The Top Gear Live show hits Sydney for a four-day spectacular, following on from its popular appearance in Australia last year.

We were lucky enough to score VIP media access to the pre-show function, which was filled with plenty of motoring journalist heavy-hitters and a smattering of VIP guests, including Australian Idol runner-up Shannon Noll and TV host Catriona Rowntree.

I will immediately praise the Festival section of the show. Held outdoors, it featured several marquees and stalls, many of which held an array of exotic and historic cars – including a wealth of winners from the Bathurst 1000. My particular favourite was the 1986 Benetton BMW turbo, which with 1300BHP at its disposal, remains the most powerful F1 car ever produced

A sell-out crowd – bar a couple of vacant seat belonging to those who’d attempted the journey in Alfa Romeos – was present, and showed their appreciation for a very good show.

The show provided evrything the die-hard Top Gear fan would expect: stunts and pyrotechnics (plenty of them!), loads of gorgeous supercars and plenty of politically incorrect banter between the prinicipal hosts, Jeremy Clarkson and James May.

The ring-in host was V8 Supercars driver Greg Murphy – who Clarkson and May hilariously called ‘Greeeeeeg’ every time they addressed him! Perhaps a little out-of-his-depth on the stage relative to the security a V8 driving seat might hold for him, he did an admirable job at short notice. In future, it would be better to have Richard Hammond along for the ride as well.

The central theme – the cars and stunts – were in action on the Arena stage, and there was plenty of chat interspersed through the fast-paced production.

Much was made of the ongoing Holden vs. Ford rivalry, and whever a car was found to be slow to stop, it was immediately branded as having the same brakes as the much-maligned and mechanically questionable Toyota Prius!

The show successfully incorporated a considerable amount of its TV format into the Arena show – for example, having the crowd complete a virtual lap of the Top Geat test track, which many super cars and stars have had the fortune to do.

The ‘Cool Wall’ was successfully recreated in the Arena with the aid of some clever camera technology, and a range of good and not-so-good cars – such as the Aston Martin DBS, Rolls Royce Phantom, Chevy Camaro, BMW 130 – were appraised by the crowdmembers.

Reliant Robin

Following the network’s successful snatching the TV show from the clutches of SBS, Channel 9 rather predictably had its PR machine going in the lead-up to the premiere episode of Season 14 on Tuesday night. Step forward Today host Karl Stefanovic and ex-cricketer Michael Slater for the celebrity Reliant Robin race. Aside from the cars toppling over at every turn, the guests’ appearance was a little listless, and Karl’s obsession with hugging all in sundry was a little off-putting…

Although precision stunt driving isn’t usually my thing, I was impressed with the skill of the Top Gear Stunt Drivers, who demonstrated exceptional skill and precision on the limited space the Arena floor offered.

The Stig also made a welcome appearance at the show’s close, contesting in a well-choreographed gladiator match where he fights the forces of motoring evil in a cleverly-titled ‘Carmageddon’ contest, which he finished with his world-first ‘loop-the-loop’ attempt.

Top Gear Live is an excellent night of live entertainment, and many people will take great enjoyment in watching.

[Images via Top Gear Live]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.