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The Stig visits Norfolk racetrack

PUBLISHED: 17:47 02 October 2010

Ben Collins, formerly Stig from TV's Top Gear, at Snetterton Race Circuit testing for British Touring Cars Brands Hatch race with Motorbase Performance team.

Ben Collins, formerly Stig from TV's Top Gear, at Snetterton Race Circuit testing for British Touring Cars Brands Hatch race with Motorbase Performance team.

©Archant Photographic 2010

He is best known for... well, for years nobody knew his identity as the infamous Stig on BBC2's Top Gear.

But yesterday Ben Collins, whose alias was revealed in the national press last month, was happy to show his face at Snetterton Race Circuit in preparation for his touring car debut next weekend.

He will join Airwaves BMW in the final rounds of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) at the Brands Hatch circuit on October 8 and 9.

Speaking after almost an hour on the track at Snetterton, where he chose to test his touring car, a Motorbase Performance-run BMW 320si, he said: “The British Touring Car Championship is the best series in the UK so that’s incentive in itself. The racing is also particularly wild so it’s very interesting. We could have gone anywhere to practice, but Snetterton is a good test track.

“Today is about getting a full feel of what the car is telling you. They grip in a certain way and that gives you a sense that’s quite unique to that car. It’s also about getting the time down as much as possible.”

Mr Collins, who has appeared as the helmet-wearing “mystery” driver on Top Gear from 2003, was ditched from the show after it emerged he was preparing to publish a book on his racing experiences and unmask himself as the Stig.

Last month the BBC failed to get an injunction to halt the publication of Collins’s autobiography.

It also emerged this week that Mr Collins will now join channel 5’s rival motoring show Fifth Gear. Speaking to the Evening News Mr Collins was reluctant to engage in any details, but press reports have revealed he will begin on Friday night and will appear in at least five episodes.

Mr Collins said he had driven more than 200 cars for the BBC2 programme and added: “Any TV programmes I do will be as a result of Top Gear which was great fun, but my core passion has always been racing.” Airwaves BMW team boss David Bartrum said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be working with Ben again, or is it James Bond, I’m never really sure.

“After he had a run in one of our BMWs at Brands Hatch last year, we tried to put something together for a full season, but it didn’t quite come off so we’re glad it has for the final round.

“Ben is a great driver and this is an excellent chance to see him mix it with the rest of the BTCC grid in an Airwaves BMW.”

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