London - The British team that brought the Bloodhound LSR supersonic car project back to life is currently undergoing final preparations for the first test runs at the Hakskeen Salt Pan in the Northern Cape.

Set to take place between mid-October and mid-November, the supersonic car will be subjected to 13 test runs, where the team will aim to increase the top speeds in steady (80km/h) increments to eventually top over 800km/h. This will make it among the 10 fastest cars of all time.

This test will be a “key milestone” on its journey to setting a new world land speed record, which it hopes to attempt at Haksteen in late 2020. In order to do that, it will have to beat the current record of 1228km/h, set by the Thrust SSC back in 1997. The Bloodhound LSR was originally designed to reach 1600km/h, but it remains to be seen just how close to that mark it will come.

The Bloodhound LSR is powered by an EJ200 jet engine, aided by a monopropellant rocket system. The jet engine, which is sourced from Rolls Royce, creates nine tonnes of thrust - which is the equivalent of around 54 000 thrust horsepower. 

A boost for South Africa

Bloodhound CEO Ian Warhurst enthused: “I’ve really enjoyed watching the team rise to the challenge over these past six months. Something which has been talked about and planned for so long is now really happening – and the team have taken it in their stride. 

“It’s also very important to remember that the team in South Africa have also risen to the challenge,” Warhurst added.

Picture: www.bloodhoundlsr.com.

“After so much work and several false starts, the Northern Cape Provincial Government didn’t hesitate to re-engage and have worked quickly and efficiently to help us finalise agreements and then mobilise the local workforce. This in return has brought much needed employment to the area to help us clear and prepare the track.” 

Crucial stage of development

This testing stage is a crucial one, says Bloodhound, as the 480 to 800km/h window is one of the most vulnerable stages for the car as this is the point where the stability of the car transitions from being governed by the interaction of the wheels with the desert surface, to being controlled by the vehicle’s aerodynamics. What’s more, the grip from the wheels will fade faster than the aerodynamic forces build up, so this is likely to be the point where the car is at its least stable, Bloodhound said.

“The high speed test programme will also be a full dress rehearsal for the record-breaking campaign, with the team using the time to develop their operational procedures, perfect their practices for desert working, and test radio communications,” Bloodhound said in a news release.

A logistical challenge

Moving the 6.4-tonne supersonic car from the UK to South Africa is a monumental logistical challenge in itself, the company said.

Much of the heavy support equipment, including the car’s trailer, has already set off to make the journey by sea, but the car itself will travel via air freight to ensure it isn’t damaged in transit.

The jet engine will travel inside the upper chassis, while the two metre tail fin has been removed and will travel upright in a wooden crate.

IOL Motoring