Durban is about to become engulfed in motor mania as Jeremy Clarkson and crew are set to take over the town for Top Gear Festival 2012 this weekend.
The event will take place in and around the Moses Mabhida stadium where hundreds of exciting cars, a long list of celebrities, and a never-ending supply of automotive activities await showgoers. Here’s the skinny on what to expect:
The headline act will undoubtedly be the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team, which will demonstrate its 2011 car on a temporary 2.4km street circuit that forms part of Durban’s old A1GP track. The shrieking Silver Arrow will be piloted by Sam Bird, GP2 Championship winner and test driver for the team.
Joining the Mercedes on track will be a procession of iconic race cars never before seen together in South Africa, spanning the 1920s to the present day in Top Gear Festival’s tribute to Grand Prix Racing and Formula One. Taking to the grid will be a Bugatti Type 35B (1928), Maserati 6CM (1934), Maserati 4CLT (1948) Maserati 250F (1954), LDS MK3 Climax (1967), Lotus 101 (1989) and Benetton B193 (1993).
A long list of exotics will also be present, as Supercar Lifestyle, the group behind SA’s top supercar events, is hosting a parade of around 60 cars from Johannesburg to the venue in Durban.
The cars will be on display in a special paddock after arrival, and some will take to the track.
Top Gear’s masked man The Stig has confirmed some showoff laps in the new Lamborghini Aventador and McLaren’s MP4-12C.
It’s not only the cars that will shine in the Top Gear Festival’s spotlight, and a lengthy list of motoring celebrities will be on hand too. South Africa’s own Formula 1 champion Jody Scheckter, who won the 1979 title with Ferrari, will join the line up reunited with his 1974 Tyrrell 007.
Indian F1 driver Narain Karthikeyan, currently racing with HRT Cosworth, will also be there together with ex-F1 and Le Mans racing driver Tiff Needell, the first lady of Nurburgring Sabine Schmitz, current IRL racer Tomas Scheckter (Jody’s son), and South African-born Gordon Murray who is renowned for designing numerous F1 cars as well as the iconic McLaren F1 supercar of the ‘90s.
Of course, the show wouldn’t be complete without the full cast of Top Gear TV, and making appearances will be Jeremy Clarkson, Richard “The Hamster” Hammond, James “Captain Slow” May, and The Stig.
As with previous Top Gear events, there will be four scheduled stadium shows where Clarkson and his band of merry men will entertain live audiences. These will happen on both Saturday and Sunday at 2pm, and 7.30pm.
SA’s premier circuit racing road show, the WesBank Super Series will stage a round of its championship on the Festival’s street circuit, where four national championship categories – Bridgestone Production Cars, Engen VW Cup, Formula VW and Formula Midas 1600 – will be in action on both days.
The Top Gear Live Stunt Team is aiming for a World Record by attempting a spectacular double loop-the-loop feat in a buggy. Called the “Deadly 720”, the nail-biting stunt has never been attempted before.
Bell equipment has put together an offroad course for 4x4 enthusiasts, a special area has been dedicated to a Classic Car Marque Park, and Aucor will host an auction of some top-end vehicles.
This year’s Top Gear Festival powered by Shell V-Power is expected to attract tens of thousands of petrol heads. Tickets range from R250 for a bronze ticket to R1 995 for a VIP super fan ticket. For more information on ticket prices or to book visit www.itickets.co.za or www.topgearfestival.co.za