Monday, June 22, 2009

Unmasked: But is Top Gear's Stig REALLY F1 ace Michael Schumacher?

He walked out onto the Top Gear stage to whoops of delight.
But when the elusive Stig lifted his iconic helmet last night he was revealed as none other than Formula 1 ace Michael Schumacher.
Rather than ending years of speculation the long awaited unmasking was instead treated as a joke by the appreciative audience.

Going... The elusive Stig is finally unmasked following years of speculation

Off it comes! The Stig is unmasked... as none other than Michael Schumacher

Here he is! But with a cheeky wink, is Schumacher REALLY the Stig?

Jeremy Clarkson had previously promised that the true identity of the the fearless test driver would be uncovered on the show - the first in the new series.
In his newspaper column Clarkson boasted: 'As a television moment, it's up there with Neil Armstrong walking on the... corpse of JR Ewing.'
And even after 'the Stig' had removed his mask he kept up the pretence, asking him: 'What's your real name? It's just too amazing for words!'

Unveiled: Jeremy Clarkson pretends not to recognise the unmasked Stig

Clarkson then quizzed Schumacher about some of the rumours which surround the mysterious Stig, asking: 'Are you illegal in 17 US states?'
Schumacher, who was Formula One world drivers' champion seven times, replied: 'No, it's much exaggerated. It's only nine.'
The Stig test drives cars around the Top Gear track in Dunsfold Park, Surrey, and trains each week's guest for their lap for the Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car feature.
And perhaps Schumacher had, at least once, worn the Stig's helmet.

Record-breaking: The £1million Ferrari FSX completed a lap of the Top Gear track in a record 1 minute 10.7 seconds

Who's under that helmet? The Stig test-drives a Ferrari FSX last night
On the programme the Stig completed a lap of the circuit in 1 minute 10.7 seconds in a £1million Ferrari FSX - seven seconds faster than ever before.
But despite the big unmasking motoring fans are sure to continue debating just who the real Stig is.

Ben Collins, a former racer and stunt man from Bristol, is thought by many to be The Stig
His identity is a closely guarded secret - although many people have speculated about who inhabits the famous white overalls and helmet.
Some reports insist he is a Norwegian racing car driver, others a Frenchman.
In January it was revealed that the BBC employs no fewer than eight drivers to don his pristine racing whites.

The most high-profile is Heikki Kovalainen, the 27-year-old Finnish Formula One McLaren driver who is Lewis Hamilton's partner.
Forty-one-year-old former GT world championship racing driver Chris Goodwin, from London, has also starred as the Stig.
As has fellow Londoner Julian Bailey, a 47-year-old former Formula One racing driver who raced for the Tyrell and Lotus teams.
Stunt driver Terry Grant from Bushey in Hertfordshire has also slipped into the white racing leathers to become the Stig.

Stunt driver Russ Swift is another who has become the Stig.
Finally, Dan Lang, a Swedish snow mobile racing champion played the Stig in a Top Gear stunt where he jumped a snow mobile off a ski jump.
A source on the show added: 'Look at the pictures of the Stigs from show to show. If you look at the height of Stig in different pictures, that tells its own story.'
However, with the unveiling of Michael Schumacher, perhaps the mystery has finally been solved.

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