Earlier this year, while filming in Norway, The Grand Tour’s James May crashed a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VIII and was subsequently sent to the hospital. He sustained a broken rib and returned to filming the following day. The special the trio were filming, A Scandi Flick, premiered on Amazon Prime last Friday, so you can see the crash for yourself. As Jeremy Clarkson said in the aftermath, it’s a big one.
Clarkson, May, and Richard Hammond road-tripped through Norway, Sweden, and Finland in a trio of all-wheel drive sedans, with Clarkson in an Audi RS4 and Hammond in a Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Hammond and May make fun of Clarkson for not actually bringing a true rally-bred car, so he wants to prove his car is fastest. They come upon—or it’s made to seem like they came upon—a narrow tunnel road in Norway where they decide to see who’s fastest. The tunnel lights up green as they pass through, with red lights towards the end where there’s a wall.
May brakes way too late, and tries to turn the Evo to avoid hitting the wall, but he’s carrying far too much speed. (Video of his speedometer shows he hit 78 mph before hitting the brakes.) Almost the entire right side of the car hits the wall, and in the onboard camera, you see May getting thrown around in his seat, with various items flying around the cabin.
Fortunately, May gets out of the car on his own, and a medical team checks him out before bringing him to the hospital. After being released, May is shown in a workshop fixing the Evo, and though it suffered very extensive damage, the car is made roadworthy for the rest of the trip.
In hindsight, the whole thing seems astonishingly unsafe. Yes, there was a medical team present in case of an accident, but this was a high-speed run done with absolutely no margin for error. The cars were also equipped with studded tires, which really don’t work well on dry pavement, but more critically there was no safety equipment in use. Had the car been fit with a cage, a racing seat, and five-point harnesses, and had May been wearing a helmet, and a HANS device, his risk of injury would’ve decreased significantly. The fact that there was unsecured cargo added danger to the situation; that anything could strike him at speed. That’s the sort of thing that’ll get you in trouble at a track day, and makes the video a good “what not to do” primer for anyone looking to do high-speed driving.
You just don’t expect to see this sort of “safety third” attitude for a production of this scale and budget.