‘The Grand Tour’ Recap and reaction: “Operation Desert Stumble”

Graham Host

Starting off their newest show to a brilliant spectacle, last week saw Hammond, May and Clarkson establish their new ‘Ebola-drome’ racetrack, accidentally kill three major celebrities and enjoy some plain racing. Well, in a McLaren P1, Porsche 918 and Ferrari LeFerrari. And the Grand Tour is just getting started.


There has long been a problem with Clarkson telling the truth a bit abrasively. So when he turns on South Africa, nobody is really surprised. Admittedly, some of his points are valid. South African President Jacob Zuma appears to have some problems with voicing numbers and has used tax money to secure himself some supercars. And there are some comparisons drawn between baboons and policemen. Thankfully, Hammond is able to draw them back onto track with the new Aston Martin.

The Vulcan

We all want a car which is the best a car can be but there are pesky problems in the way known as laws. It can’t be too loud, fast or powerful. Then it can’t be too low, high, wide or have the wrong tires. There’s another bunch of rules for races as well. So it Aston Martin just ignored all the rules and made the Vulcan.

The Aston Martin Vulcan

Sadly, the entry isn’t very graceful as the driver is somewhat portly. Eventually, he is able to engage the 7 Litre V12 engine only to stall off the line. A few tries later allow him to take it out for a drive. A very noisy drive. The engine roars – as it should – but bellows at higher speeds and the brakes squeal unbearably. Stripped down to the bare essentials, the Vulcan costs £1.8 million and reaches 820 horsepower though is usually limited to 500.


Every inch of the car can be adjusted perfectly to suit the driver by the team of mechanics which accompany it. It’s absolute madness so there’s only one man they can trust to get an accurate portrayal of it – Mike Skinner/the American.

Conversation Street

Keeping with the Aston Martin track, the company behind James Bond’s car has partnered with Red Bull to create the 001. At 900 kilograms, the 001 also produces 900 horsepower. Surprisingly, Clarkson hates it due to the aerodynamics. The basis relies on air pressure which can drastically change depending on weather and location.

The 001

The group also introduce the successor to the Bugatti Veyron, the Chiron. It is limited from 288 MPH to 261. At top speed – unclear if limited or no – each tire takes 3800G (people typically die at around 9G) and the petrol will only last 9 minutes or roughly 39 miles.

The Bugatti Chiron

To War!

I’m not even sure how this week’s challenge even came about. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a fat man, old man and short man go through special forces training. No, really. SAS-level stuff.

They have to rappel from a helicopter, storm a building, secure transport, locate a plane and rescue the VIP before relocating to an embassy. This is all done in a mock town in Jordan. Each ‘death’ forces them to begin again. Before they even start, Clarkson burns himself on ejected casings during some test shots. It’s that bad.


There is no real way to accurately summarise the events but I will try my best to list their failures. It begins badly with Hammond dressed in snow camouflage – in the desert. When leaving the helicopter, Clarkson’s trousers slip down and he dies from a grenade. Their next attempt lasts longer after they land the helicopter. Unfortunately, they become cornered in the building and have to clamber out through a window. But poor Winnie the Pooh Clarkson gets stuck and his teammates are forced to kill him.


A sniper is their next problem. May is sent to secure a car whilst avoiding professional gunfire. But his stubbornness forces him to keep running in a straight line and hoping the sniper misses. Eventually, they relocate to a convenient garage and locate an Audi and airport luggage carrier. Hammond squats outside the cabin as James takes the wheel and Clarkson drives the Audi as the first part comes to an end.


A lot of strange driving ideas have presented themselves over the years – mostly by the presenters of The Grand Tour – and James May is being forced to participate in spinning. Spinning is basically identical to doughnuts but you keep going until your tires explode with loud music booming everywhere.


Unfortunately, he doesn’t like it. Whilst participating as a passenger, the rev counter gets into the red. Then his driver gets out of the car whilst it continues to spin with James inside. Needless to say, he is not best pleased. The sheer wasteful nature of the tires is horrible. His last set last him 20,000 miles. Back in the studio, his co-presenters feel that they achieved their goal of making him absolutely miserable as they jump straight into Celebrity Brain Crash with their star of Charlize Theron. They’re not kidding but South Africa is lion and she dies.

Round 2, Fight!

Back to the action now as Team Tour attempt to assail the aeroplane. In an unusual display of good thinking, May drives around the back to avoid being spotted. Thinking over, he then raises Richard up to enter via the rear doors. Alarms set off by raising the compartment alert the terrorists and Hammond dies.


Clarkson decides to provide a distraction in the next attempt and allows his squad to infiltrate the plane at the rear as he does so at the front to locate their VIP – the Queen of England. Before he can even introduce himself, May shoots Hammond for being annoying. Their next try is cut short when Hammond shoots May in revenge. Then Hammond ends up in a knife fight on the wing and dies. Finally having rescued the Queen, Socialist May shoots her in the back and guns down Hammond. His gun is confiscated the next time around and the car chase begins.


Between Hammond hanging out the window for a good shot and May blowing up petrol tanks, it appears that Grand Tour is now an action series. Things go really badly right at the end. Clarkson covers his nearest and dearest as they secure the Queen but takes heavy fire in the last legs. He is hit in ‘the plums’, both lungs, both arms and the spine. A grenade should have killed him but he manages to crawl over the line to victory and on that – almost literal – bombshell, the show ends.


  • How in the world of motoring is special forces training even remotely relate to motoring? I remember when Top Gear was banned from America for not being a proper motorshow. It might be catching.
  • I’m starting to think that nobody is actually going to survive the Celebrity Brain Crash. Between snake attack, lion attack, parachute malfunction and unknown causes… Yeah.
  • Back in Top Gear’s Africa Special, they did mention how rubbish a special forces team they would make. This definitely proves it.
Graham Host
Graham Host is a member of the Fan Contributor program. In his spare time, he enjoys the works of Terry Pratchett, DC Comics and a wide assortment of video games. Under no circumstances should he be fed after midnight.
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