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IT manager sorts Italian Job cliffhanger

Wins 3 nights in Turin with his 3.2 tons of gold

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A Surrey IT manager has won three nights in Turin for sorting The Italian Job's cliffhanger ending, having successfully forged a cunning, highly practical plan to save the gold.

Michael Caine's Charlie Croker and his gang are left in a bit of a tight spot at the film's finale, as their bus teeters over a ravine and they have have to decide whether to save their own lives or try to retrieve the 3.2 tons of ingots whose weight threatens to take the vehicle over the edge.

The Royal Society of Chemistry last year invited the public to suggest what Croker's famous "great idea" for securing the booty might be, and received over 2,000 entries.

Of the shortlist of five, the honours went to 39-year-old John Godwin of Godalming.

The Telegraph explains that the plan starts with the robbers smashing outwards two large central windows just "air-side" of the bus's pivot. One of the gang can then lean out and smash two smaller windows above the front axles - in this case inwards, to retain their weight on the land-side of the pivot.

This allows someone to be lowered by his feet to let the air out of the front tyres, described by Godwin as "springs" which were exaggerating the bus's rocking motion.

The "key to surviving this predicament", Godwin noted, is to then drain the estimated 36 gallons of fuel left in the tank, which weighs about 300lb (139kg). Godwin went as far as to "track down one of the last existing VAL14s buses to a depot near Cambridge to check his details, confirming that the fuel tank was located towards the overhanging rear".

He suggested Croker "could have emptied the tank by removing an access plank on the bus floor and reaching down to take out the drainage plug". Once this weight had been removed, one of the gang could safely exit the bus to get rocks to further weigh down the front, and the gold would be within reach.

RSC chief exec Dr Richard Pike said: "We are delighted to have found such a deserving winner. Mr Godwin's entry is just the kind of practical thinking Croker would have used - but he ably demonstrates the science behind the idea as well."

The runner-up in the challenge was Aidan Farrell, who suggested setting fire to fuel from the tank to glue the bus to the road. ®

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