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Offline Rat Boy

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SOME say he is the anonymous driver called "the Stig" on popular motoring show Top Gear. All we know is he's competing in this year's V8 Supercar endurance races.

Jack Daniel's Racing announced English endurance racing specialist Ben Collins will pair up with veteran Nathan Pretty in the team's No. 15 Holden for the annual endurance races at Bathurst and Phillip Island.

Collins, a professional stunt driver, has long been rumoured to be the Stig, with English newspaper The Telegraph claiming he had mistakenly outed himself in January.

The show fiercely guards the identity of the Stig and it's believed Collins could be sacked if he did admit he was the popular character.

The first Stig, stunt driver Perry McCarthy, lost the job after outing himself in his book Flat Out, Flat Broke, published in 2002.

Known as "Black Stig", McCarthy role on the show ended with his driving off the end of an aircraft carrier.

He was replaced with the current Stig - "White Stig" - who was recently "outed" by show host Jeremy Clarkson as former Formula One champion Michael Schumacher.

However, the blaze of publicity surrounding the outing, as well as Clarkson's penchant for theatrics, failed to convince many - if any - viewers that Schumacher was the mystery man in white.

Regardless of his secret identity, Collins - who worked as stunt driver on the latest James Bond movie Quantum of Solace - comes to Australia with extensive racing experience.

Among the 34-year-old's achievements are testing sessions with Formula One team Ascari and the American Red Bull NASCAR team.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to race in V8 Supercars with Jack Daniel's Racing," Collins said.

"Phillip Island and Bathurst are two circuits that every driver would love to get the chance to race on, especially Bathurst, which is such a famous race.

"I drove a Holden V8 Supercar earlier this year and these cars are sensational. They're very demanding and the level of talent and professionalism in this category is very high."

This year's endurance races begin with the Phillip Island 500 from September 11-13 before the Bathurst 1000 is held from October 8-11.

If you're not wasted, the day is.

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