Top Gear trio Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May came to wow Durban with one of the world’s top live motoring events, but they were wowed by Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium, the weather and mostly by the 64 000 fans at Top Gear Festival over the weekend.
“You’ve got to be, without doubt, the best fans in the world,” Clarkson said, to a huge roar from the audience at one of the live shows inside the stadium.
“Durban is an astonishing city and Moses Mabhida is an amazing stadium… I have never seen anything like it in the world,” Clarkson said at the tribute dinner honouring Durban-born former McLaren F1 car designer Gordon Murray on Friday.
It was a sentiment Clarkson and crew mentioned several times during the two-day spectacle that included four live stadium shows; street track racing and stunts; an extensive supercar and vintage car exhibition; FMX biking arena; off-road track; supercar auction; stunt school and other side events.
“South Africa is amazing. But, this show in Durban will go down as one of our best Top Gear Live events ever. That’s because this is our first ever show in a stadium and our biggest live audience yet,” said Clarkson.
Hammond tweeted on Saturday: “That was amazing for us! Thank you to a truly wonderful audience in Durban. You made us feel worthwhile.”
May also “chirped” in on Twitter. “Durban: you’ve made three unworthy men very happy. Thank you.”
The hour-long live shows in the stadium were packed and enthralled audiences with supercars, stunts, crazy antics by the Top Gear trio, and flames and pyrotechnics. The show had an Olympic theme, which kicked off with a person dressed as “Queen Elizabeth” jumping off the stadium arch bungee swing.
Both the organisers and the city said the festival was a major success and fans could expect an even bigger and more spectacular event next year.
But, there were organisational hiccups, including too few food stalls at the exhibition area at People’s Park, and alcohol sales, which resulted in several brawls.
There were reports that the tents selling beer and hard liquor were closed by police early on Sunday after the brawls broke out.