motoring show Top Gear
popularly returned to our screens on Sunday, and with an enigmatic new Stig to-boot – but following the dismissal of Ben Collins last year, just who is the mysterious new white-suited and helmeted so-called 'tame racing driver'?
In the first episode of series 16, the Stig set a new lap record around the Top Gear
test track of 1m15.1s in an Ariel Atom V8 – strongly suggesting that whoever they are, they are an experienced racer.
Following the programme, there was fevered speculation on social networking sites that the man-behind-the-mask as it were was former F1-turned-sportscar star Anthony Davidson – a notion that the Englishman unsurprisingly was swift to deny, writing on Twitter
: 'Woah, just seen all the 'antdavidson is the new Stig' comments!... Guys, seriously, it's not me!' But then he would say that, wouldn't he?
Another school of thought is that the new Stig is actually, for the first time, female, with German racing driver Sabine Schmitz – the first woman to win a major 24-hour race in 1996 and now a television personality and best-known for driving the BMW 'Ring taxi' around the legendary, 20.8km Nürburgring Nordschleife – a hotly-tipped name. The 41-year-old has appeared on Top Gear
a number of times previously.
To further cloud the issue, host Jeremy Clarkson quipped that the new Stig 'comes up to my legs and makes Richard Hammond look like a giant...all the good racing drivers these days are very small'. Davidson is just 5'3” tall.
The previous Stig, Collins, prompted a legal battle with the BBC
when he controversially 'outed' himself in his warts-n-all autobiography 'The Man in the White Suit' last September. The 35-year-old has since been repeatedly ridiculed and disparaged by hosts Clarkson, Hammond and James May.
So who do you think the new Stig is? Have your say by clicking on the comments link below.