Top Gear Races

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In Top Gear, a BBC motoring show, one of the show's regular features since 2002 is various forms of racing the presenters undertake, either against each other or against invited guests. The show has featured a number of epic races, where one of the presenters — Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, James May, and occasionally The Stig — drives a car in a race against the others in another form of transport. These races typically involve Clarkson driving the car while Hammond and May take the same journey by combinations of plane, train, or ferry. May has said that the races are planned to be as close as possible {In Top Gear, Series 11 Episode 4 1:01:13}. Of the long distance races so far, the car has won the vast majority of the races, with the exceptions of the cross-London epic, in which the car was beaten by a bicycle, a boat on the Thames and public transport; Ferrari Daytona vs. Powerboat, in which the boat won and Shelby Mustang GT500 vs. High Speed Train, in which the train won.

Races[edit]

Aston Martin DB9 vs. French TGV - Distance 900 miles[edit]

Series Four, Episode One

Clarkson drove an Aston Martin DB9 from the Dunsfold studio in Surrey to Monte Carlo, against Hammond and May who took the Eurostar and the French TGV. Hammond and May walked two miles to a bus stop, took a bus to Guildford railway station, and went on a train to London Waterloo. From there they took the Eurostar to Gare du Nord, the RER to Gare de Lyon, the French TGV to Nice, then another train to Monte Carlo. During the race, May compared the contest to the earlier Blue Train Races, won by a Rover Light Six and Bentley Speed Six against Le Train Bleu or The Blue Train. Though the result was edited to seem quite close, James later revealed in a radio interview[citation needed] that Clarkson had actually beaten them by almost an hour. Winner: Car

Ferrari 612 Scaglietti vs. Passenger Jet - Distance 650 miles[edit]

Series Five, Episode Eight

Clarkson tried to beat Hammond and May in a race from the Dunsfold studio in Surrey to Verbier, Switzerland. Clarkson drove a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Hammond and May got a bus to Guildford, took a train to Woking, got a RailAir coach to Heathrow, and a plane to Geneva. After landing, Hammond and May took the train to Martigny and La Chable before getting on a coach to Verbier. This proved to be the closest Top Gear race so far, as Clarkson overtook Hammond and May on the main street of Verbier. Winner: Car

Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren vs. Cruise Ferry - Distance 1320 miles[edit]

Series Six, Episode Six

Hammond and May raced Clarkson (in a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren) from Heathrow airport to Oslo, Norway. May and Hammond flew to Newcastle, then took the ferry across the North Sea to Kristiansand, Norway and used a speedboat to get to Oslo. Clarkson, in the McLaren Mercedes, had to drive over 1,300 miles (about 2,100 km) through the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark (stopping to rest overnight), Sweden, and Norway. On the way from Kristiansand to Oslo, aspiring to their first epic race win, the engine on Hammond and May's speedboat burnt out while the back-up chase boat's hull was damaged—all while Hammond was getting seasick over the side of the boat—severely spoiling their lead. They had to land in an unknown town (Stavern, in Larvik), taking nearly a day to find a bus and get to the destination—leaving Clarkson to win the race, fly back to England, get home, and be halfway through supper before Hammond and May arrived at the destination. Winner: Car

Bugatti Veyron vs. Cessna 182 - Distance 813 miles[edit]

Series Seven, Episode Five

Clarkson (in a Bugatti Veyron) raced Hammond and May (in a Cessna 182) from Alba to Tower 42 in London to deliver a truffle. Hammond and May rode scooters to the local airport, and planned to fly directly to London, but had to fly via the French Riviera since the aircraft was not equipped to fly over mountains above 10,000 feet—in this case, the Swiss Alps. While catching up to Clarkson, May had to land in Lille, as he was not licensed to fly at night. From Lille, May & Hammond took the Eurostar to London, and then a bus for the final leg of the journey. Winner: Car

Polar Race - Toyota Hilux vs. Dog Sled - Distance Approx. 400 miles[edit]

Series Nine, Episode Seven.

Clarkson and May drove a modified Toyota Hilux against Hammond, Matty McNair and a dog sled team in a race across the Canadian arctic. Clarkson and May won the race, and became part of the first successful attempt to drive a motor vehicle to the North Magnetic Pole. Winner: Car

London Race - Car vs. Bicycle vs. Boat vs. Public Transport - Distance 17 miles[edit]

Series Ten, Episode Five

May (in a Mercedes-Benz GL-Class) raced Hammond (hybrid bicycle[1]), The Stig (using the London public transport system), and Clarkson (by motorboat) from Kew across to London City Airport. The Stig started on a bus, then got on the Tube before taking the DLR. The bicycle was the winner by a fair margin. Clarkson, in the speedboat, came second, the Stig came third, and the car came last. Despite the result shown in the film, the presenters mockingly denied this outcome (by saying things such as Hammond getting killed in an accident and Clarkson's boat exploding which 'killed' him), and insisted that May in the Mercedes-Benz won the race fairly and foremost. The "disputation" of the result can be alluded to the fact that May was stopped by the Metropolitan Police to check the camera car's permit. The loss of time put him into heavy traffic, and cost him further. Winner: Bicycle

Nissan GT-R vs. Japanese Public Transit System - Distance 355 miles[edit]

Series Eleven, Episode Four

Clarkson drove a Nissan GT-R through Japan, from Hakui, Ishikawa to Mount Nokogiri, while Hammond and May took public transport—most notably the 188 mph Shinkansen. First they took a limited express train from Hakui to Kyoto, before getting on the bullet train to Shin-Yokohama, they then had to take the Yokohama Subway to Yokohama Station, where they got on the suburban train to Kurihama and caught the bus to the ferry. While in Tokyo, Clarkson accidentally turned off the satnav system in the GT-R and struggled to turn it back on as the system only spoke Japanese, costing him 45 minutes. By the time he had managed to turn it back on, Hammond and May had taken the lead. However, May and Hammond were temporarily separated when their train split. They eventually regrouped when Hammond asked May to hold the bus. May and Hammond then crossed Tokyo Bay on a ferry, from which they used folding bicycles (carried in their suitcases) to the cable car, which got them up to the top of Mount Nokogiri; however Clarkson had already made it to the summit, just 3 minutes before them. Winner: Car

Fuel Economy Race - Car vs. Car vs. Car - Distance 780 miles[edit]

Series Twelve, Episode Four

With the team booked to switch on the famous Blackpool Illuminations, the three were presented with a challenge to determine which one of them would get the honour of actually throwing the switch. This took the form of a race from Basel in Switzerland to Blackpool, taking a route of their choice and using any unmodified production car they chose, with the restriction that they were only allowed to use a single tank of fuel. May selected a Subaru Legacy diesel, Clarkson a Jaguar XJ and, to the scorn of his compatriots, Hammond chose a Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion. Clarkson bought the Jaguar because, he said, they cannot go from Basel to Blackpool on one tank of fuel, claiming "If you're gonna fail, you may as well fail in style and comfort." Before leaving France he figured out that, if he went fast enough, he could run out of fuel a few minutes from his house. However, Clarkson failed to run out of fuel—arriving in Blackpool shortly after Hammond. May did eventually finish, albeit 40 minutes after the celebration. All competitors chose their own routes, taking differing routes through France but all crossing the channel via Calais and Dover, which put Blackpool out of the theoretical range of all the chosen vehicles. With seconds to go before the switch-on, Richard—despite winning—claimed Jeremy should switch the light, but Jeremy declined. However, the honour of performing the ceremony fell to the Stig during the ensuing argument. Afterwards, it was found Clarkson's car had 120 miles of fuel left, and all three presenters agreed that despite the Polo arriving first, the Jaguar was to be declared the "real" winner.[2] Winner: Jaguar XJ

Ferrari Daytona vs. Powerboat - Distance 206 miles[edit]

Series Twelve, Episode Five

Hammond drove a Ferrari Daytona against May and his co-driver in an XSR 48 powerboat from Portofino to Saint-Tropez. Both were stopped by the Italian police at different points to check documents, with Hammond having to follow the police to a nearby police station. This probably led May to winning the race. Winner: Boat

Race to the North - Jaguar XK120 vs. Vincent Black Shadow vs. Tornado locomotive - Distance 378 miles[edit]

Series Thirteen, Episode One

Tornado on the race, 25 April 2009

On 25 April 2009, the BBC filmed a private charter train hauled by the brand new steam locomotive 60163 Tornado. Clarkson (on the train) raced James May (in a 1949 Jaguar XK120) and Richard Hammond (on a 1949 Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle) from London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley. Tornado completed the run in exactly 8 hours, with four stops for water, while May and Hammond were restricted to the A1 Road (as no motorways existed yet in 1949). Winner: Car

Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 vs. French TGV - Distance 814 miles[edit]

Series Nineteen, Episode Three

Clarkson raced Hammond and May from Wembley Stadium to the San Siro in Milan, where the winner would get a free ticket to watch AC Milan play Anderlecht in the UEFA Champions League. Clarkson however was restricted to any car he liked that didn't exceed the cost of 35,000 pounds. He decided to drive a Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 while Hammond and May travelled by public transport. They took a combination of bus and commuter train to St. Pancras International, where they then took an early Eurostar train to Paris Gare du Nord. On arrival, they took an RER metro train across Paris to Gare de Lyon before taking a TGV to Milan. They then took the Milan Metro to Lotto Fierra before running to the stadium. With only one ticket up for grabs, Hammond and May raced each other to the finish line. May, who refused to run on television, procured a foldable bicycle out of his bag in hopes of outrunning his colleague. Hammond on foot was nonetheless faster and took the ticket. After the race Clarkson blamed French roadworks for losing him the race. This is the only Top Gear long-distance race in which car is beaten by public transport. Winner: Train

Toyota Auris 1.8L vs. AC45 Sailing Boat - Distance 410 miles[edit]

Series Twenty, Episode One

Clarkson tried to prove that fossil fuels are still superior to alternatives, and raced a blue 1.8L Toyota Auris against May in a AC45 Sailing Boat, helmed by Olympian Ben Ainslie, and crewed by America's Cup winners. The race was from a beach in the north of Coromandel Peninsula to Spirits Bay.[3]

Clarkson based his choice on the fact that hire cars are the fastest in the world because as they do not belong to you, they can be redlined constantly and mistreated.

No direct route exists between the Coromandel Peninsula to Spirit Bay so Clarkson had to drive south before he could turn north, making his journey a much longer 410 miles, over May's direct route of 220 miles. During the race Clarkson abused his car to such a degree it became undriveable, and he was forced to stop, visit a hire car centre, and exchange his broken Auris for another - then hope that May did not notice that his car was now red. May was constantly battered by the rough seas, and lost his satellite phone during the race after being hit by a large wave.

Despite trying to make up ground by using 90 Mile Beach, Clarkson was beaten to the finish line by May, who had a lead of an hour over the car.[3] Also, May noticed that the car was no longer blue at the end of the race. Winner: Sailing Boat

Car versus... challenges[edit]

  • Car vs. aerobatics plane: Hammond presented a race between the Stig, in a Radical SR3, against British Aerobatic Champion Tom Cassells,[4] in a CAP 232 Aerobatic Plane, around the Top Gear test track. Winner: Plane Series One, Episode Nine
  • Car vs. racing pigeons: May used a Ford SportKa equipped with satellite navigation to compete against racing pigeons in a point-to-point race. Winner: Pigeons Series Four, Episode Four
  • Car vs. snooker player: Ronnie O'Sullivan had to pot 14 snooker balls while his Mercedes-Benz SL500 was raced around the Top Gear test track by The Stig. Winner: Snooker Player Series Four, Episode Four
  • Car vs. all-terrain skateboarder: Hammond presented a pair of races on the "Green Mile", a half-mile downhill course in Wales, between double world champion all-terrain skateboarder Tom Kirkman[5] and a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII Group N rally car, and then a Bowler Wildcat, both driven by Ben Collins. Winner Race 1: Skateboarder; Race 2: Car Series Five, Episode Two
  • Car vs. bobsleigh: May co-piloted a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution rally car driven by Henning Solberg, racing Hammond and the Norwegian Olympic bobsleigh team down a mountain in Lillehammer, Norway. Winner: Bobsleigh Series Five, Episode Eight (repeated in the Winter Olympics Special)
  • Car vs. tank: Clarkson raced a Range Rover Sport across a Dorset field before a Challenger 2 tank could get gun lock on him. Winner: Tank Series Six, Episode One
  • Car vs. marathon runner: Clarkson raced a Fiat Nuova Panda against marathon runner A.C. Muir around the London Marathon circuit during the morning rush-hour. Winner: Runner Series Six, Episode Seven
  • Car vs. snowmobile - over water: Hammond visited Iceland and raced a modified off-road vehicle against a snowmobile over Lake Kleifarvatn. Winner: Snowmobile Series Six, Episode Ten
  • Car vs. rock climbers: Clarkson, in an Audi RS4, competed against two rock climbers, Leo Houlding and Tim Emmett, in a race from the bottom of a French gorge to the top. Winner: Rock Climbers Series Seven, Episode Two
  • Car vs. urban downhill cyclist: May raced a Renault Clio III down the narrow streets of Castle of São Jorge's district in Lisbon against downhill bike racer Gee Atherton. Winner: Cyclist Series Seven, Episode Four
  • Car vs. greyhound: Hammond drove a Mazda MX-5 against Ireland's most expensive greyhound, Mama Tina, around Shelbourne Park's greyhound track in a one-lap pursuit style race. Winner: Greyhound Series Seven, Episode Six
  • Car vs. speed skater: Clarkson, in a Jaguar XK8, raced against speed skater Eskil Ervik, around a speed skating track. Winner: Speed Skater Winter Olympics Special
  • Car vs. trail of fuel: Clarkson raced a Chevrolet Corvette Z06 against a trail of fuel. The race began when the quarter-mile-long trail of petrol was lit. Winner: Car Series Eight, Episode Two
  • Car vs. motor powered kayak: Hammond visited Iceland and raced a TVR-powered Bowler Tomcat 4x4 against a motorised kayak, piloted by its inventor Shaun Baker,[6] over Jökulsárlón. Winner: Kayak Series Eight, Episode Two
  • Car vs. parachutist: Hammond raced two miles (3 km) against a British army parachutist in Cyprus with a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. Winner: Parachutist Series Eight, Episode Four
  • Car vs. traceurs: May raced two traceurs, Daniel Ilabaca and Kerbie, over six miles (10 km) across Liverpool in a Peugeot 207 1.6L Diesel, from the edge of the city to the Liver Building. Winner: Traceurs Series Eight, Episode Seven
  • Car vs. fighter jet: Hammond raced a Bugatti Veyron against a Eurofighter Typhoon, piloted by RAF Squadron Leader Jim Walls, to see which one could most quickly travel a distance of two miles (the Bugatti along a runway and back, the Eurofighter climbing a mile straight up and back down). Winner: Jet Series Ten, Episode Three
  • Car vs. rollerblades: Hammond drove an Aston Martin V8 Vantage against Dirk Auer, a man on roller skates with a turbo-powered rocket backpack, in a straight half-mile drag race. Winner: Car Series Ten, Episode Five
  • Car vs. tall man: May used an Alfa Romeo 159 in a race against Graham Boanas, to discover who could cross the 1.5-mile (2.4 km) wide[7] Humber River faster without using the Humber Bridge. Winner: Man Series Ten, Episode Six
  • Car vs. BMX bikes: May travelled to Hungary and raced a Fiat 500 against some BMX cyclists (the traceurs from the previous Liverpool challenge) through the streets of Budapest. Winner: Bikes Series Ten, Episode Nine
  • Car vs. skiers: Hammond travelled to Les Arcs in the French Alps to race an Audi RS6 estate against two skiers, Antoine Montant (the Columbia world speed flyer champion 2007) and François Bon,[8] down a mountain from Arc 1950 to Villaroger. (Note: Hammond had to find his way around the village to find the pub, giving the skiers extra time.) Winner: Skiers Series Eleven, Episode Two
  • Car vs. hunters: Clarkson and Hammond travelled to Gloucestershire to combine Green Laning and Fox hunting into a new sport where the prey is a 'green laner' in an off-road vehicle. Clarkson raced a Daihatsu Terios nine miles (14.5 km) cross-country to the designated finishing point at Tewkesbury Park, while Hammond and a group of hunters chased him. (Note:After that Hammond said that Clarkson was finally eaten by dogs.) Winner: Hunters Series Eleven, Episode Five
  • Car vs. Royal Mail: Hammond and May drove a Porsche Panamera in a race against a letter delivered by Royal Mail from the Isles of Scilly to Orkney. Winner: Royal Mail Series Thirteen, Episode Four
  • Car vs. British Army: Clarkson, in a Mitusbishi Lancer Evolution VII, raced five miles (8 km) around a plainfield in Dorset against a team from the British Army. Army vehicles used during the race included the Jackal, Mastiff, Panther, and Trojan. At one stage, Clarkson hid beside the Trojan, ending up with the Trojan ripping off part of the car's roof. Winner: British Army Series Thirteen, Episode Four
  • Car vs. snowmobiles: Hammond took a modified Volkswagen Touareg to a ski resort in Sweden, in order to race some "Swedish youths" on snowmobiles. The race was a dead heat until the near end, with it all coming down to a drag race across a frozen lake. Winner: Car Series Fifteen, Episode Five
  • Car vs. gravity: Hammond raced one mile (1.6 km) against a Volkswagen Beetle dropped from a helicopter on a salt flat in South Africa with a Porsche 997 Turbo S. Winner: Gravity Series Sixteen, Episode One
  • Car vs. "God": Clarkson, in a supercharged V8 MK IV Jaguar XJ, departed Land's End (England's most westerly point; Britain's most westerly point is at Ardnamurchan in the west highlands of Scotland) at sunset and raced 432 miles (695 km) to Lowestoft (Britain's most easterly point) attempting to arrive before sunrise. The race was held during the Summer Solstice to add an extra challenge. Winner: Car Series Sixteen, Episode Six
  • Car vs. skeleton racer: May returns to Lillehammer and co-pilots a Mini WRC rally car, driven by Kris Meeke, against skeleton racer Amy Williams. Winner: Car Series Seventeen, Episode One
  • Car vs. jet propelled man: Hammond and Finnish world rally driver Toni Gardemeister race the world's first jet propelled man, Yves Rossy, in a Škoda Fabia S2000 around an eight-mile special Welsh Rally Stage. Winner: Man Series Eighteen, Episode Five
  • Car vs. autonomous military machine: May in new Range Rover vs the TerraMax at Nevada Automotive Test Centre, Nevada. Winner: Car Series Nineteen, Episode Five
  • Car vs. quad bike/jet ski hybrid: Hammond in the new Alfa Romeo 4C vs Clarkson in the Gibbs Quadski around Lake Como. Winner: Car, (Clarkson lets Hammond win because doesn't want the Alfa to lose) Series Twenty one, Episode Two

Small races[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gear, Bicycling, http://www.bicycling-gear.com/specialized-bikes.html  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ May: "We have to acknowledge though, that the true hero of this whole piece is that Jaguar."
    Clarkson: "Yeah, I couldn't agree more"
  3. ^ a b http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/s-wrap-top-gear-nz-race-secrets-revealed-5367272
  4. ^ "Tom Cassells". www.skyboard.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  5. ^ "Tom Kirkman". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  6. ^ "Shaun Baker". www.topgear.com. Retrieved 2008-05-08. 
  7. ^ "Graham Boanas". www.creativetalent.co.uk. Archived from the original on 31 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  8. ^ "Antoine Montant and François Bon". www.natives.co.uk. Retrieved 2008-06-30.