Top Gear pranksters woo big crowds

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Larking about: Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond sit on a couch waiting for James May in a minibus taxi to hook them up. Picture: Luca Barausse.

Durban - They raced each other in contraptions fashioned from discarded kitchen appliances; they were in awe of Moses Mabhida Stadium; and they had something to say about Nkandla.

Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond lived up to their usual, globally popular brand of high jinx and quick wit before an adoring Durban crowd yesterday.

In the penultimate show of the two-day motoring extravaganza, the trio told petrolheads that travelling to South Africa was the highlight of their year, and that Moses Mabhida Stadium was the best in the world – a sentiment Clarkson shared with his 3.5 million Twitter followers at the weekend.

Festival representatives said 30 000 ticket holders had passed through the gates on Saturday, and the same number was expected yesterday.

This was the third year in which Durban had played host to Clarkson, May, Hammond and The Stig.

BLAZE BLOWN AWAY

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Stunt rider Alastair Sayer wowed the Top Gear Festival crowd at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban over the weekend.

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It was the first visit to the city for Jimmy Blaze, who for the final act of yesterday’s show, did a backflip while at the steering wheel of a buggy.

From the beaches to the sunset, he had been “blown away” upon laying eyes on Durban, said Blaze.

For the Alaska native, who is an accomplished snowmobile athlete, this was also his Top Gear Festival debut.

Asked how he felt about having the special honour of closing the show, Blaze said: “I’m such a big fan of the whole thing.

“I’m just stoked to come over and get a high-five from Jeremy and James and Richard. They are even funnier in person.”

The show also featured South African rapper Jack Parow, who arrived on the back of a tow-truck.

Clarkson drove onto the stadium track with smoke coming from the tyres of his Jaguar F-type. May was in a Lamborghini Galardo while Hammond drove a Ford Mustang GT 350.

APPLIANCES, TAXIS & NKANDLA

The trio then tried to outdo each other with electric cars fashioned from ironing boards, washing machines and vacuum cleaners.

Clarkson joked that the cost of his contraption was R1 million less than “Zuma’s house”.

He also kept repeating the phrase “I put it to you” – a reference to Oscar Pistorius’s defence trial advocate Barry Roux’s signature line.

There was a uniquely South African flavour when a mini-bus taxi made its way into the proceedings and was used to tow around Clarkson and May while they sat on a two-seater couch.

The eThekwini municipality expects the festival to contribute about R140 million to the city’s coffers this year.

According to the organisers, the cost of bringing it to Durban is R10m for the city and R15m for the provincial government.

The Mercury


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