Top Gear's Stig is unmasked

His identity has always been a closely guarded secret but now British media claim to have unmasked anonymous professional test car driver "The Stig" from the popular BBC motoring show "Top Gear."

Each episode of the cult show sees The Stig whizzing around tracks in powerful cars wearing a white jumpsuit with his features hidden by a white crash helmet.



The original Stig was axed from the show after British racing car driver Perry McCarthy revealed his identity in an autobiography in 2002.



Fans had speculated that his replacement could be a well-known figure such as former Formula One world champion Damon Hill.



But according to media reports, Stig is in fact Ben Collins, who began his racing career in 1994 and drove at Formula 3 level. He also featured as a stuntman in the latest James Bond film "Quantum of Solace."



His secret was apparently unveiled after he went to a photographic studio to commission a series of prints of The Stig in action.



"We never comment on speculation as to whom or what The Stig is," a BBC spokeswoman said.



However one show insider allegedly told the Times newspaper the revelation was "bloody annoying"



"You wouldn't write a piece saying that Santa didn't exist," the insider went on to say.



It is not the first time Collins' name has been linked with the mystery driver.

A Health and Safety report into a serious 2006 crash involving presenter Richard Hammond said Collins "worked closely with Top Gear as a high performance driver and consultant."

Despite test-driving some of the fastest and most expensive vehicles in the world for the TV show, media reports said he owned and drove a car worth a modest 15,000 pounds.

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