The company behind the Top Gear Experience track days has gone bust, and has chosen to blame the shitty relaunch of Top Gear following the departure of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond.
Today, TGXP Ltd cancelled all bookings for track day experiences at the Dunsfold Park test track, where the series is filmed, saying: “Despite good reviews and early strong sales for the Top Gear Track Experience, there has been a sharp decline in ticket sales and interest since the changes in the television show. We deeply regret the position this puts our remaining customers in, have posted refund advice on our website and will be contacting all our customers directly in the coming days.”
A spokesman for BBC Worldwide, which runs the commercial operations of the corporation, said: “We share the frustration of fans who’ve had their track day cancelled by TGXP. The operator has assured us that most ticketholders will be eligible for a refund from third party websites or their credit or debit card company.”
The most recent series of Top Gear, hosted by Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc, failed to match the success of its Clarkson, Hammond and May driven predecessor. By the sixth and final episode of the series, it garnered fewer than 2 million viewers – which was lower than at any point during the Clarkson era. Evans subsequently quit the show, saying he had given it his best shot, and future series will be fronted by LeBlanc who is signed up for two more series.
A BBC insider told the Press Association that blaming the show for the Top Gear Experience’s failure wasn’t “plausible”. The source said: “The last series of Top Gear averaged 5 million viewers. It’s still a massive show so for TGXP to blame everything on viewing figures simply isn’t plausible.
“It’s disappointing that fans who’ve booked were told by the operator at the very last minute that their days were being cancelled, especially as it’s half-term. Hopefully TGXP will do the right thing by them.”
Companies House records suggest that TGXP has previously had difficulty making money from the track days. It lost almost £470,000 in 2015 and almost £200,000 in 2014.
The Top Gear Experience website currently shows an insolvency notice urging those with track days scheduled to contact the firms they made their bookings with.
The statement said: “It is anticipated that the company will enter a formal insolvency process and advice is being taken. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience caused and would like to thank everyone who participated in the Top Gear Track Experience over the last two years – for their custom, enthusiasm, for great feedback and support.”
Before the insolvency notice was posted, the site featured extensive Top Gear and BBC branding and an introductory text promising: “Almost definitely the best track experience … in the world. Be the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. Earn your own place on our celebrity leaderboard.
“Hang around the actual hangar where Top Gear is filmed, complete with the presenters’ chairs, car displays and old crisp packets. Sit in the presenters’ chairs, re-arrange the Cool Wall, and check out some amazing cars that have featured in the show. It’s not like all these other track days out there it’s just like experiencing Top Gear on the telly. Except it’s not on the telly.”