London - The Bloodhound supersonic vehicle that was designed to reach a speed of 1600km/h has been put up for sale with a price tag of about £250 000 (around R4.5 million).

The vehicle was built with a Rolls-Royce Eurofighter jet engine bolted to a rocket.

This appears to be the final nail in the coffin, for the ambitious Bloodhound land speed project that was supposed to take place at Hakskeenpan, where an 18 kilometres long and 1.5 kilometres wide race track was specially cleared in the Kalahari desert.

The event would have taken place towards the end of 2019, where an attempt would have been made to break the land speed world record in the Northern Cape.

The Bloodhound Programme, the company behind the initiative, was placed under administration in October, under Andrew Sheridan and Geoff Rowley as joint administrators.

The supersonic vehicle as well as the project’s assets will now be sold in order to pay off debts and the borrowed RAF Eurofighter engine and third-party equipment to Rolls-Royce and the UK Ministry of Defence will have to be returned.

Chief engineer Mark Chapman and joint administrator Andrew Sheridan in October estimated that £25 million was needed to get the car ready to race on the desert track.

A statement was issued on December 7 by Sheridan and Rowley indicating that they were unable to secure the necessary funding to go ahead with the project.

Sheridan stated that despite overwhelming public support, and engagement with a wide range of potential and credible investors, it had not been possible to secure a purchaser for the business and assets.

Previous test runs at Newquay Airport in 2017 saw the Bloodhound reach speeds of 320km/h.

Wing Commander Andy Green, who was first person to break the sound barrier on land back in 1997, stated that should the £25 million be raised, there was still a possibility of giving the Bloodhound a “run for its money”.

The Bloodhound would have tested at 800 to 965km/h before tests approaching its top speed in runs during 2020 or 2021.

The spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Zandisile Luphahla, believes that none of the efforts to support the Bloodhound project had gone to waste.

“The focus was to develop Hakskeenpan as an open air mega event venue. We will continue to partner with Dawid Kruiper Municipality to provide infrastructure to accommodate events of up to 5 000 people. This includes water supply to the pan, expanding the capacity at the Rietfontein sewerage pond and providing event-specific equipment to drive down costs of doing business at the pan. We will further work on supporting small, medium and micro enterprises to render services to events and do a skills development programme to prepare the community to benefit from activities presented on the pan.”

Luphahla added that “no Northern Cape provincial government equipment or assets were ever shared with or lent to the Bloodhound project”.

“Provincial government appreciates that the Bloodhound UK selected the Province and Mier as its venue. This greatly assisted to create international awareness of the Kalahari Red Dune Route, the Kalahari, Mier and the Northern Cape as extreme sport and adventure destinations. We always had a great working relationship with the Bloodhound team.

“We did not invest in Bloodhound per se but in the pan as a mega event venue.”

Luphahla stated that the environmental impact assessment cost the department just over R1 million.

“We spent the same amount on developing homestays in Mier. We will spend R1.8 million on water supply to the pan and a similar amount to improve the sewerage pond in Rietfontein. This will also benefit the Mier community as the pond is running at its maximum capacity thus constraining other development in the area.”

He added that Hakskeenpan was only part of the department’s plan to develop the Mier area.

“Although the Bloodhound Programme ran into financial trouble it resulted in more good than bad for the Province, in light of future opportunities for similar events including the Guinness Book of Records motorcycle event, Kalahari Speedweek, product presentations, fly-ins, concerts and the like. This is definitely not the end of the road - Hakskeenpan is open for business.”

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