right-hander at Creg-ny-baa was a tiny bit more special. The toasty Dunlops squirmed on the brakes, then squealed as he poured 600bhp through them at the apex, nearing the end of another extraordinary lap. Insanity was around every corner. And I’d seen every one of those corners, courtesy of a high-speed lap alongside Mark in a road-going Subaru WRX STI. Trust me, that boy’s still a proper peddler; he’s wasted as the real James Bond. It’s time he was back in the British Rally Championship, where a fourth and fifth title undoubtedly await him.
My only regret was my early departure from Douglas.“that’s a shame,” said Higgy, “I was hoping you’d come for a lap on the back of my bike.”
Suddenly, Sardinia couldn’t come soon enough…
June 17-19 Competitive miles: 186 miles Stages: 20 Garry Jennings/ Rory Kennedy (Subaru Impreza S12B WRC)