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Driving Test: Mark Cavendish
We’re in the middle of the Tour de France. This is an event where people willingly destroy their bodies by doing 2,000 miles around Europe on bicycles.
One man who participates in this event is BBC Sports Personality of the Year, 2011, Tour de France green jersey winner, current road racing world champion - Mark Cavendish. We sat down with him to talk cars…
Did you pass your driving test first time?
I didn’t! Second time for me. I pulled over before the brow of a hill and couldn’t see over the top. That wasn’t right.
Who taught you to drive?
Well, I remember the first time I drove. My dad was into flying, and we were at an airfield. He left me in the car while he went up in the plane, so I just jumped into the driver’s seat and went for a drive. It was a hire car. After that, I had a proper driving instructor, Gavin Morling, on the Isle of Man. A good man, who always went straight to the point, and, if you messed up, he’d be onto you. He had a Suzuki Swift - it wasn’t the Sport, unfortunately, but it was canary yellow.
What was the first car you bought?
After I passed my test, my dad got me a Citroen AX - the Salsa edition, I think. The first thing I bought with my own money was a Lexus RX400 (the V8, not the hybrid).
And the worst car you ever bought?
I had a 1992 short-wheelbase Merc G-Wagen AMG. I loved it, but everything was wrong with it. I ploughed a fortune into it, but it was cursed. The engine was f****d. Bodywork was f****d. Interior was f****d. Nothing went right with it. It was the worst investment of my life, let alone the worst car.
What about your best car?
I’ve got a Range Rover, the 5.0-litre supercharged V8. It’s wicked and stupidly quick for a three-tonne car. My girlfriend loves it! It’s comfy, you can get a kiddie seat in the back and some bikes in the boot. But really, I just want to sit low down in a sports car…
Us too. So what’s the dream machine?
I can’t wait to get my MP4-12C. It’s not built yet, but I almost had a tear in my eye when I saw the virtual version. They’ve even invented a colour for me: McLaren Cavendish Green. McLaren designed my race bike - the one I won my world championship on - and I’ve talked to Jenson about going for a ride, but he’s always off racing or doing ironman stuff. Bet he’s good, though…
Reckon you’re a good driver then?
I don’t know! Any man is gonna say they’re good, aren’t they? I can drive a car and have fun with it. Actually, track days have taught me lots about weight distribution, and I use those skills on the bike, but I don’t think I’ll be competing in F1 any time soon.
How clean is your licence?
Immaculate, and it’s always been that way. I grew up on the Isle of Man - so a white circle with a black line means ‘go as fast as you can’. It’s absolutely my favourite place to drive… the roads are wicked.
Agreed. And finally what’s the worst thing a passenger can say to you?
It’s when they flinch. I hate that. I’m in control, ok?