Earthmovers(10/10)

Coming to an end this week is the series that brings to life the classic card game of the 1970s and 80s. Hosted by Robert Llewellyn and Ashley Hames, the show uses the Top Trumps format to examine all manner of extreme machines. This week, the duo turn their attention to earthmovers –mechanical monsters designed to excavate and transport huge quantities of dirt. While Robert checks out the Cat D-11 in Spain, Ashley heads to Arizona to hitch a ride in the Liebherr T282.

Top Trumps sees Robert and Ashley go head to head in a bid to outsmart each other across a range of subjects. With each show based on a different theme, the presenters go on personal fact-finding missions – immersing themselves in their given topic and collecting all the information they can. They then battle it out to see which statistics are more impressive.

In this week’s season finale, Robert heads to the Caterpillar test facility in Málaga, southern Spain, where he hopes to have a go on “the biggest production tractor in the world”. Designed for mining and heavy construction projects, the Cat D- 11 is a 104-ton bulldozer capable of shifting its own weight in earth. “Ashley mate, just give up now!” says Robert.

Throwing himself into his task with gusto, Robert sets about collecting his first vital statistic – top speed. Taking the D-11 onto flat land, driver Gary cranks up the engine. However, since there is space in the truck for just one person, Robert must run alongside it holding his satnav to obtain a reading – no easy task in the 35-degree heat of Spain. “I hope we can do this quickly!” he says. Luckily for Robert, the machine is only capable of 10.2mph.

More impressive than the D-11’s speed, however, is its agility. Thanks to electronic engine and transmission control, along with tracked wheels, this metal leviathan can turn on a sixpence – with a turning circle of zero. “This machine may weigh 104 tons, but it can move around like a ballerina!” says Robert. As well as being able to turn quickly, the D-11 can cope with a 60 per cent climb angle.

At the back of the bulldozer is a vicious-looking spike designed to rip through earth with a pressure of 44 tons. With its sheer weight alongside brute force and incredible traction, the D-11 makes short work of tough rocks like quartz and granite. But Robert can only get a real grasp of the machine’s power when he gets behind the controls. “I’m going to be in charge of over 100 tons of very powerful machinery on my own,” he says. “Wish me luck!”

For his all-important data, Ashley is in the Ascaro copper mine in Arizona. Here, he encounters the enormous Liebherr T282 dumper. “Now we’re talking!” he says. “This is a monster truck!”

The biggest dumper truck in the world, the T282 is 8.7 metres wide, weighs 206 tons when empty, can carry nearly 400 tons of rock, costs $2.8million and can hit speeds of over 40mph. “I can’t see this being beaten,” is Ashley’s confident assertion. But can such a beast be manoeuvrable? Ashley climbs high into the cab to find out. “It’s kind of like we’re riding in a house,” he says.

As he and his driver head to the mine’s loading area, Ashley has one last chance to gather the statistics he hopes will win him the Top Trumps challenge – including a 320 cubic yard capacity and a massive one million mile lifespan. Impressive though these figures are, however, will they be enough to topple Robert and his bumper bulldozer?

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