No room for mistakes

2012-06-14 00:00

DURBAN will sound like Monaco on race day at the weekend, with scores of professional drivers, including one at the wheel of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One car, roaring around the Moses Mabhida stadium on a 2,4 km street circuit that leaves absolutely no room for error.

Inside the stadium Top Gear Live will bring fans a world record attempt double loop-the-loop, dubbed the “Deadly 720”.

The stunt, never performed before, will require the driver to execute a single 360-degree loop on a specially constructed track, followed immediately by a second 360-degree loop.

While a thrilling spectacle, this well-rehearsed stunt will not be nearly as dangerous as the action from several races to be held between the concrete barriers outside.

The biggest race of the weekend will see 30 drivers squeeze their evenly matched Polos between the barriers at high speed on Saturday and Sunday for round five of the national WesBank Super Series in the Engen Volkswagen Cup.

One of the racers who grew up in Durban, Sudhir Matai, (VW Motorsport/Aztech/CAR Magazine) said that to drive very fast on bumpy and narrow city streets was as dangerous as it gets.

“There is no kitty litter if you get bumped or run out of talent — only a concrete barrier,” said the young associate editor of Car magazine, who has been shunted twice this season in what fans relish as the “red mist race”.

Back inside the stadium, fans can say a silent prayer for the driver strapped into the specially built buggy that will be used in the “Deadly 720”.

Top Gear Live’s creative director, Rowland French said their calculations show that entering either loop at just 3,2 km/h too slow will cause the buggy to fall down from the apex of the loop. Go in too fast and the G-force could cause the driver to lose consciousness.

“Adding the second loop … multiplies the danger by more than two and creates the very real possibility of the buggy falling out from the top of the second loop. There are absolutely no margins for error, which is probably why no one has ever been mad enough to try it before,” said French.

Due to the next season of BBC’s Top Gear being postponed to make space on air for the 2012 London Olympics, it has been confirmed that Jeremy Clarkson will join presenters Richard “The Hamster” Hammond and James “Captain Slow” May in Durban.

The show will also feature a mock-up of the Top Gear set for fans to see how the trio manages to attract more than five million viewers to each episode of what is essentially a programme about cars.

More than 55 000 tickets have been sold and organisers have warned fans the show is too loud to take children under the age of four.

The Top Gear street circuit loops along Masabalala Yengwa Avenue and Sandile Thusi Road, through the Natal Command site, past Suncoast Casino and the King’s Park Pool.

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