It was a perfect morning on Sydney Harbour, beautifully complemented by a race car that was one race away from a perfect season in 1988 – The McLaren MP4/4.


This particular machine, beautifully placed alongside Sydney’s famous harbor was driven by Ayrton Senna during the 1988 season and was transported from England especially for a celebration of his life at the Sydney Top Gear Festival.


At first, it sat peacefully in the sun with the occasional tourist walking by, stopping and taking a photo for instagram. However, this was quickly replaced by a rush of media and PR preparing for the imminent arrival of Jeremy Clarkson and James May, accompanied by Bruno Senna, ex-Formula 1 Driver and nephew of Ayrton Senna.

Upon arrival, it seemed almost surreal to be only meters from the personalities that have been on my TV screen for the last decade. However, it seemed familiar as jokes and banter was made in typical Top Gear fashion. Clearly all the media and PR were familiar as everyone broke into laughs throughout the launch as I wrestled for the a few shots in the media scrum. Meanwhile our other Downshift Photographer James cleverly took to the flanks for a more open view of the moment.



Fast Forward three hours, James and I are standing  on the South Circuit at Sydney Motorsport Park among other invited media for hot laps to preview  a new show experience – Motoring in Motion.

During the Festival, Motoring in Motion would give visitors the opportunity to experience cars first hand through hot laps and a limited number of test drives.



We were lucky enough to be treated to hot laps as a preview of the experience some visitors would have over the weekend.  Riding shotgun in a range of cars from the Volvo Polestar S60, Beau Yates’ Toyota 86 drift car, Neal Bates’ insane Toyota Celica RA40 Rally Car and Porsche 911s, it was easy to see the effect a real hands on experience could have on the perception of a car. A hard day at work indeed!

We were also treated to some eye candy as Sydney Motorsport Park entered the final hours of preparation for the weekends events.

Shortly after the joy rides were complete, we were treated again to a special moment with the unveiling of the brand new McLaren 650S – fresh off a plane from the Geneva Motorshow. With a cloth slowly pulled back and its front fascia becoming visible, it was immediately evident that McLaren have taken leaf out of their flagship and have produced a mini P1.



Concluding the day, Bruno Senna spoke to the media on the topic of the historic McLaren MP4/4 and his late uncle Ayrton in the special Senna Tribute area. With the MP4/4 sitting in the middle of the area and Bruno bringing us a fresh and personal perspective on Ayrton, you couldn’t help but feel that today had been a pretty awesome day…


…and the Festival hadn’t even started yet!

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