HAKSKEENPAN, NORTHERN CAPE - The Bloodhound Land Speed Record team have released pictures of their supersonic car in its final form.

This comes after the car landed in South Africa for the first time recently, to commence its high speed testing programme at the Hakskeen Salt Pan in the Northern Cape, which is where it will attempt a new world land speed record in late 2020.

This is also the first time that the British-built car has been seen with its machined solid aluminium wheels, which were specifically made to withstand supersonic speeds. 

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.

During the first test session at Haksteen, the car will be tested at speeds of up to 800km/h by driver Andy Green, and the team will build up to this in small increments as it evaluates how the car behaves while slowing down from high speeds.

The team will also observe how much drag the Bloodhound LSR creates at various speeds and in different situations, using the wheel brakes, one or both of the drag parachutes, and with the giant air brakes locked into position. Data from the car’s 192 sensors will be cross referenced against the team’s projected models.

In order to break the world land speed record in 12 to 18 months from now, the car will have to beat the current record of 1228km/h, set by the Thrust SSC 22 years ago. The Bloodhound LSR was originally designed to reach 1600km/h, but it remains to be seen how close it will eventually come to that mark.

The team are even installing ‘remote micro-climate’ weather stations every 1km along the track, which will allow them to monitor the conditions in real time, while also helping to avoid cross winds, which will affect the stability of the Bloodhound LSR at high speeds.

Or as Digital Catapult tech company spokesperson Peter Karney puts it: “The car is aiming to go faster than any other land-based machine built thus far. At the speeds hoped for, unexpected cross wind could significantly affect the stability and direction of the vehicle and are therefore a key decision point on when to run the car.

“We will be measuring and storing accurate data at 1 km points along the track and therefore this info can be used by the team to plan the run.”

Of course, the run also requires a smooth surface. To that effect, the Bloodhound team have commended the Northern Cape provincial government and local community members, who undertook the painstaking process of removing 16 500 tonnes of rock from the 16km stretch to ensure a smooth run for the supersonic car. Incidentally, it is the largest area of land ever cleared by hand for a motorsport event.

IOL Motoring