Tuesday 21 November 2017

Jeremy Clarkson met Saudi Prince to plan high speed race track in the Cotswolds

Jeremy Clarkson arrives at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, ahead of the opening Clarkson, Hammond & May Live show. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Jeremy Clarkson arrives at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, ahead of the opening Clarkson, Hammond & May Live show. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
(Left - right) James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson arrive at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, ahead of the opening Clarkson, Hammond & May Live show. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Richard Hammond during the opening night of Clarkson, Hammond and May Live at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
James May during the opening night of Clarkson, Hammond and May Live at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Richard Hammond (left) and James May during the opening night of Clarkson, Hammond and May Live at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Jeremy Clarkson is helped with his seat belt during the opening night of Clarkson, Hammond and May Live at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Rozina Sabur

A Saudi prince with a penchant for fast cars held talks with Jeremy Clarkson to turn a quiet corner of the Cotswolds into a high-performance race track, it has been revealed.

The former Top Gear presenter met with the wealthy Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan al-Saud at his 2,500-acre Oxfordshire estate.

The prince, 37, is thought to have had grand visions of a private motorsport area near his home – much to the horror of his neighbours.

One possible site was a former RAF airfield near the village of Enstone. Clarkson himself submitted plans to convert it into driving track and TV studio in 2004.

Under that proposal, it would have become Top Gear's test track. However the plan was dropped after protests by residents.

Read more: Sacked Top Gear star Jeremy Clarkson drops hint of a return to television

Pyrotechnics during the opening night of Clarkson, Hammond and May Live at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Pyrotechnics during the opening night of Clarkson, Hammond and May Live at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
(Left - right) Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May during the opening night of Clarkson, Hammond and May Live at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
(Left - right) James May, Richard Hammond and Jeremy Clarkson arrive at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, ahead of the opening Clarkson, Hammond & May Live show. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 21, 2015. See PA story SHOWBIZ Clarkson. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Stunt driver Paul Swift (2nd right) is introduced by Jeremy Clarkson (right) as James May (left) and Richard Hammond look on during the opening night of Clarkson, Hammond and May Live at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Jeremy Clarkson during the opening night of Clarkson, Hammond and May Live at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast. Liam McBurney/PA Wire

A source close to the Saudi royal family told the Mail on Sunday: “The Prince is a bit of a petrolhead. He loves driving along the country lanes and is careful to observe the speed limit. But he thought it would be fun to have a track close by where he and other motorsport enthusiasts could give their cars a real thrashing.

“He loves Top Gear and thinks Clarkson is great, so he was the obvious person to talk to. They got on very well.”

The meeting in Glympton Park, the home Prince Khalid shares with his wife – the Duke of Northumberland's niece, Lucy Cuthbert – is understood to have taken place in November 2006.

Read more: Top Gear bosses 'considered dropping Hammond'

A spokesman for the prince confirmed that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss “the possibility of finding a suitable site for a circuit where motorsports enthusiasts would be able to drive their cars in a safe environment but without having to worry about speed limits”.

He added: “In the event, no suitable site was identified and the idea came to nothing.

“To the best of our knowledge, no payments were made to Mr Clarkson by, or on behalf of, Prince Khalid or the Glympton Estate.”

Mr Clarkson, who was sacked by the BBC in March after punching a producer, said of his meeting with the prince: “It was a cup of tea. I was having a look round Glympton.”

Telegraph.co.uk

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