The history making Top Gear Live Stunt Team has set a new world record by becoming the first to complete a spectacular double loop-the-loop on four wheels. The ground-breaking feat – dubbed the Deadly 720 – was the amazing finale to the first of four Top Gear Festival shows staged in front of a sell-out 15 000+ live audience at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa (15 to 16 June).
Deadly 720 is the biggest, boldest and most technically challenging stunt yet performed by the record breaking Top Gear Live Stunt Team which also rewrote the history books when becoming the first daredevil outfit to complete a single loop-the-loop in an in-door arena.
“We’ve pulled off some pretty outrageous stunts in the past but this was by far the most audacious yet,” admitted Top Gear Live Creative Director, Rowland French. “We were all holding our breaths as the buggy approached the first loop knowing that there were virtually no margins for error – not least as we’d tried this stunt three times pre-event practice and failed on all three attempts. The maths, though, said it was possible to twice defy gravity… but only if we got everything exactly right. Thankfully, we proved our meticulous calculations were right and, having successfully pulled off this crazy Deadly 720, we’ve now made some more history.”
Staged in one of the venues that hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals to a wildly enthusiastic capacity crowd, the breathtaking stunt required pinpoint precision. “To avoid disaster, the buggy had to enter both back-to-back loops at exactly the right speed – too slow and there was the danger that it would have tumbled from the top; too fast and the driver could have blacked out as a result of the extra G-forces,” explained French. “It really was one of those epic ‘I was there’ moments. The fans just went wild.”
BBC Top Gear’s three television presenters Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond who were hosting the action-packed show in Durban also witnessed the precarious Deadly 720.
“It was quite remarkable,” said Clarkson. “As anyone who has seen Top Gear either live or on TV will know, we are much more famous for mucking about and breaking other things like caravans – certainly not for breaking world records! I’m just glad no one asked me to do it… ”
The jaw-dropping stunt featured two giant steel loops positioned just eight metres apart, which the specially prepared buggy had to complete in quick succession. Testing had revealed the extreme G forces involved would have forced the driver’s foot to bury the throttle resulting in the buggy crashing on exit of the loop, so special hand controls were fitted to lock out the accelerator pedal. The buggy’s dashboard was also fitted with a large shift light that went from red to green when speed was sufficient to complete the loops.
To defy gravity not once but twice, the buggy had to enter each loop at between 39km/h and 42km/h. Failing to achieve the minimum speed risked the buggy falling out at the top of the loop. Too much speed would have resulted in an extra G of force on the driver and could have caused him to black out. Moreover, the buggy needed to exit the first loop with sufficient velocity to enter the second loop at the prerequisite speed.
STORY BY TOP GEAR LIVE