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Bloodhound SSC’s lead sponsor is Chinese carmaker Geely

Money (mostly) in the bank and all systems go for 1,000mph British jet-rocket car

Britain’s potential 1,000mph speed record car has a new sponsor. Richard Noble, former land speed world record holder and chief of the Bloodhound SSC project, today announced that Geely will be the lead sponsor for the upcoming record attempt, which is ultimately targeting that four-figure run in 2018.

Ring any bells? Geely, or rather, the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, is an automotive giant in China, on track to shift 700,000 cars in 2016. In Europe, we know it as the hands-off investment behind Volvo, which is currently on a roll making some of the most refreshingly relaxing luxury cars on the planet. Geely tends to know a good project when it sees one, then.

TG headed down to the Bristol industrial estate where the Bloodhound SSC is taking shape (or rather, being taken to bits), for the Geely announcement, and found Bloodhound in several rather large pieces.

It’s all part of the plan – having completed a ‘dry build’ to check it all fits together, the car will now be meticulously rebuilt before its ‘low speed’ 200mph test runs at Newquay Airport next spring, flank emblazoned with Geely insignia.

Why Geely? Well, aside from a Scrooge McDuck pile of money on offer, Noble and his driver Andy Green say they were taken by the organisation’s clout in China, a country which has never held or even attempted the land speed record.

An exploratory visit by Wing Commander Green last year saw the Bloodhound’s story relayed to eight million magazine readers and over 175 million social media users. Together with American lubricant input, a Norwegian rocket, Swiss cockpit instruments and British design and assembly, massive Chinese interest galvanizss Noble and co.’s ambition to inspire a global audience of budding engineers. 

One of the great things about the Bloodhound is how open and honest the project has been from day one, explaining the technical and logistical headaches that come with making a car that can be driven faster than the muzzle velocity of a handgun bullet.

Richard Noble spoke candidly of the challenges faced a year ago when, after a number of lucrative sponsorship deals were defaulted on at the eleventh hour, the project stalled as the money “slowed to a trickle”. Noble expressed his thanks for the team of engineers who “worked for ten months without pay to literally keep the lights on.” Even before Geely came on board, he promised his team and the media that Bloodhound would do the job, “come hell or high water.”

Even so, it’s not in the bag yet. Noble says 70 per cent of funding is secured, but all the debts to suppliers have been paid, and meanwhile, there are tweaks to be made to the car.

Norwegian company Nammo is sorting the fuel for the hybrid rocket and the fuel tanks need rebuilding, while at Bristol base, an army of behind the scenes worker ants sort the logistics of transporting a jet-rocket car and the associated manpower 7,800 miles to an arid, uninhabited desert. Namely, the freshly cleared Hakskeen Pan in South Africa’s northern cape. 

That being said, Noble has said with compete confidence that the Bloodhound will achieve 800mph within 12 months, finally beating Thrust SSC’s 20-year old record of 763mph, and maintaining driver Andy Green’s monopoly on driving at the speed of sound.

If the testing regime goes to plan, the ramp up to four-figure velocities will be set for the following year. Consider us very excited indeed.

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