In Top Gear, a BBC motoring show, one of the regular features of the show is various forms of races the presenters undertake, either against each other or invited guests. The show has featured a number of epic races, where Clarkson or one of the other presenters drives a car against other forms of transport, typically starting from the studio in Guildford and involving Hammond and May taking the same journey by combinations of plane, train or ferry. May has also said that the races are planned to be as close as possible. So far, the car has won every race except for the cross-London epic, in which the car was beaten by a bicycle, a boat on the Thames and public transport, and Car vs. Boat, in which the boat won, but James May would still prefer being in the car.

Aston Martin DB9 vs. French TGV - Distance 900miles[]

Clarkson drove an Aston Martin DB9 from the Dunsfold studio in Surrey to Monaco against Hammond and May who took the Eurostar and the TGV. Hammond and May walked two miles to a bus stop, took a bus to Guildford railway station and went on a train to London Waterloo. From there they took the Eurostar to Gare du Nord, the RER to Gare de Lyon, the TGV to Nice, then another train to Monaco. During the race, May compared the contest to the earlier Blue Train Races won by a Rover Light Six and Bentley Speed Six against Le Train Bleu or The Blue Train. Though the result was edited to seem quite close, James later revealed in a radio interview that Clarkson had actually beaten them by almost an hour. Winner: Car Series Four, Episode One

Ferrari 612 Scaglietti vs. Passenger Jet - Distance 650miles[]

Clarkson tried to beat Hammond and May from the Dunsfold studio in Surrey to Verbier, Switzerland in a Ferrari 612 Scaglietti. Hammond and May got a bus to Guildford, took a train to Woking, got a RailAir coach to Heathrow and a plane to Geneva. After landing Hammond and May took the train to Martigny and La Chable, before getting on a coach to Verbier. This proved to be the closest Top Gear race ever, as Clarkson overtook Hammond and May on the main street of Verbier. Winner: Car Series Five, Episode Eight

Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren vs. Cruise Ferry[]

Hammond and May raced Clarkson in a Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren from Heathrow airport to Oslo, Norway. May & Hammond flying to Newcastle then taking the ferry to cross the North Sea to Kristiansand, Norway and using a speedboat to Oslo. While Clarkson, in the Mercedes-Benz super-car, had to drive over 1,300 miles (~2,100 km) through the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Denmark (stopping to rest overnight), Sweden and Norway. On the way from Kristiansand to Oslo, aspiring to their first epic race win, the engine on Hammond and May's speedboat burnt out while the back-up chase boat's hull was damaged (and Hammond getting sick over the boat), severely spoiling their lead. They had to land in an unknown town, taking hours to find a bus and get to the destination, leaving Clarkson to win the race, fly back to England, get home, and be halfway through supper before Hammond and May arrived at the destination. Winner: Car Series Six, Episode Six

Bugatti Veyron vs. Light Plane[]

Clarkson in a Bugatti Veyron raced Hammond and May in a Cessna 182 from Alba to Tower 42 in London to deliver a truffle. Hammond and May rode scooters to the local airport; and planned to fly directly to London, but had to fly via the French Riviera since the aircraft was not equipped to fly over mountains above 10000' (in this case the Swiss Alps). While catching up to Clarkson, May had to land in Lille as he was not licensed to fly at night. From Lille, May & Hammond took the Eurostar to London, and then a bus for the final leg of the journey. This race was also one of the closest races ever. However, the race was criticised as May & Hammond had go through lengthy pre-flight checks, fly via the French Riviera and land in Lille before it got dark. Winner: Car Series Seven, Episode Five

Polar Race - Toyota Hilux vs. dog sled[]

Main article: Top Gear: Polar Special

Clarkson and May drove a modified Toyota Hilux against Hammond, Matty McNair and a dog sled team in a race across the Canadian arctic. Clarkson and May won the race and became part of the first successful attempt to drive a motor vehicle to the North Magnetic Pole. Winner: Car

London Race - Car vs. Bicycle vs. Boat vs. Public Transport[]

May in a Mercedes-Benz GL-Class raced Hammond on a Specialized Sirrus Limited hybrid bicycle, The Stig using the London public transport and Clarkson by motorboat from Kew across to London City Airport. The Stig started on a bus, got on the Tube before taking the DLR. The bicycle was the winner by a fair margin, Clarkson in the speedboat came second, The Stig came third and finally, and disappointingly, the car came last. Despite the result shown in the film the presenters mockingly denied this outcome and insisted that May in the Mercedes-Benz won the race fairly and foremost. This race is notable for being the only Top Gear Race in which the competitor using a train, beat the competitor in the car, Winner: Bicycle Series Ten, Episode Five

Nissan GT-R vs. Japanese Public Transit System (Including the Bullet Train)[]

Clarkson drove a Nissan GT-R through Japan from Hakui, Ishikawa to Mount Nokogiri, while Hammond and May took public transport, most notably the 188 mph Shinkansen. First they took an "ordinary" train from Hakui to Kyoto, before getting on the bullet train to Yokohama, they then had to take the Yokohama Subway to Yokohama Station, where they got on the suburban train to Kurihama and caught the bus to the ferry. While in Tokyo, Jeremy turned the satnav system off in the GT-R, costing him 45 minutes and May & Hammond took the lead. They however were separated when their train split. They eventually regrouped when Hammond asked May to hold the bus. They then crossed Tokyo Bay on a ferry. From the ferry Hammond and May used bicycles (carried in their suitcases) to the cable car which got them up to the top of Mount Nokogiri. This was known as one of, if not the, closest finish in these type of races on Top Gear, as it was later revealed that Clarkson finished literally minutes before Hammond and May. Winner: Car Series Eleven, Episode Four

Fuel Economy Race - Car vs. Car vs. Car[]

With the team booked to switch on the famous Blackpool Illuminations, the three were presented with a challenge to determine which one of them would get the honour of actually throwing the switch. This took the form of a race from Basel in Switzerland to Blackpool, taking a route of their choice and using any unmodified production car they chose, with the restriction that they were only allowed to use a single tank of fuel. May selected a Subaru Legacy Diesel, Clarkson a Jaguar XJ and, to the scorn of his compatriots, Hammond chose a Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion. Clarkson bought the Jaguar since he said they cannot go from Basel to Blackpool on one tank of fuel, claiming "If you're gonna fail, you may as well fail in style & comfort". Before leaving France he figured out if he went fast enough, he could run out of fuel a few minutes from his house. However, Clarkson failed to run out of fuel - arriving in Blackpool shortly after Hammond. May did eventually finish, albeit 40 minutes after the celebration. All competitors chose their own routes, taking differing routes through France but all crossing the channel via Calais and Dover, which put Blackpool out of the theoretical range of all the chosen vehicles. With seconds to go before the switch-on, Richard, despite winning, claimed Jeremy should switch the light, but Jeremy declined, however the honour of performing the ceremony fell to the Stig during the argument. Winner: Volkswagen Polo. Series Twelve, Episode Four

Ferrari Daytona vs. Powerboat[]

Hammond drove a Ferrari Daytona against May and his co-driver in an XSR 48 powerboat from Portofino to Saint-Tropez. Both were stopped by the Italian police at different points to check documents, with Hammond having to follow the police to a nearby police station. Winner: Boat. Series Twelve, Episode Five

Race to the North - Car vs. Motorbike vs. Steam Locomotive[]

Main article: Top Gear Race to the North

On 25 April 2009 the BBC filmed a private charter train hauled by the brand new steam locomotive 60163 Tornado. Clarkson on the train raced James May in a 1949 Jaguar XK120 and Richard Hammond on a 1949 Vincent Black Shadow from London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley. Tornado completed the run in exactly 8 hours, with four stops for water, while May and Hammond were restricted to the A1 Road (no motorways were built in 1949). Winner: Car. Series Thirteen, Episode One

Car versus... challenges[]

  • Car vs. aerobatics plane: Hammond presented a race between The Stig in a Radical SR3 against British Aerobatic Champion, Tom Cassells,[1] in a CAP 232 Aerobatic Plane around the Top Gear test track. Series One, Episode Nine
  • Car vs. racing pigeons: May used a Ford SportKa equipped with satellite navigation to compete against racing pigeons in a point-to-point race. Series Four, Episode Four Winner: Racing Pigeons
  • Car vs. snooker player: Ronnie O'Sullivan had to pot 14 snooker balls while his Mercedes-Benz SL500 was raced around the Top Gear test track by The Stig. Series Four, Episode FourWinner: Snooker Player
  • Car vs. all-terrain skateboarder: Hammond presented a pair of races on the "Green Mile", a half-mile downhill course in Wales, between double world champion all-terrain skateboarder Tom Kirkman[2] and a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII Group N rally car, and then a Bowler Wildcat, both driven by Ben Collins. Series Five, Episode Two Winner: Car (Bowler Wildcat) Skater (Rally Car)
  • Car vs. bobsleigh: May co-piloted a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Rally car driven by Henning Solberg, raced Hammond and the Norwegian Olympic bobsleigh team down a mountain in Lillehammer, Norway. Series Five, Episode Eight (repeated in the Winter Olympics Special)Winner: Bobsleigh
  • Car vs. marathon runner: Clarkson raced a Fiat Nuova Panda against marathon runner A.C. Muir around the London Marathon circuit during the morning rush-hour. Series Six, Episode Seven Winner: Runner
  • Car vs. snowmobile - over water: Hammond visited Iceland and raced a modified off-road vehicle against a snowmobile over Lake Kleifarvatn. Series Six, Episode Ten Winner: Snowmobile
  • Car vs. rock climbers: Clarkson, in an Audi RS4, competed against two rock climbers, Leo Houlding and Tim Emmett, in a race from the bottom of a French gorge to the top. Soon afterwards, they both had a race down the gorge. Series Seven, Episode Two Winner: Rock Climbers
  • Car vs. urban downhill cyclist: May raced a Renault Clio III down the narrow streets of Castle of São Jorge's district in Lisbon against downhill bike racer Gee Atherton. Series Seven, Episode Four Winner: Cyclist
  • Car vs. greyhound: Hammond drove a Mazda MX-5 against Ireland's most expensive greyhound, Mama Tina, around Shelbourne's greyhound track in a one-lap pursuit style race. Series Seven, Episode Six Winner: Greyhound
  • Car vs. speed skater: Clarkson, in a Jaguar XK8, raced against speed skater Eskil Ervik around a speed skating track. Winter Olympics Special Winner: Skater
  • Car vs. trail of fuel: Clarkson raced a Chevrolet Corvette Z06 against a trail of fuel. The race began when the quarter mile trail of gasoline was lit. Series Eight, Episode Two Winner: Car
  • Car vs. motor powered kayak: Hammond visited Iceland and raced a TVR-powered Tomcat 4x4 against a motorised kayak, piloted by its inventor Shaun Baker[3], over Jökulsárlón. Series Eight, Episode Two Winner: Kayak
  • Car vs. parachutist: Hammond raced two miles (3 km) against a British army parachutist in Cyprus with a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. Series Eight, Episode Four Winner: Parachutist
  • Car vs. traceurs: May raced two traceurs, Daniel Ilabaca and Kerbie, over six miles (10 km) across Liverpool in a Peugeot 207 1.6L Diesel, from the edge of the city to the Liver Building. Series Eight, Episode Seven Winner: Traceurs
  • Car vs. fighter jet: Hammond raced a Bugatti Veyron against a Eurofighter Typhoon, piloted by RAF Squadron Leader Jim Walls, to see which one could travel two miles faster (the Bugatti along a runway and back, the Eurofighter climbing a mile straight up and back down). Series Ten, Episode Three Winner: Fighter Jet
  • Car vs. rollerblades: Hammond drove an Aston Martin V8 Vantage against Dirk Auer, a man on roller skates with a turbo powered rocket backpack, in a straight half-mile drag race. Series Ten, Episode Five Winner: Car
  • Car vs. tall man: May used an Alfa Romeo 159 in a race against Graham Boanas, to discover who could cross the 1.5 mi (2.4 km) wide[4] Humber River faster without using the Humber Bridge. Series Ten, Episode Six Winner: Tall Man
  • Car vs. BMX bikes: May travelled to Hungary and raced a Fiat Nuova 500 against some BMX cyclists through the streets of Budapest. Series Ten, Episode Nine Winner: BMX Bikes
  • Car vs. skiers: Hammond travelled to Les Arcs in the French Alps to race an Audi RS6 estate against two skiers, Antoine Montant (the Columbia world speed flyer champion 2007) and François Bon[5], down a mountain from Arc 1950 to Villaroger. (Note: Hammond had to find his way around the village to find the pub, giving the skiers extra time) Series Eleven, Episode Two Winner: Skiers
  • Car vs. hunters: Clarkson and Hammond travelled to Gloucestershire to combine Green Laning and Fox hunting into a new sport where the prey is a 'green laner' in an off-road vehicle. Clarkson raced a Daihatsu Terios nine miles cross-country to the designated finishing point at Tewkesbury Park, while Hammond and a group of hunters chased him. Series Eleven, Episode Five Winner: Hunters
  • Car vs. Royal Mail: Hammond and May drove a Porsche Panamera in a race against a letter delivered by Royal Mail from one end of the UK to the other. Series Thirteen, Episode Four Winner: Royal Mail
  • Car vs. British Army: Clarkson, in a Mitusbishi Evo 7 raced 5 miles (8 kms) around a plainfield in Dorset, against a team from the British Army. Army vehicles used during the race included the Jackal, Mastif, Panther and Trojan. At one stage Clarkson hid beside the Trojan ending up with the Trojan ripping off part of the car's roof. Series Thirteen, Episode Four Winner: British Army

Small races[]

  • Old cars vs. new cars — road circuit aka Top Gear Generation Game: five of Clarkson's older cars versus five of Hammond's modern vehicles. The pairings were: Golf GTi MKI vs MKIV, Toyota MR2 old vs new, Ford Escort RS Cosworth vs Focus RS, Peugeot 205 vs 206, Nissan 300ZX vs 350Z. Series Three, Episode Eight
  • Diesel vs. petrol: A race between Clarkson in a diesel Skoda Fabia and Hammond in a petrol Mini Cooper to see if diesel had caught up to petrol. Series Four, Episode Eight
  • RWD vs. 4WD — rally special stage: May took The Stig to an indoor exhibition rally track of the World Rally Championship at the Millennium Stadium to compare the RWD and 4WD Porsche 997 Carrera. Series Seven, Episode Five
  • Old cars vs. new cars — hill climb: May and Hammond oversaw a race against the clock at the Prescott Hill Climb course, which featured an Austin-Healey Sprite and a modified Peugeot 306, both driven by The Stig. Series Seven, Episode Six
  • Real life vs. a computer game — road circuit: Clarkson travelled to the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to compare a real life lap in a Honda NSX with one he did earlier using the same car in the PlayStation 2 game Gran Turismo 4. Series Seven, Episode Six
  • Biathlon: Clarkson (in a Volvo XC90) raced May (in an Audi Q7), in a car-biathlon, with cross-country driving instead of skiing. Winter Olympics Special
  • RWD vs. 4WD — off-road slalom: Clarkson (in a RWD Jaguar XK) and May (in a 4WD Land Rover Discovery) created a slalom course on a frozen lake and raced against the clock. Winter Olympics Special
  • Hybrid vs. petrol - fuel economy part 2: Clarkson then held a race between a petrol BMW M3 and Toyota Prius to see if hybrid cars really are more economical than petrol. This wasn't really a race, but a test to see which car used more petrol as the M3 followed the Prius around the Top Gear test track for 10 laps. Series Eleven, Episode One

External links[]

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