- Jeremy tests the Porsche 911 GT2 and Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4.
- The boys each buy a lorry for £5000 and face a series of challenges.
- Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Sir Michael Parkinson.
The show opens with a video giving us a taste of what to expect in season 12. Jeremy starts by introducing the Porsche 911 GT2 sitting in the studio and continues to take it out on to the test track.
Through the screaming and the tire smoke, Jeremy quickly concludes the review of the GT2 as “terrifying”, before opting to drive the new Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4 instead. The new Gallardo is 20kg’s lighter and more powerful than its predecessor. A 5.2L V10 produces 552hp, making it faster than the Lamborghini Gallardo Superleggera and a Ferrari Scuderia, with the only big drawback being the £147,000 price tag. Jeremy decides a drag race is in order and puts the Gallardo LP560-4 up against the 911 GT2. He mentions that the GT2 has ‘Launch Control’, allowing the driver to build the turbo boost up to 30psi before dumping the clutch. The Gallardo however, has something called ‘Thrust Control’, which Jeremy describes as sounding like the hero “in an airport thriller”. The Gallardo easily pulls away from the GT2, beating it by a few cars lengths over the quarter mile. Jeremy continues around the track comparing the two cars handling aspects, saying that the GT2 handles like a “turbocharged newly born albino smoking horse”. On the other hand, he believes that anybody could drive the Gallardo and shows a few small clips of ‘questionable’ examples. Jeremy gives us his final conclusion, “you can have a dog… or a car that can be driven by one”. Both cars are handed over to The Stig for a lap of the track, with the Lamborghini putting in a time of 1:19.5 and the Porsche time being set on fire by Clarkson before it could be placed on the Power Lap Times board.
The news is up next and Jeremy starts with Lewis Hamilton’s narrow Formula One World Championship victory. Jeremy moves on quickly and provides his understanding of the recent financial crisis the world is facing and how it is affecting used car values. The Dacia Sandero gets yet another mention, and James shows pictures of the latest British sports car, the Jetstream SC250.
Next up, the boy’s had been set a task. The producers gave them each £5,000 to buy the best truck they could find and then meet up at the test track for a series of challenges. The trucks arrived and Jeremy was eager to establish who bought what. James went first, introducing his Scania P94D, Jeremy went over his Renault Magnum, and Richard proudly displayed his ERF EC11. The first challenge was then handed to them… They were told to decorate their trucks and meet at Top Gear’s secret alpine test track located in Bedfordshire. Shortly after arriving in their freshly redecorated lorries, they were issued the second challenge of the day. They were each told to demonstrate their lorry driving skills by power sliding their trucks around the skid-pan. The Stig’s lorry driving cousin (Rig Stig) was on hand to demonstrate just how it was done. The boy’s attempt to do the same in their lorries didn’t go as planned, with Jeremy injuring himself in the process.
After seeking medical attention, Jeremy and the boys were handed another challenge. Hitch up a trailer, and drive to Millbrook high speed bowl via the Top Gear alpine handling course (aka Millbrook Proving Ground), which is used by car manufacturers to test their latest models and was also used in the filming of ‘Casino Royale’. But there was a catch, each trailer would contain something ‘fragile’. Richard’s trailer was loaded with a small car that had not been secured. James had to transport an enormous wedding cake, also not secured, and Jeremy’s trailer had a few small bails of straw at the front and an electric fire at the back. After hitching the trailers, the boy’s had just over a mile to drive in simulated traffic conditions before reaching the start of the alpine course. After grinding many a gear and voicing his disgust at the amount of gears lorries have, Jeremy shares his thoughts on just how hard a lorry drivers job is. “I’m not just saying this to win favour with lorry drivers, it’s a hard job. Change gear, change gear, change gear, check your mirror’s, murder a prostitute, change gear, change gear, murder”. A wrong turn along the way landed the lorries on the rough track, a piece of road used to test vehicle suspension. Jeremy’s air ride cab made for a somewhat comfortable trip while Hammond’s ERF didn’t take the bumps so well.
Eventually they arrived at the starting line of the alpine course, where after a shaky start, Jeremy and James found themselves in a drag race to gain the lead. Jeremy pulled ahead by taking the inside of a banked turn that nearly saw the end of Hammond very early on in the challenge. Jeremy soon made the mistake of not changing gears enough and Captain Slow flew past side swiping Jeremy on the way through. The incident left Jeremy’s lorry with severed air lines causing his brakes to jam on, leaving him stranded on the side of the course. Hammond on the other hand was ripping through the gears, completely un-aware that his cargo had literally flown out the back of his trailer during a hill climb.
James was the first to finish, though it wasn’t without incident. Opening the trailer revealed a large mess of what once used to be a wedding cake. Jeremy was still stranded on the side of the road with mechanics working on fixing his truck when Richard crossed the finish line. James and Richard went to inspect the damage on the car loaded in the back only to find it wasn’t there any more. Back to Jeremy and we see his lorry has been fixed and is making up for lost time, but on arriving at the finish line, its clear to see all has not gone well.
Back to the studio where Jeremy introduces the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, Sir Michael Parkinson, who manages to lap the Top Gear track in 1:49.4
The challenge continues and the boy’s have received their next task. The lorries lined up to enter the 2 mile long high speed bowl to see who had the fastest rig. Jeremy’s Magnum managed 80mph, James in the Scania made a dismal 64.6mph and Hammond continued on to nearly 90mph. Next, each lorry would be required to perform a hill start. As an added incentive, each person would have an item of value placed behind their trailers to force them to not roll backwards during the hill start. Jeremy was up first with his beloved drum kit placed only a few feet behind his lorry. His hill start went perfectly, however James and Richard obviously thought it shouldn’t have gone so well, destroying the drum kit and blaming it on Clarkson’s driving. Hammond was up next, and as payback for his drum kit being smashed, Jeremy had brought along Hammond’s Opel Cadet affectionately known as ‘Oliver’. Needless to say, Hammond was rather un-impressed and backed out of the challenge after discovering his lorry could simply not pull the added weight of the trailer up the hill. James was the last to go, with Richard and Jeremy placing his prized grand piano by the back doors of the trailer. The hill start didn’t go so well, with his grand piano ending upside down at the bottom of the hill.
Back at the Top Gear test track and the boy’s had to endure one final challenge to test the speed, braking and toughness of their chosen lorries. Each of them must accelerate to 56mph, drive through an obstacle and stop as quickly as possible. Hammond was first up, driving through the Top Gear Production Office and stopping in a very respectable distance. James was up next, picking up speed and ploughing through 600 filled office water cooler bottles before coming to a stop 40ft further down the track than Richard did. Jeremy’s turn and all that stood between him and a year’s supply of pies was a solid brick wall. The impact was enormous, injuring Jeremy’s neck and ankle in the process. Back to the studio and Jeremy concludes that the Scania P94D was the better truck for the challenge.
“Some say that he sleeps inside out, and that he once had full sex with Russell Brandt’s answering machine. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”
Stig Power Laps
Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car
Sir Michael Parkinson