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Bloodhound to head to South Africa for land speed record attempt

Image credit: Bloodhound

The Bloodhound Land Speed Record Project has announced that its supersonic car will be heading for high-speed tests on its specially prepared race track in South Africa this autumn, in hopes of setting a new world land speed record.

The project, with aims to hit speeds of 1,000mph, will take to the Hakskeen Pan track in Northern Cape in October this year.

Bloodhound successfully reached speeds of 200mph (320km/h) during UK runway trials at Cornwall Airport Newquay in October 2017, and the team aim to hit 500mph (800km/h) in South Africa.

Following its speed tests in South Africa, the vehicle will then attempt to break the land speed record of 763.035mph (1230km/h) before targeting 1,000mph (1610km/h).

“I’m thrilled that we can announce Bloodhound’s first trip to South Africa for these high-speed testing runs,” said Bloodhound LSR CEO Ian Warhurst. “This world land speed record campaign is unlike any other, with the opportunities opened up by digital technology that enabled the team to test the car’s design using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and that will allow us to gather and share data about the car’s performance in real time.

“In addition, we’re running the car on a brand new surface,” he added. “The wheels have been designed specifically for this desert lake bed, but it will still be vital to test them at high speeds before making record speed runs.”

The car’s Rolls-Royce jet engine will be used to test its performance and handling between 300mph (480km/h) and 500mph (800km/h), at which, during this stage, the stability of the car transitions from being governed by the interaction of the wheels with the desert surface to being controlled by its aerodynamics.

The high-speed trials set for October will allow the Bloodhound LSR team to test the live stream video stream at high-speeds. This is in preparation for the land speed record runs which are currently scheduled for late 2020.

The team’s attempt on the world land speed record is the first in the digital era, with digital platforms sharing the data from hundreds of sensors in real time to allow engineers to see exactly how the car is behaving as it dices with extreme speeds.

Data on the interaction between the solid aluminium wheels, used for the first time, and base drag measurements – which relates to the to the aerodynamic force produced by low pressure at the rear of the car, sucking it back – will give insights into the power required to set a new record. Sensors and more than 300 cameras built into the car will gather this information, which is set to be shared with academics at Swansea University, with students invited to analyse the data.

“High-speed testing is a key part of setting a new world land speed record,” said driver Andy Green. “Building on everything we achieved in Newquay in 2017, we'll learn a tremendous amount by going fast on the desert the car was designed to run on. This is where science meets reality and it all starts to get really exciting.”

The racetrack Hakskeen Pan has been prepared by 317 members of the Mier community in South Africa, having moved 16,500 tonnes of rock to create it. Furthermore, Bloodhound will use a 16km by 500m section of track, with large safety areas on both sides to allow up to 12 individual tracks side by side.

“This is important as we can’t run over the same piece of ground twice because the car will break up the baked mud surface as it passes,” Warhurst said. “We need multiple tracks, so we can build speed slowly and safely – going up in 50mph steps, comparing real-world results with theoretical data - and Hakskeen Pan is the perfect place to do this.

“The surface is hard, too, which means we've been able to design slightly narrower wheels that reduce aerodynamic drag. The desert surface also has a slight degree of ‘give’, which will work with the suspension to give a smoother ride, reducing vibration inside the car.”

Bloodhound, which has a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet engine, will cover a mile in 3.6 seconds at full speed.

In March, the owners of the Bloodhound supersonic car project unveiled a new look and name for the car, naming it Bloodhound LSR instead of Bloodhound SSC. The team are hoping that it will set a new land speed record.

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