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The Bloodhound land speed record car hit 628mph

South African test concludes with a whopping final top speed. But there's still work

Bloodhound has finished its high speed testing programme in South Africa, hitting 628mph. Not a record, but then that was never the intention. This first outing to Hakskeen Pan was about data gathering prior to a full record attempt, hopefully next year.

Still, 628mph is fast. If you count in metric it’s beyond the magic 1,000kmh barrier, and puts Bloodhound in the thick of previous land speed record contenders. Although only set in one direction, it neatly bisects the Blue Flame’s 622mph two-way record-setting average from 1970, and Thrust 2’s 633mph record set 13 years later.

The 628mph mark was hit five miles into the run, at which point Bloodhound had been moving for around 50secs. Subsequent study showed that in some areas the airflow had actually gone supersonic, stripping the paint from an area three metres behind the front wheels. Andy Green lifted off the throttle at 615mph, and the car’s momentum, plus the last of the fuel running through the Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine, carried it the extra 13mph.

Andy Green commented: “The stability and confidence the car gives me as a driver is testament to the years of world class engineering that has been invested in it by team members past and present. With all the data generated by reaching 628mph, we’re in a great position to focus on setting a new world land speed record in the next year or so.”

The existing record of 763.035mph, set in 1997, is now ‘only’ 135mph ahead. The challenge of getting there should not be underestimated, especially as predicting what happens beyond the speed of sound is an inexact science. However what’s for sure is that, all being well, next year Bloodhound will have the necessary power to take the record beyond 800mph. A Nammo monopropellant rocket – emitting nothing but steam, but delivering around 36,000bhp to complement the 54,000bhp jet – is currently in development.

Although the team had one or two setbacks – including having to partially dismantle the car to locate and change a misfiring sensor – the test programme has otherwise been a total success. The car is now being packed up ready for transport back to the UK, where it will be stripped, checked and the search for further sponsorship and funding will continue.

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