J

Ost Capito’s eyes widened. He couldn’t re­ally be­lieve what he was be­ing told. It didn’t make much sense.

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - Date: 2015 win­ners:

“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…

DONE­GAL ES­SEN­TIALS

June 17-19 Com­pet­i­tive miles: 186 miles Stages: 20 Garry Jen­nings/ Rory Kennedy (Subaru Im­preza S12B WRC)

Hig­gins im­pressed Capito

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