Topping out on the Isle of Man

Some people do their job so well that all you can do is sit back and marvel at their skill, and perhaps display just a hint of jealousy.

British Rally champion Mark Higgins is one such individual. Driving the dangerous 37.7 miles Isle of Man circuit, which requires vast levels of concentration, cool and a hefty dose of skill behind the wheel, Higgins bettered his own record by tearing around the circuit in a time of 17:25.139s, at times reaching eye-watering speeds of 175mph (281km/h). For reference, a jetliner will generally take-off between 150 to 180mph.

Higgins was at the wheel of a specially designed Subaru WRX STI (which cost around €631,000), tailored to go around the TT circuit, with an engine tuned to output 600bhp, with 0-100km/h in a mere 2.6 seconds, topping out at 289km/h.

His average speed around the Snaefell Mountain Course, which has claimed the lives of 252 people since 1911 (including four killed in 2016 alone) was a blistering 128.7mph. What’s almost even more incredulous is Higgins’ calm demeanor as he narrates some fairly hair-raising manoeuvres.

I’d say sit back and relax as you watch the video, but your fingernails might get a little trim.

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Lotus outdo themselves again

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All of the (mostly) fantastic cars developed by Lotus have names that inspire visions of excitement, speed and just a touch of terror, like Esprit, Elise and Exige (we’re not too sure about Evora, which could also be a brand of hand-cream for sensitive skin).

The latest model, however, is named the Lotus 3-Eleven. The successor to 2007’s equally oddly-named 2-Eleven track car, what it lacks for in name it more than makes up for in its stats. It’s the quickest production road car in Lotus’ history, for one thing. While the previous version was powered by a supercharged 1.8L engine, the latest edition boasts a supercharged 3.5l V6 block developing 450hp. 0-100km/h is achieved in a mere 3.0 seconds. We don’t have to tell you that’s seriously fast, with a power to weight ration of more than 500hp per tonne.

It’s quite the attractive looking car too, even if it seems like Lotus merely lopped the roof off an Exige and added a massive spoiler. There’s no doubt it looks like a thoroughbred track car, with larger air intakes on the bumper giving it a more aggressive stance, as does the new rear diffuser on the back, and the sharp side scallops. The rear in particular is a beautiful piece of work, with echoes of the Ferrari 458 Spider in the taillights.

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Armchair racers, rejoice!

Toyota_Gives_GT86_Drivers_The_Chance_To_Race_ThemselvesIt’s a scorching day. You’re hammering down the Fuji Speedway International Course, neck and neck with yourself in your Toyota GT86. Nope, it’s not that slightly uncomfortable dream you keep having, nor is it an especially vivid acid trip – it’s just the latest technology on offer from Japanese giants Toyota and Sony.

You see, one of the best things about Gran Turismo for many of us is the fact that you’re controlling (and crashing) real cars, cars which any one of us could – theoretically – own or drive some day, if we won the lotto or never had any bills to pay. Unfortunately, if your broadband isn’t great (read: quite a lot of Ireland), your competitors don’t really exist, and the thrill of beating virtual opponents doesn’t always last for terribly long.

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Google maps Top Gear’s legendary track

Undoubtedly a very large amount of petrolheads would give their gear-changing hand for a spin around the famous Top Gear test track, though not necessarily in a reasonably-priced car.

And, for those of you who always wanted to do so, good news! Well, sort of.

You see, one of Google’s street view cars has recently taken a spin around the hallowed tarmac. A modified Opel Astra teamed up with the Stig in a Mercedes SLS AMG Black, to allow the tame racing driver to keep up with the powerful Astra, albeit for much of the time in a position that could only really be described as sideways.

Yes, we know, it doesn’t exactly get you in a car on the tarmacadam. But, let’s face it. Scrolling around the track on Google Maps is probably as close as most of us are going to get.