Hot lava and tyres don’t mix, as Top Gear has found out

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarThursday, April 8th, 2010

 
 

If you want to get maximum wear from your tyres, your best bet is probably not to drive up to an active volcano and test them to destruction by driving on hot lava.

But, there again, when did Top Gear ever give a flying fig about the practicalities of motoring?

Filming for the latest series has recently been underway in Iceland, one of the world’s major volcanic hotspots due to its position on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the boundary between the Eurasian and north American tectonic plates.

Where better for a spot of extreme motoring?

Local English-language website The Iceland Review has the story: “The presenters of the British motor action television series Top Gear drove a modified jeep onto new scorching hot lava on the Fimmvörduháls mountain pass yesterday. Although the tyres had been cooled, one of them caught fire.”

However, it adds, all went well and the adventurers were able to return from the Mýrdalsjökull glacier unscathed.

Local volcanologist Haraldur Sigurdsson accompanied the production team to the volcano. The website reports that the trip began in a blizzard and it took 10 hours for the team to cross the glacier.

Sigurdsson is reported as saying: “I have worked with many television crews before but never people who were as energetic as these men.”

That’s our boys.

“They always had the back window open with a large camera sticking out. There was a huge pile of snow in their car. But they never stopped shooting.”

The report stresses that rigorous safety precautions were taken and all regulations observed.

That’s good, because some of the flora in Iceland’s interior – composed of tundra and volcanic wasteland frozen for half the year – is so delicate that a single set of four by four wheels can damage it for 25 years or more.

Stringent fines are applied to wrongdoers who cause environmental damage – and it would hardly be the first time the programme has been in trouble on this score.

And, of course, this isn’t Jeremy, James and Richard’s first trip to Iceland.

In season six they tried driving various convertibles across a glacier.

Two episodes later Hammond took a jeep across a lake.

This time modified jeeps based on the Arctic trucks which took the team to the North Pole were used – as opposed to pricey cabriolets or snowmobiles.

A slight disappointment for those who might have been looking forward to May flying across the crater in an airship, Hammond balancing a motorbike across a tightrope and Clarkson doing burnouts in a Ferrari on the very lip of the crater.

Maybe in series 16…?

You can read the full Iceland Review report here.

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