Pictures: Charlie Sperring via Newspress.
Pictures: Charlie Sperring via Newspress.
Pictures: Charlie Sperring via Newspress.
Pictures: Charlie Sperring via Newspress.
Pictures: Charlie Sperring via Newspress.
Pictures: Charlie Sperring via Newspress.

HAKSKEENPAN, NORTHERN CAPE - Following a week that began with a few teething troubles, the Bloodhound Land Speed Record team has completed three successful runs on the Hakskeen Pan in the Northern Cape.

The most recent of these saw the British-built supersonic car hit 537km/h on Monday, its highest speed ever. 

The vehicle’s first run, which they limited to 160km/h, was purely to check if the steering and brakes were in working order. The second outing doubled that speed using max dry power (power without extra fuel for reheat), followed by a coast down to measure rolling resistance. The third run saw the team using full reheat, with stability tests conducted before and after the peak speed was reached.

The eventual aim is to reach 1600km/h, which would shatter the current record of 1228km/h, set by the Thrust SSC 22 years ago.

It certainly helps that the nominated driver, Andy Green, is the same man that broke the aforementioned world land speed record. Green is rather happy with the progress made thus far with the Bloodhound car:

“We’ve had two very successful runs today, with the second run reaching a max speed of 334mph (537km/h) - going from 50mph to 300mph (80 - 483km/h) in 13 seconds. There was a strong cross wind gusting at over 15 mph and we’ve established that this is pretty much the limit for running in the car. We’re happy because this was a successful test, now we’re ready to progress on to higher speeds.”

According to the Bloodhound team, the high speed testing programme has now officially kicked off, with all systems necessary for running with reheat having now been tested and checked. The current testing phase is expected to see a top speed of 800km/h reached, which will be built up towards in 80km/h increments.

It’s been more than a week since the LSR team arrived at the salt pan, and it has been anything but plain sailing. 

First there was trouble getting the Typhoon EJ200 jet engine fired up. The team expected some issues as the engine had been in storage for a long time and the anti-corrosion fluid would need to be burned off, which could take a few start attempts. However, after two unsuccessful attempts, engineers became suspicious because they couldn’t smell fuel. After a few checks, it became apparent that the fuel sensor calibration was faulty. After fixing this, the anti-corrosion fluid was burnt off, but the start-up cycle took four seconds longer than the permitted one minute start process allowed by ECU for safety reasons.

According to the Bloodhound team, the heat and altitude proved too much for the Air Start Cart. This is a piece of ground support equipment with a small jet engine which is plugged into the car and acts as a starter motor for the main engine.

To help it engage, the team turned the Bloodhound car into the wind, which helped add a few percentage points of power through the jet engine. A head wind helped spin the jet’s turbine, and this time the jet started perfectly and sustained power for the required amount of time to allow the ‘fill to spill’ oil checks to be carried out. After shutting down, while the car was towed back into the tech centre, a water leak was spotted. This proved to be a split in some welding on a coolant tank, caused by another pump issue.

After all the dust had settled, Bloodhound LSR CEO Ian Warhurst remarked: “I’ve been impressed with the tenacity of the team to work through a challenging first week of testing in the Kalahari Desert. With all those issues resolved it’s exciting to be moving into the high speed phase of the testing and get a max reheat run under our belts”.

IOL Motoring