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The Stig may have done his last lap

The brakes have been slammed on racing driver Ben Collins's career as Top Gear's The Stig because of his High Court battle with the BBC.

Mr Collins is thought to be highly unlikely to return as the show's "faceless" mystery driver after the mystery was very publicly solved.

The character may now not reappear at all in the next Top Gear series, even if played by a different driver. A decision on whether The Stig will be axed is expected in the next two months.

The BBC unsuccessfully took legal action to block publication by HarperCollins of an autobiography which would unmask Mr Collins's identity.

Simon Dowson-Collins, HarperCollins's director of legal services, said The Stig appeared in court on Wednesday but added that it will confirm his identity only when the book is launched on September 16.

He said: "We were very surprised the BBC took such action to prevent freedom of expression. We maintained all along that the information is already in the public domain."

Top Gear presenter James May said that another Stig can be found for future editions of the show.

But he said it is "a shame" that the driver's anonymity had been spoiled, adding: "I mean, the whole point of being The Stig is that you are nobody. The Stig is a character."

Speaking to Absolute Radio host Christian O'Connell, May said: "It's like, you know, it has to have a person in the suit, obviously, and it's always the same person, always has been, because that way we get consistency. And Stig is anonymous because it's good fun.

"It's a testing device, The Stig, and it protects it from corruption, if nobody knows who it is, that's the really good thing about it."

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