The new Ford GT does the slowest ever lap of Silverstone... | Top Gear
BBC TopGear
BBC TopGear
The Latest US News & Reviews
USA News
Monday 4th December

The new Ford GT does the slowest ever lap of Silverstone...

...on a ‘replica’ circuit around London. TG tags along for the ride

  • Have you ever dreamt of driving round the asphalt at Silverstone? Sadly it’s an experience beyond most of us, what with those pesky, well-funded racing drivers taking up most of the racetrack’s time throughout the year.

    However, there might be an alternative. What if you were to map out a Silverstone-esque route on public roads, and drive, um, at snail pace around those instead?

    Enter Ford, whose GT car will feature at the aforementioned circuit this weekend in the season-opener for the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship.

    It will be their first race in Europe following a debut at the Daytona 24 hours that was hindered by reliability problems, something the team will hope to get on top of before their grand return to Le Mans in June.

    So, with time of the essence, what better way to get their eye in for the first WEC race of the year than to coast round an admittedly rough approximation of Britain’s most famous racing circuit?

    No, the layout isn’t exactly the same. No, the actual Silverstone doesn’t have quite as much traffic as central London. And yes, the car is stuck inside a transparent trailer.

    We trust that the immeasurable powers of your imagination will overcome these minor foibles...

    Ready... set... go!

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • Southwark Tube Station / Start-Finish Line

    The lights turn green, and we’re off. When the #95 Aston Martin won the LMGTE Pro class of 6 Hours of Silverstone last year, it had an average lap time of just under two minutes. Our sat nav says that today’s journey should be possible in just over an hour and a half. So not quite in the same league.

  • Blackfriars Bridge / International Straight

    Initial progress is swift. The lights are being kind and traffic is light, although we expect that to change once we get north of the river.

    Inside the support car, the main challenge is staying within touching distance of the truck and its GT cargo behind. Going too fast risks separation at lights and junctions. Too slow and London grinds to a halt. It’s a fine margin.

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • Bank / Village

    The convoy hits congestion, and lots of it. The tight roads are also making manoeuvrability a nightmare, and driver Pat has to rely on all of his skills to guide the truck through the busy streets.

    A left turn looks to have put us in the clear, but no: a bus has broken down in the middle of the road, which forces a deviation from the racing line. We get through without any scrapes, but significant damage is done to the lap time. Not good.

  • Clerkenwell / Wellington Straight

    We’re through the worst of the traffic now, but we’ve been slowed by a series of tight corners as dictated by the direction of the ‘track’. In certain sections, waiting for oncoming vehicles makes this exercise eerily reminiscent of figure-of-eight racing.

    Luckily we find our way onto Farringdon Road; a carbon copy of Silverstone’s Wellington Straight if there ever was one. The average speed picks up, and we begin to recover some of the time lost behind that stricken Routemaster.

  • King’s Cross / Luffield

    Another technical section which requires all of the experience of the driver. Fortunately the support car is able to help out here, hanging back to create some space beyond the lights across from Pentonville Road so the truck can merge more easily. Team orders of the highest calibre.

    Then comes an unexpected obstacle: speed bumps. The truck rolls carefully down Caledonia Street and just about makes it to the other side, its precious cargo in one piece. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief, but there’s a long way to go yet.

  • Angel / Copse

    Unusually we’ve had to make a pit-stop half-way through the lap. It’s not to refuel or replace the tyres though: the batteries in the on-board cameras need changing, which means a 15 minute delay a stone’s throw from Angel Tube Station.

    The GT continues to attract plenty of attention from passers-by, although clearly not everyone is familiar with the World Endurance Championship. “Is it a Formula One car?” asks one pedestrian. A disapproving shake of the head covers all the bases...

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • Shoreditch / Maggots, Becketts & Chapel

    Leaving Angel behind, we take a turn south in the direction of the river again. An hour and a half in already, our target time has gone out the window, but any hope of sneaking home under the two-hour mark also disappears when a pair of width restrictors come into view.

    The support car squeezes through but the gap isn’t big enough for the truck, and it’s left with no choice but to leave the circuit and come the long way round. In our minds, it’s the equivalent of a trip through the gravel trap. Undesirable, but, in this case, necessary.

    And if that wasn’t enough, it then begins to rain. Hard. At least now we have an excuse for the even-slower-than-expected time we’re on course to set.

  • Tower Bridge / Hangar Straight

    Another landmark comes into view, and having picked up some momentum through Whitechapel we hit our top speed of the day: a gravity-bending 20mph.

    Having avoided a disaster with the bridge’s tendency to open at the wrong moment, traffic dives to the kerb to let an ambulance whistle past, sirens ablaze. We decide not to follow on behind for the obvious moral and law related reasons, but also because a decent lap time has long been out of reach anyway.

    This is going to be the slowest lap of Silverstone by quite some margin.

    Advertisement - Page continues below
  • Elephant & Castle / Club Corner

    We’re into the last sector, and the team is keen to cross the line before the cameras run out of juice again. Before then though there are roadworks to negotiate, plus Elephant and Castle’s no-longer-a-roundabout roundabout, which now flows anti-clockwise to add to the confusion.

    Thankfully there are no more mishaps, and a final burst brings the finish line into sight.

  • Southwark Tube Station / Start-Finish Line

    {"fid":"471931","view_mode":"wysiwyg","fields":{"format":"wysiwyg","field_media_video_duration[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","link_text":null,"attributes":{"alt":"Ford GT completes slowest-ever lap of Silverstone Circuit (in London)","height":428,"width":760,"class":"media-element file-wysiwyg"}}

    Two hours, 24 minutes and 29 seconds after we set off, we cross the finish line and bring to an end what must surely be the slowest lap of Silverstone in automotive history.

    In defence of the GT-carrying truck, this lap of Silverstone was much longer than the real world course. While the Grand Prix circuit is 3.66 miles long, our lap came in at 11.9 miles; over three times the length.

    Talk about going the extra mile(s).

    Inexcusable though is the average speed, which stands at a paltry 5.5mph thanks to London’s famous congestion. Perhaps this isn’t a viable alternative to a track day after all...

    But as Ford make clear in the video above, prepare to witness something much, much quicker this Sunday.

More from Top Gear

See more on Ford

Subscribe to the Top Gear Newsletter

Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, you agree to receive news, promotions and offers by email from Top Gear and BBC Studios. Your information will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

BBC TopGear

Try BBC Top Gear Magazine

Get your first 5 issues for £5