It just shouldn’t exist, really. The Isle of Man TT, a yearly event that turns the island’s roads into the world’s most daunting race track, is an anomaly – a relic of a bygone age when motorsport was raw, untamed and shockingly lethal. An epic course that thunders between the towns of Douglas, Ramsey and Peel and climaxes on the climbs of the Snaefell mountain road, it makes the Nordschleife look like a seaside karting track; modern day legends such as Michael Dunlop and John McGuinness, their knees scraping the hedgerows of islander’s front gardens as they speed past at 180mph, are heroes of a different order. Or reckless fools, if you want to look at it another way.
It’s been paid tribute to in numerous ways over the years – you can start with George Formby’s 1935 film No Limit, if you wish, but I’d recommend the brilliant documentary TT Closer to the Edge and Rick Broadbent’s colourful account in That Near-Death Thing – but never really done justice in a video game. AM3’s Manx TT Superbike – the follow-up to Sega Rally – put the race through Sega’s lysergic 90s arcade racer filter, while Polyphony Digital’s team were spotted driving the island a few years back for a project that’s still yet to surface, but now, at long last, we have the real deal: a laser scanned reproduction of the Snaefell Mountain course, all 37.73 miles and 264 corners of it.
And it is a glorious thing. Set out from Douglas Bay, across Bray Hill and out into the wilds; go forth to conquer corners with such bucolic names as Ballacrye Bend, Kerrowmoar and Brandywell. It’s a country ride that’s been fully weaponised; long and winding canopied roads giving way to small villages with their Spar supermarkets and please drive responsibly signs, all passing at eye-watering speeds. Towards the end of a lap, which takes just under 20 minutes to complete, there’s the Snaefell mountain itself, visible from some miles away and looming ever larger until you’re on its climbs and ascending into the heavens. The sense of place is impeccable.
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