Kimberley - The company behind the Bloodhound project to run a car at over 1600km/h at the Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape has gone into administration.
In a press statement released on Monday, Bloodhound Programme, the company behind the initiative to break the land speed world record in the Northern Cape, stated that it had entered into administration with the appointment of Andrew Sheridan and Geoff Rowley as joint administrators.
Project Bloodhound was founded in 2007 and aims to hit speeds of 1600km/h (1000mph) at a specially cleared, 18km long, 1.5km wide section of the Hakskeen Salt Pan in the Northern Cape.
“In addition to seeking to break the land speed world record, the project is a major R&D (Research and Development) catalyst and the focal point for a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) education campaign which has reached over two million children since its launch,” a company press statement said.
It pointed out that to date the project had operated on a partnership and sponsorship model, with support from a variety of partners including Rolls Royce and Rolex as well as the Ministry of Defence, which lent prototype jet engines for the car, and the Northern Cape provincial government, which has supported the creation of the track.
“Individual donations from members of the public have also supported the development of the car and the global education programme.”
The project has already successfully built a viable racing car which has been tested to 320km/h, whilst developing or testing propulsion, aerodynamic and telecommunications technologies with the potential for far-reaching applications outside of the project.
“The team is now seeking around £25 million (R472m) in investment to provide guaranteed funding and see the project to completion,” it stated.
“Entering into administration provides some breathing space to identify an investor who will bring the guaranteed funding, impetus and expertise required to drive the project forward,” Andrew Sheridan, joint administrator, stated.
“Whilst not an insignificant amount, the £25m Bloodhound requires to break the land speed record is a fraction of the cost of, for example, finishing last in a F1 season or running an America’s Cup team. This is an opportunity for the right investor to leave a lasting legacy. We are already in discussion with a number of potential investors and would encourage any other interested party to contact us without delay,” he said.
Project Bloodhound chief engineer Mark Chapman said that as the project moved out of the research and development phase, and into the operational phase, it needed a different approach to funding.
“This project is built around the most successful team in the history of land speed racing, and with the right support we have no doubt that the project will achieve its aims and could be racing for the record in as little as 10 months.”
Tweeting on Monday, Chapman added: “Not an easy day for us here ... thank you all for your tremendous support, and hopefully moving forward to a record breaking future”. “Fingers crossed we come out of this with the funding to take us to #hakskeenpan”.
The Bloodhound Programme hoped to set a new land speed record at Hakskeen Pan by developing a jet-powered car.
Before Monday’s announcement, the latest plan was to fly the car to Hakskeen Pan in May 2019, ready to take advantage of the desert surface freshly conditioned by seasonal flooding, with a record attempt to be made in October or November 2019.
The clay-covered Hakskeen Pan track, located about 250km north of Upington, has been under preparation over the past decade, and in that time over 16 000 tons of rock and stone have been removed by hand to smooth the surface.
The record attempts were expected to attract over 18 000 people to the area, which will be broadcast live and covered by over 200 international journalists,”
“We’ve already seen immense interest in the project, and benefits to the community are only expected to increase as the record runs get closer,” Richard Knight, director of communications for Bloodhound, said at the time.
Led by Richard Noble, the Bloodhound project was founded 11 years ago with the aim of beating the 760mph (1222km/h) record set by the Thrust SSC in 1997.
The Northern Cape provincial government came on board, supporting the creation of an 11-mile long track at Hakskeen Pan.