Top F1 star for Top Gear Festival

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By Suren Naidoo

Former Formula One World champion Mika Häkkinen will be speeding along Durban’s streets as one of the headliners in this year’s Top Gear Festival in June.

Launching the Top Gear Festival 2013 with city and provincial government officials in Durban on Wednesday, Top Gear Live operations chief James Cooke Priest said that the ‘Flying Finn’ and twice F1 world champion would be one of the big-name guest drivers in town for the show.

Last year’s inaugural event in Durban attracted more than 67 000 enthusiasts and was considered a “fantastic success” by organisers.

“This year’s festival promises to be bigger, better and, in true Top Gear style, even more ambitious than 2012,” he said.

“We will be revealing more highlights and attractions over the next few months.”

The capacity of the seating has been increased to cater for 80 000 fans at the the festival, which will take place on the weekend of 15 and 16 June.

It has also been speculated that Italian motorcycle superstar and world champion Valentino Rossi will appear at this year’s festival, but organisers remain tight-lipped about other highlights.

Priest said that Top Gear presenters Jeremy Clarkson and James May, with “The Stig”, would host the four stadium shows for the festival, but that fellow presenter Richard Hammond would not be there due to other commitments.

MOTORING MEMORABILIA

Fans could expect live stadium shows, a street circuit and a motoring exhibition packed with supercars, classic cars and motoring memorabilia. Roads around the stadium would be closed for the Festival and plans were being finalised for a new street-circuit layout.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for economic development and tourism Mike Mabuyakhulu said the 2012 festival exceeded all expectations and had huge economic spin-offs for Durban. The city and province invested about R30 million last year to host the festival. Mabuyakhulu said the amount invested this year was likely to be less than last year.

eThekwini speaker Logie Naidoo said an independent report showed that last year’s festival generated more than R90 million for the city and exposure to more than 350 million Top Gear viewers worldwide.

Tickets range from R250 for a basic ticket to R2100 for an ultimate village package ticket. - The Mercury

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