What would you do if you loved driving but lost your eyesight? I’d probably give up and sulk in a corner until I completely gave up. Instead of doing this, Dr Amit Patel went out and gained a place on the leaderboard of Top Gear’s ‘Reasonably Fast Car’ leaderboard. In fact, he didn’t just set a time, but he set the ninth fastest time, ever.
With a history of being a first response medic, the Doctor was keen to not let his lack of sight win. So despite being completely blind, he settled into the track with a manual Yaris to learn the ropes. Mark Watkins, an instructor with plenty of experience getting men and women with partially sighted people on tracks was there to coach him at the Dunsfold Aerodrome. Amit said:
“It’s been six years or so since I’ve been behind the wheel of a car, but it’s funny how things come back to you – the sound of the engine, the gear changes, the clutch and the brake. But then driving, and not knowing where you’re driving, that’s the insane part.
“I focused on the instructions, concentrating on what Mark was saying. I tend to forget that I can’t see, it was crazy just to think that I was actually doing this. Being on the test track, driving the GT86, it was a dream come true.”
He proceeded to set the time of 1:46.58 seconds in the very same GT86 every other celebrity did. There were no dual controls here folks, only Mark to be his eyes but with no control over the car himself.
So, not such a bad time for a man with an obvious disadvantage. And by that, I mean the extra weight of having another person in the passenger seat.