Portsmouth priest is a racetrack star

 A few weeks ago Jeremy Clarkson, one of the presenters of BBC2's Top Gear motoring programme, challenged 'men of God' to a race to determine which was the fastest faith! One Catholic priest from Portsmouth took up the challenge. Fr Simon Thomson, parish priest of English Martyrs, Didcot and a keen driver, found himself up against an Anglican bishop, an Anglican vicar, a Buddhist, a rabbi and a follower of Hari Krishna at the Top Gear race track and studio at Dunsfold in Surrey. The test involved a time trial, driving around a figure of eight circuit in a 340 brake horsepower Subaru Impreza Group N Rally car. "It was incredibly exhilarating," said Fr Simon. Though the Anglican vicar, the Rev Antony White, who is a member of a racing team and not surprisingly set the pace with an unbeatable one minute 38 seconds lap - Fr Simon who came in just two seconds behind with the respectable time of one minute 40 seconds. "I was very pleased with my performance," said Fr Simon, "though I knew it would be hard to catch Antony. But it was great to take part and to shatter some classical stereotypes about clergy. The production team were shocked that we were so competitive and yet full of fun and cheering one another on. To the question 'Is this really an appropriate thing for a man of your profession to be doing?' I answered "Why ever not! Christianity is about living life to the full. And anyone who enjoys cars and driving would be mad not to take up the offer of a drive in a car like the Subaru." So if you are driving up the A34 near Didcot keep a wary eye in your rear view mirror for Fr Simon as he steers his way sedately round South Oxfordshire! The programme is scheduled to go out this Sunday 1 December at 8pm on BBC2.

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