Blood­hound SSC is go

1000mph bid would be boosted by use of 600bhp elec­tric mo­tor as the fuel pump


First 200mph runs achieved

Blood­hound, the Bri­tish 1000mph jet and rock­et­pow­ered land speed record chal­lenger, is plan­ning to con­vert at least one of its most im­por­tant func­tions to elec­tric power – if a suit­able tech­ni­cal part­ner can be found.

The project’s tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor, Mark Chapman, an­nounced a plan to use a 600bhp elec­tric mo­tor to power Blood­hound’s all-im­por­tant fuel pump, whose job is to de­liver one tonne of per­ox­ide cat­a­lyst to Blood­hound’s Nammo rocket mo­tors in the 18 sec­onds it takes for a 1000mph record run. At present, the car has a su­per­charged Jaguar V8 to pump fuel, but Chapman be­lieves elec­tric power would pro­vide much greater pack­ag­ing flex­i­bil­ity.

One pos­si­ble part­ner could be Chi­nese car com­pany Geely, an ex­ist­ing Blood­hound spon­sor, which owns the Swedish Volvo brand and re­cently an­nounced a 600bhp elec­tri­fied pow­er­train for its Polestar per­for­mance off­shoot. Talks are pro­ceed­ing, said Chapman.

Late last week, Blood­hound cleared the first of many per­for­mance hur­dles by com­plet­ing 200mph test runs on the 1.2-mile run­way at Corn­wall Air­port, Newquay.

The first day’s shake­down, con­ducted on the ninth an­niver­sary of the project’s in­au­gu­ra­tion, con­sisted of two noisy and spec­tac­u­lar runs at 202mph and 210mph in full view of spon­sors, sup­port­ers and press. At the wheel was Wing Com­man­der Andy Green, al­ready the world’s fastest man, hav­ing set the world’s first and only su­per­sonic record of 763.035mph on the Black Rock desert, Ne­vada, in Blood­hound’s pre­de­ces­sor, Thrust SSC, 20 years ago.

The Blood­hound project’s di­rec­tor, Richard Noble, him­self a for­mer land speed record holder, gave fur­ther de­tails of Blood­hound’s record-break­ing timetable as it moves to­wards 1000mph, a speed he de­scribes as “the limit of cur­rent tech­ni­cal ca­pa­bil­ity”. The car will run “very fast” next year, prob­a­bly to about 650mph on jet power alone, then will at­tempt to bet­ter Green’s ex­ist­ing record in 2019, and, if suc­cess­ful, will bid for the full 1000mph in 2020.

Blood­hound in­sid­ers aren’t yet say­ing where next year’s “fast” runs will take place. Their pref­er­ence is for the spe­cially pre­pared 12-mile track at Hakskeen­pan, South Africa, but weather (and pos­si­bly the de­mands of spon­sor­ship) may see the car run else­where in the world.

An ob­vi­ous pos­si­bil­ity could be Black Rock, which the team knows well, but it’s even con­ceiv­able that a Chi­nese venue might be found.

How­ever, the record runs will take place at Hakskeen­pan, where the Blood­hound crew em­ployed lo­cal work­ers for three years, clear­ing 8000 truck­loads of small stones from its al­most ge­o­met­ri­cally flat sur­face, en­tirely by hand, to make a track 12.4 miles long and 0.6 miles wide. The work greatly re­duced lo­cal un­em­ploy­ment, brought a new wa­ter sup­ply to the re­gion and spurred a brand new mo­tor­ing event called Kala­hari Speed Week. As well as suc­cess­fully com­plet­ing

their first shake­down runs, the Blood­hound crew has also an­nounced four new spon­sors: Bel­staff (a cloth­ing com­pany); Ren­ishaw (an en­gi­neer­ing group that has al­ready made Blood­hound’s printed ti­ta­nium steer­ing wheel); Cooper Tires; and Or­a­cle, an IT and tele­coms group that al­ready han­dles much of Blood­hound’s com­pre­hen­sive teleme­try and global com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

The Blood­hound project has so far spent around £30 mil­lion es­tab­lish­ing its Bris­tol base, build­ing the car and prepar­ing the Hakskeen track.

Team lead­ers es­ti­mate they’ll need as much again but are at last con­fi­dent of rais­ing it. “This whole project has flipped,” says Noble. “We’ve strug­gled for years to at­tract enough spon­sors, but now we’re get­ting lots of se­ri­ous en­quiries. Peo­ple re­alise we’re the per­fect way of spread­ing a global mes­sage.”

Team lead­ers es­ti­mate they’ll need an­other £30m, but are at last con­fi­dent of rais­ing it

Blood­hound achieved its aim of 200mph test runs in Corn­wall

Green guided Thrust to a 763.035mph world record in 1997

Blood­hound team has toiled for nine years to reach this point

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