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It's outdoors, it’s a race track, it’s cars and the Stig – as well as plenty of other racing drivers, celebrities, and of course, the Top Gear crew. Get to the Top Gear Festival and smell the petrol.
THE tranquillity of northern Joburg will be completely whacked by the ferocious whine of powerful engines and the burnt smoke of screeching tires, when vehicles of all sorts perform intricate tricks and precision stunts at the Top Gear Festival, which debuts on 17 March at the 50-year-old Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit.

F1Former F1 driver David Coulthard will be driving the F1 carThe show will feature an exciting line-up of cars and “driving talent” and will run until 20 March.

It will be hosted by Jeremy Clarkson and his cohorts Richard Hammond and James May. The hilarious, controversial motor journalists from the BBC motoring programme Top Gear have become something of a regular feature in Joburg. They will be joined by the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 Team and South Africa’s former Formula 1 champion, Jody Scheckter, including a host of other guest drivers, presenters and celebrities.

Organisers say the festival will be the largest motoring gathering South Africa has ever seen. “It should be … just brilliant,” says Clarkson.

Top Gear, which is traditionally hosted in a TV studio, is coming to Kyalami as it is an outdoor setting that offers a more interactive experience for the visitor, “expanding it from a ‘theatre show’ to a motoring festival”, says Annie Fyfe-Hitchings, the festival’s publicist.

Highlights will include the Top Gear Stunt Show with all three presenters, drag racing, power testing, time trials, drifting, rallying and off-roading. They will each have a full timetable of special appearances, participating in and commentating on a number of special challenges.

Fyfe-Hitchings says there will be a variety of other exciting outdoor features situated around the track for spectators.

Stunt school
There will be the BP Stunt School, for instance, were professional drivers will show members of the public how to perform stunts such as freestyle motocross and kart tracking. Local motoring reporter Gugu Zulu will perform in a live advertisement in a BP Volkswagen racing rally car.

Top Gear’s helmeted racing driver, the anonymous Stig, will also be in the country, joining legendary driver Sir Stirling Moss; Derek Bell, the five-time winner of Le Mans; Eddie Jordan, the BBC’s F1 pundit and owner of Eddie Jordan Racing; and Nick Mason, the renowned car collector and Le Mans participant.


The Freestyle MotorcrossThe festival features the exciting Freestyle MotorcrossAnother motoring expert, the co-presenter of Fifth Gearon Britain’s Channel Five network, Tiff Needell, will be there, as will Sabine Schmitz, the female motor racing driver who has appeared on Top Gear.

David Coulthard, the Scottish F1 driver, will also be in Joburg. “I’m really looking forward to going to Johannesburg for the Top Gear Festival,” he says. “Tens of thousands of spectators will get the chance to see an F1 car on the race track and witness exactly what it can do,” he promises.

“I don’t think a current F1 car has been to South Africa for a while so I plan to give everyone a true Red Bull experience with plenty of noise and burning rubber.”

Representing South Africa, Scheckter who won the country’s first and only Formula 1 Championship in 1979, will bring his private collection of iconic F1 cars and will be honoured at a special tribute dinner on 18 March.

In addition, a select number of private owners will be given the opportunity to drive their cars on the track.

Top Gear
Top Gear Live is a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Brand Events UK. The live motoring performance incorporates the drama of film and theatre with the thrills and spills of stunts and special effects. It is estimated to have 350 million viewers worldwide. BBC Entertainment, on DSTV channel 120, will air series 15 of Top Gear in South Africa from 16 March at 8.30pm.

“The Top Gear Festival is a spectacular motoring extravaganza which BP as a premium brand is very happy to have been associated with for the past few years. This year’s festival is jam-packed with a dazzling display of over 500 exciting cars and celebrities renowned for their motoring achievements on a global scale,” says Tristao Abro, BP’s brands and insights manager.

Fyfe-Hitchings expects the festival to attract tens of thousands of petrol-heads keen to see the world famous presenters, guest drivers and celebrities in action, and take part in this true celebration of all things motoring.

“The event offers an exciting, full day out for visitors, young and old. Kyalami is ideally located for easy access from all around Gauteng and offers a convenient park and ride facility nearby for festival-goers,” she notes.

Visitors are encouraged to book their tickets early so as not to miss the “most exciting event on this year’s entertainment and motoring calendar”. Tickets for the festival are priced from R365 and include parking. For bookings, go to Computicket.

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