Mr Bean blitzes Top Gear track
Car-loving comedian Rowan Atkinson has become the fastest celebrity driver on the popular motoring show Top Gear.
Making his long-awaited debut on the latest episode of the show overnight, Atkinson lapped the track more than half a second faster than the previous record holder.
Atkinson's time of 1:42.2 seconds bested fellow comedian John Bishop's 1:42.8 second lap, and was significantly faster than the previous high-profile record holder Tom Cruise - whose time was a 1:44.2.
"It is remarkable because when Bishop did that time and it was so much faster than Tom Cruise we thought it would never be beaten," Clarkson said on the show.
Atkinson is an amateur racer in historic events in the UK and his driving style was unspectacular but smooth and quick, drawing praise from Clarkson.
"What is interesting is all your times were very consistent, as is the mark of a great racing driver," Clarkson said. "Turns out you're in the wrong career."
The Mr Bean actor's passion for cars is well known but this was his first appearance on Britain's most famous car show. The publicity-shy star said he was reluctant to appear because people assumed he would be quick because he competes.
He currently races an historic Ford Falcon but has previously raced an Aston Martin V8 Zagato and a Renault 5 GT Turbo.
He has written for several leading car magazines and is very particular about choosing the right car to match his various characters. For his latest movie Johnny English Reborn he had Rolls-Royce build a custom car with a unique V16 engine.
His collection of road cars includes a McLaren F1, the one-time fastest car in the world, which he had lent to Top Gear for a previous episode.
He was also famously involved in an accident with the car when he ran into the back of a Rover.
He revealed on the show he has driven more than 65,000km in the three-seater V12-powered machine.
Sydney Morning Herald