The crash which nearly killed Top Gear’s Richard Hammond was likely caused by a nail in the tyre which safety experts failed to spot, says an official BBC report.

There was a ‘distinct possibility’ that a check of the tyres between earlier practice runs could’ve identified the danger.

The report concluded an ‘inability to spot the damage to the tyre’ was the underlying cause of the accident.

The presenter suffered serious head injuries in the crash at Elvington airfield, near York, last September.

He was on his fourth run and driving at speeds of nearly 300mph when the front offside tyre suffered a ‘catastrophic disintegration’.

A penetrating object such as a nail, probably picked up during the course of the day’s events, punctured the side wall of the tyre.

The BBC’s 88-page report said Primetime Landspeed Engineering (PLE), the company which supplied the jet-powered Vampire drag racer, had sole responsibility for the car’s safety.

But it criticised the Top Gear team for having no ‘assurance system’ to ensure PLE’s safety checks had been carried out properly.

The report said: “The indirect cause was the inability to spot the damage to the tyre, possibly due to either the lack of an adequate checking procedure or inadequate implementation of the procedure by PLE as the ‘experts’ with sole responsibility for the safety of the car; and to a much lesser extent Top Gear not having an assurance system to ensure that the safety checks were being performed on the day.”

There was inconclusive evidence on whether the safety checks were conducted ‘to an appropriate standard’.