- TopGear UK vs TopGear AU: The Ashes.
- Jeremy power tests the new Ferrari 599 GTO.
- Star in a Reasonably Priced Car: Boris Becker.
The episode begins Top Gear Australia taking on their UK counterparts in a sort of “Top Gear Ashes” challenge. Out on the test track, James introduces us to a bunch of British made cars which they can call on; such as the Aston Martin DBS, Jaguar XKR, Caterham Seven, Ariel Atom V8, Bentley Continental & the Range Rover Sport. The Aussies on the other hand, only have the Holden Maloo pickup & the Commodore Saloon. Jeremy, Richard and James sit waiting for the AU hosts to arrive – with Jeremy revealing that he actually booked a prison truck to bring them from the airport to the track. He explains, “I just thought it would be nice for them to arrive back in the country the way their ancestors left.” The van pulls up and out from the back steps Ewan Page, Steve Pizzati and Shane Jacobson – who were all understandably not happy about their mode of transport. To rectify this, the boys let the Aussie’s choose the first challenge – a Working Man’s 1 kilometer drag race. This puts a British commercial vehicle up against a typical Australian commercial vehicle to see which is the fastest. This was a cunning move, as it meant that Shane could go into bat with the Maloo pickup, whilst the British trio have no vehicle available. Luckily however, Jeremy remembered he had a mate who owns a Ford Transit – which soon arrived and with Richard at the wheel, lined up beside the Maloo. Unbeknown to the AU presenters however, was that underneath the van’s aged bodywork hid the running gear from a Jaguar XJ220. The light goes green and the Transit leaves the 380hp Maloo for dead. First blood to the British.
For the next challenge, the art of double-decker cars (previously used for the D-Motor challenge) return for a match against the Aussie’s – this time with a twist. The British team have their cars stacked normally, however the Aussie’s have their top car mounted upside-down – because they’re from “down under”. Since the driver in the top car does the steering work, this puts them at a considerable disadvantage. Since each side needed an extra driver to make a team of four, the British team gets Jodie Kidd, whilst the Aussie’s get professional photographer Darryn Lyons. The cars are loaded up and the race begins. After much body contact and trading of paint, both British cars take the lead – before getting into a fight with each other, letting the Aussie’s catch up. Eventually, the British car driven by Richard and James crosses the line first.
In the news, James jokingly gives us more information about the BMW motorcycle which featured in the previous episode. Jeremy shows us the new Mini Countryman, which gave Jeremy crabs. Richard introduces the Pagani Huayra, the Zonda replacement. Jeremy shows us the new Ford Focus, a car which 275 people purchase per day in Britain alone. James reveals that the Renault Espace is the murderer’s car of choice, before showing us a new car from Mexico – which he forgot the name of.
In the next segment, Jeremy explains the history of arguably one of the best Ferrari’s ever produced – the 250 GTO. Just 36 were produced, and coupled with it’s road racing credentials makes it extremely rare and expensive to purchase. Jeremy stands beside one on the track and explains further, “Because the aluminium body panels were hand beaten over pieces of wood, none of them were quite the same. On this particular example for instance, the drivers door is a centimetre longer than the passenger door.” The 3.0L V12 engines were all different as well – supposedly producing 295bhp – with some producing less and some more. But all of them would do 175 mph. Jeremy continues to look longingly at the car, but there is a problem. “I wish almost more than anything, I could get into this now and take it for a drive. But even though Top Gear is made by one of the world’s largest and richest broadcasting organisations, we simply cannot afford the insurance.” He can however, drive the 288 GTO. The 288 was also built to be a road racer – however the series it was designed for folded before it even got a chance to enter. Due to the lack of racing heritage, you can buy one for as little as £400,000. The last 288 GTO rolled off the production line in 1987, leaving the GTO name dormant – until now.
Jeremy introduces us to the new Ferrari 599 GTO – a £300,000 road car. Jeremy is worried about this, “So they’ve used the GTO name on a road car. That’s brave. That’s like calling your infant son ‘Jesus’. You need to be fairly sure he’s gonna grow up to be something special. Not a burglar.” Jeremy turns the traction control off to see what’s what – despite the fact the track is soaking wet. After some very delicate throttle work, Jeremy still struggles to drive it quickly without spinning. The 599 GTO has a 6.0L V12 which develops 661bhp, which is an insane amount of power to put into a stripped out track style car. Jeremy suggests once you respect this power, and leave the traction control on, the results are very different. It’ll do 0 – 60mph in 3.3 seconds and go on to a top speed of 208mph. The 599 GTO also has a unique feature when you are under brakes – the downshift paddle can be held, to make the on board computer downshift through the gears at exactly the right RPM. The sheer amount of electronic aids in the 599 GTO makes Jeremy feel detached from the whole experience – that he is just a “big lump of meat that’s come along for the ride”. He continues with his biggest criticism of the car – “They called it a ‘GTO’. But it was not designed for racing, so it’s not a GTO. It’s just a limited edition tweaked version, of the car Gordon Ramsay drives.” Back in the studio, we watch the Stig take the 599 GTO for a lap of the track. It returns a time of 1:19.80. This is 0.70 slower than the Ferrari 458 Italia.
In the next segment, Jeremy introduces tennis player Boris Becker as the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. On a wet track, Boris laps a respectable 1:45.90 – the fastest wet lap so far.
Next up, the Top Gear Ashes continue – with the British leading 40 – 5. The next challenge was synchronized drifting. The British go first, with the Stig in the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, and Jeremy in the Jaguar XKR. Next up, the Aussie’s attempted to do the same in the cars provided to them – two very average looking Vauxhall’s. After a few turns, Ewan crashes into Aussie Stig, ending the segment immediately. To cheer up the Aussie’s, the British TG hosts put on a typical Aussie BBQ. The next challenge is “Motorised sheep herding”. Each team must herd a bunch of sheep into an enclosure using motorcycles. The Aussie’s go first, and manage to get all the sheep back in less than 2 minutes. The British on the other hand, couldn’t do it anywhere near as efficiently. The sheep scatter as Richard and James struggle to control it – while Jeremy is unable to get his bike going until a few minutes later. James tries to sneak up on a sheep, causing it to jump over a fence and escape. The remaining sheep escape into the woods – spelling the end of the challenge.
In the final challenge, each team must pilot a Proton Super 2000 rally car through a rally stage. The British will use “James” (read, the Stig) as their driver, while the Aussie’s use Steve Pizatti. Because the Aussie’s were 15.1 points behind on the board, they are given a 15.1 second head start. The Aussie’s set off, followed later by the Brits. Steve is actually a professional racing driver and can guide the Proton confidently around the many dirt corners and crest jumps – but not as fast as the Stig in the Brit’s car. The British eventually catch up to the Aussie’s just before they hit a tarmac section of the stage. Steve preferred the tarmac surface and increased his speed – but he couldn’t outrun the Brits. The narrow track meant it was extremely difficult to pass. The Stig decides to cut across a section of grass and overtakes the Aussie’s to win the event by a huge margin. The British therefore win the Top Gear Ashes.
“Some say that he doesn’t understand the word ‘envelope’, and that he is the only woman in Britain not to have slept with Alan Johnson’s policemen. All we know is he’s called the Stig.”
Stig Power Laps
Ferrari 599 GTO
Star in a Reasonably Priced Car