Episode two starts in the tent, but it’s not long before we find Jeremy Clarkson driving through “the concrete canyons of Manhattan” in a Ford GT. It’s “the fastest, most beautiful, and most expensive car Ford has ever made,” says Clarkson. But why is Jezza in New York?
- 2016 Honda NSX first drive
- The 221mph electric hypercar Hammond crashed
- No replacement for displacement: the 25 cars with the biggest engines
The race to Niagara Falls
Quite simply, to find out what’s quicker to Niagara Falls: the Ford GT or an airliner. Obviously, Clarkson takes the 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged 647hp GT, hoping to make some use of the 216mph top speed and 2.8 sec 0-60mph time. May, on the other hand, will be using public transport.
Hammond on crutches
May thinks he’s got this race in the bag, before Clarkson points out that he’s “got a handicap”. The camera then pans to Richard Hammond, who arrives on crutches. He’s suffering from the effects of his crash in the Rimac Concept One, much to the annoyance of ‘Mr Slowly’. Later, May points that they missed a train because Hammond doesn’t know how to slow down when it says ‘finish’ across the road. Ouch.
The race is on
There’s a feeling that we’ve been here before. A Clarkson vs. Hammond and May battle, complete with photo finish finale. Who will emerge victorious following the 420-mile race? That would be telling.
Hammond and May
It’s fair to say that Hammond and May aren’t huge fans of American public transport. Hammond is body searched at JFK airport, while the pair have to endure the indignity of flying economy class. #FirstWorldProblems
“I have been turned into Richard Hammond by six hours in that car,” said Clarkson, as he makes his way from the Ford GT to the finish line. This follows a claim that the GT has “literally the hardest ride of any car he has driven”. Not that he didn’t enjoy it, comparing the fast Ford to a “mad Caterham” when you put your foot down.
Mercedes-AMG GT R
Back in the UK, Jeremy Clarkson takes to the Eboladrome to test the Mercedes-AMG GT R. The ‘Beast of the Green Hell’ is powered by a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8, developing a mighty 585hp. It will accelerate to 62mph in 3.6 seconds, before going on to reach a top speed of 198mph. The price: £143,260.
If you want a Porsche…
But Clarkson and the team aren’t fans, claiming that if you want something that’s like a Porsche, you should buy a Porsche. On the plus side, the GT R sets the third fastest time around the track, sitting behind the Aston Martin Vulcan and McLaren 650S.
Celebrity Face Off
In this week’s Celebrity Face Off, it’s cricket vs. baseball, as Kevin Pietersen takes on Brian Wilson. Both drivers take to the track in the Jaguar F-Type Coupe, to find out who is the fastest person who makes a living by throwing and hitting and catching small balls. Who wins? Put it this way: it’s extremely close.
Season 2, Episode 1
If you missed the first episode of The Grand Tour (where have you been?), he’s a recap of what happened when the boys went to Switzerland. The challenge was, quite simply, to find out which is best: the past, the present, or the future? Over to you, Jezza…
Supercars do battle
“We all know how that ends,” quips Jeremy Clarkson as the first challenge of the new season is introduced. Yes we do: with Hammond, in an air ambulance, after crashing. Again.
Things started out bang on form: Clarkson, the Neanderthal, was representing the past, with the 730-horsepower Lamborghini Aventador S, all 6.5-litres of snorting, gasoline-guzzling V12. In far-from-subtle bright yellow.
James May, the “crisp and contemporary” sophisticat of the trio, was showing off the present, with the hybrid Honda NSX. It has 581hp, from combining a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 with three electric motors. It can both run on electric and do 0-60 mph in under 3.0 seconds.
Hammond, we know, is in the future – the all-electric Rimac Concept One. The Croatian company was founded by Mate Rimac, and Forbes described the firm as “a company that’s cooler than Tesla”. The Concept One is an all-electric supercar described as having around 1,200 hp.
The location for the challenge was Switzerland. Rather improbably, the boys’ base was a natural detox retreat.
It was EV-driving Hammond who was in charge of the challenge, and he even chose the hotel, despite it not serving beer or anything tasty. What was he thinking? We can’t imagine. Hold on, what’s that in his hand…
Naturally, after driving through beautiful mountains and scuppering Hammond’s plan to keep driving in between electric chargers, the boys decided to have a race.
Clarkson was, of course, brimming with confidence, as his car was the lightest, and the noisiest, and the thirstiest. With an empty airfield to play with, Clarkson of course decided to then have a hoon. Which resulted in the destruction of one massive Lamborghini rear tyre. “The tyre pressure warning light came on,” he said. “I ignored it.”
Run to the hills
And then to the big finale – and THAT incident. Although you can’t go circuit racing in Switzerland, you can go hillclimbing. And it was only 200 miles from the hotel. “Which was fine, for some of us,” says Clarkson.
As for Hammond’s range-limited EV, well… “People don’t ride their race horses to the Grand National, do they,” he muses…
They finally got there, to “the most beautiful hillclimb event in the world”. First up, Clarkson, who discovered he couldn’t actually fit in the big Lambo with a helmet on. But who’s that over there – why, it’s Lamborghini test driver Giacomo Barri, who has curly hair and looks a bit like an early-1990s-spec Clarkson. Jezza had a plan…
May was next, sauntering up the hill with inevitably the slowest time to his name.
Then, Hammond, in the Rimac – but first, a ‘pep talk’ from Clarkson and May, about how the whole of Croatia was there expecting him to set a new course record.
This was Hammond’s face just before he set off…
… and this was the result. Yes, that crash, another Hammond crash, with another air ambulance summoned for him. But did he get the fastest time before crashing after the finish line?
Celebrity Brain Crash is no more. “You all hated it,” said Clarkson. Instead, it’s a new spot, Celebrity Face-Off, where two people working in the same field go head-to-head in a Jaguar F-Type Coupe (a 300hp 2.0-litre turbo). This week – which is the fastest former talent show judge, Ricky Wilson or David ‘The Hoff’ Hasselhoff?
Kaiser Chief’s Wilson looked pretty handy on the new Celebrity Face-Off course, which is part tarmac, part gravel. The Hoff, meanwhile, was less handy. On his practice lap, he stopped just shy of the finish line, for no discernible reason. He did get better on his timed lap – you’ll have to head over to Amazon Prime to find out just how well he did.
Oh, and that drag strip race? Yes, it was the Rimac that won, by a ludicrous margin. It’s worth tuning in just to see how much faster than the Lambo and Honda it is. The future wins this challenge: can it beat the past and the present to grab overall spoils in The Grand Tour’s first Season 2 challenge, though?