The Bloodhound LSR car has arrived at the Hakskeenpan desert, Northern Cape, South Africa, where it will be readied for its very first high speed test runs.
The team’s first task will be to re-assemble the car, which has travelled in a semi‑dismantled state from Luxembourg to Johannesburg by airfreight, before making the final 570‑mile overland journey to the desert.
The world’s most powerful straight-line car was transported on the same pneumatic tyres used on a run in Newquay airport in 2017. As well as allowing the car to be manoeuvred on tarmac, the tyres also increase the effective damping of the car. They will, however, be swapped out for solid aluminium wheels ahead of launch.
The narrower aluminium wheels have been made for desert testing and once fitted engineers will then re-attach sections of carbon fibre composite bodywork to the front of the car, along with the nose section. The tail fin will also be fitted, completing the chassis and making the car ready for testing.
The 25-strong team who flew out with the car joined an advance party who have set up the 50×50 m Desert Technical Camp on the edge of the Hakskeenpan desert which is home to the Bloodhound car and a temporary workshop.
The fully assembled Bloodhound LSR car will be unveiled on 21st October before it begins the high-speed test programme. The tests will build speed gradually in 50mph increments over a month. The culmination of the four-to-five weeks will see the car hitting speeds of 500+ mph (800+ km/h).
Bloodhound LSR driver and current World Land Speed Record holder Andy Green said: “After years of work to prepare the car, and following almost a decade of preparation of our desert track by the Northern Cape Government, we’re delighted to finally be here. The next few weeks will allow us to test the car and train the team, ready for our assault on the Outright World Land Speed Record next year.”
The 10 mile (16 m) desert racetrack has been prepared by 317 members of the local Mier community, funded by the Northern Cape Government. They have moved 16,500 tonnes of rock from 22 million square metres of dry lakebed – the largest area of land ever cleared by hand for a motorsport event.
Bloodhound CEO Ian Warhurst said: “The section of the track we’ll use is 16km (10 miles) by 250m, with large safety areas on both sides. This allows us to lay out up to 25 individual tracks side by side, if we need them. 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. We need multiple tracks so we can build speed slowly and safely – going up in 50mph (80 km/h) steps, comparing real-world results with theoretical data – and Hakskeenpan 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.”