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Changing Gear

Chris Evans has resigned after only one series as the host of Top Gear, but there are plenty of other options available in the world of Motorsport.

One of the biggest jobs in British television is once again vacant, after Chris Evans resigned as the main host of Top Gear. Evans’ career in the motoring world didn’t last long. Leaving after just six episodes, he might already feel that he was in an impossible position. Whereas co-host Matt Le Blanc – who Evans was regularly reported to be in something of a power struggle with – seemed to be comfortable, relaxed in a role where nothing major was expected, Evans felt the pressure of creating his Top Gear. While Le Blanc came in easy in the knowledge that most people were fans of him already – or at least of his Joey persona, which he did little to risk spoiling – Evans had to negotiate the balancing act between being the personality some people knew him to be, presenting himself to a new audience, and above all, replacing, without replicating, Jeremy Clarkson.

It was a tough gig, and one he never really got right. At times it felt like he was simply reading a script written for his predecessor; other times, even things Jeremy Clarkson could get away with, such as bragging about the cars he owns, Evans made irritating. If Clarkson talks about owning a supercar, it makes sense – if we saw him commuting in a Honda Jazz, it would be like watching Jamie Oliver call into McDonalds for dinner on the walk home from work. Yet with Evans, the discussion of the cars he owned left an unfortunate sense of just how wealthy he is. When he tests a supercar he should be doing it with the audience, the viewers getting to live vicariously through him. So when he revealed in one episode that he had just bought the car he was reviewing for hundreds of thousands of pounds, what did he expect? People were unlikely to sit back and say good for you.

Now that Evans is gone, the next host will benefit from his tenure. Just as Jose Mourniho will feel less pressure following Louis Van Gaal and David Moyes, the new Top Gear host will find it easier to better Evans than Clarkson. But whatever Top Gear do next, there will always be a market for it, because, quite simply, people love cars. The attraction and the market has even been noticeable in the areas around South West College, where recently a group featuring student, Adam Bustard, chairman of the Omagh Motor Club, Garry Milligan, and Jonathan MacDonald of Go Motorsport, attended the Omagh campus to promote the Ulster Rally, which takes place in Derry on the 19th and 20th of august.

At the event, students were introduced to the ways they can get involved in motorsport, and Jonathon MacDonald was quick to discuss the safety elements involved. Jonathon said: ‘We’re here to promote the Ulster Rally, but also motorsport in general, particularly road safety. People see cars drive fast on closed roads in rallies, but it’s important to let them know that these aren’t standard road cars. These cars have role cages and seats and belts totally different to a standard road car. It’s important to drive home these road safety messages, as well as advertising that there are events happening all over the place.’

Adam Bustard spoke of his time at the South West College. Adam said, ‘I started my A Levels at the Omagh Academy, but I did a link course in engineering at the South West College. It really helped me progress, I was taught a lot about pneumatics and electronics, and that end of things, which gives me a bit of an engineering background and an understanding of how electronics and circuit systems work. It’s helped with preparation on the rally, and I hope to go on to university to study mechanical engineering.’

Events like these show that Top Gear will always have an audience, and the South West College Motor Vehicle Technology department are showing that even if Chris Evans’ resignation means there’s a surprising new job available in the motoring world, it’s not the only.

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