Daniel Ricciardo took over Mark Webber’s seat at Infiniti Red Bull Racing in Formula One, and now he has also taken his lap record at Sydney Motorsport Park. The new Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver’s lap of 1min 11.2330secs was more than two-seconds quicker than Webber’s.
“I wasn’t holding anything back, I figured, if I’m going to set a benchmark I’ll make sure it’s a good one. Even though it was here on a show run, it’s still a quick car around the track. It was one of the strongest F1 cars of its time.” said Ricciardo.
Top Gear Festival host Jeremy Clarkson, was almost lost for words when talking about Daniel’s lap.
“That was almost unbelievable. You climbed into a car you don’t know, tires you don’t understand, on a track you’ve never been to and took almost two seconds off the lap record. That was an astonishing time!”
Aside from breaking lap records there was the return of the Ultimate Speed Showdown. At the previous year’s event, Mark Webber took on MotoGP ace Casey Stoner and V8 Supercar champion Jamie Whincup for bragging rights. However this year the Top Gear team upped the ante by pitting Daniel in the Infiniti Red Bull Racing RB7 against five other challengers.
The challengers included three-time World Superbikes champion Troy Bayliss on a Ducati Superbike. Erebus Motorsports had two cars in the competition, a Mercedes Benz E63 V8 Supercar driven by Will Davison and a Mercedes Benz SLS AMG GT3 with Lee Holdsworth behind the wheel. Neal Bates took to the track in a World Rally Car while Garth Walden rounded out the challengers in his World Time Attack Challenge Vehicle.
Other highlights included the launch of the new McLaren 650S and an exhibition commemorating Ayrton Senna that featured one of Senna’s championship-winning cars, the McLaren MP4/4.
”I’m not the world’s biggest F1 fan,” James May confessed. ”I find a lot of it slightly dull. But Ayrton Senna was an interesting figure and still has a massive following. It’s partly nostalgia for what was an exciting era in F1, and getting to see the machinery. And with these things, I don’t want to be maudlin or melodramatic, but there’s a slight sense of wanting to almost pay your respects at a shrine, which is sort of what we’ve come up with.”