Here's the scenario. You entered some daft online competition and won the golden ticket. You've been background checked and deemed to be 'not a complete psycho' so you and two other winners are going on a road trip as navigators for Jeremy, Richard and James. It's a three day jaunt across grueling, unforgiving, hostile territory in an ancient banger, that was on its last legs before the journey even began. You came first! So you get first choice of who to ride with. The question is - who would you choose?
My first thoughts on this would be James May. Why? Well as 'Captain Slow' you'd perhaps be the least likely to come a cropper. I suspect he'd choose the most sensible vehicle for the task in hand too. The downsides? Well, firstly I often feel May comes off worst in the regular 'prank wars' that go on during challenges. Secondly I'm not sure how much explanation of torque vs brake horsepower or discussion of the advantages of imperial vs metric I could take. If my name was Fred Dibner, and I wanted to spend three days talking about engineering concepts, May would definitely be the best choice.
Clarkson, you might think would be a sensible choice. I believe over the last 10 years Clarkson has 'won' more challenges than either May or Hammond. However, winning isn't everything. I've read one of Clarkson's books and I appreciate his sense of humor - however he appears to have a short temper and be very irritable under pressure. He also appears to often choose the daftest vehicle for the job and then apply the silliest mods to it. I seem to recall him replacing a lost door with a pallet on one occasion for example. Something, leads me to believe Clarkson's vehicle often ends up the least comfortable.
So that leaves Richard Hammond. Watching Top Gear over the last ten years, I've drawn the conclusion that Richard is probably (At least to my untrained eye.) the best driver. He also appears to remain light-hearted and jovial even in the most trying circumstances.... (Such as having had one of the targa panels off your classic Japanese supercar stolen and thrown off a cliff during a snow storm.) It also occurs to me that Richard seems to have suffered the most reliability problems over the years and perhaps second to only to May, ends up getting the worst of the 'pranks'.
In conclusion, I think I know who I'd ride with. I'd ride with Andy Wilman, and the cameraman, in the back of a brand new, Range Rover. I'd sit quietly in the heated leather seats and watch the program making process from the safety of a modern, luxury SUV. You'd get to see all the cut-out bits and and the stuff that doesn't even make it into the unedited special edition, you'd get to meet everyone and be involved, but you'd probably never actually be in any serious discomfort or danger... Unless of course you were doing an Argentina special in a Union Jack painted car with 'Falklands Forever!' painted down the side...