Motorsport / Formel 1: GP Frankreich 2000, Mika HAEKKINEN / FIN ( McLaren Mercedes ),, copyright: HOCH ZWEI

Suren Naidoo

FORMULA 1 former world champion Mika Häkkinen would be speeding along Durban’s streets as one of the headliners in this year’s Top Gear Festival in June, festival organisers revealed yesterday.

Launching the Top Gear Festival 2013 with city and provincial government officials in Durban, Top Gear Live operations chief James Cooke Priest said that the “Flying Finn” and twice F1 world champion would be one of the big name guest drivers in town for the event.

Last year’s inaugural event in Durban attracted more than 67 000 enthusiasts and was considered a “fantastic success” by organisers.

“This year’s much anticipated event promises to be bigger, better and, in true Top Gear style, even more ambitious than 2012,” he said yesterday. “We will be revealing more highlights and attractions over the next few months.”

The capacity of the event has been increased to cater for 80 000 fans. The festival will take place on the weekend of June 15 and 16.

It has also been speculated that Italian motorcycle superstar and world champion Valentino Rossi will appear at this year’s festival, but organisers remain tight-lipped about other highlights.

Priest said that Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May, with “The Stig”, would host the four stadium shows for the festival, but that fellow presenter Richard Hammond would not make it because of other commitments.

Fans could expect live stadium shows, a street circuit and a motoring exhibition packed with supercars, classic cars and motoring memorabilia. Roads around the stadium would be closed for the event Plans were being finalised with a new street track design.

KZN MEC for Economic Development and Tourism Mike Mabuyakhulu said the event last year exceeded all expectations and had huge economic spin-offs for Durban. The city and province invested about R30 million last year to host the festival. Mabuyakhulu said the amount invested this year was likely to be less than last year.

The eThekwini Speaker, Logie Naidoo, said an independent report showed that last year’s event generated more than R90m for the city and exposure to more than 350 million Top Gear viewers worldwide.

Tickets range from R250 for a basic ticket to R2 100 for an ultimate village package ticket.