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BRAKES PUT ON BLOOD­HOUND PROJECT

The Blood­hound SSC land speed project which aimed to set a new 1,000mph (1,610km/h) record in SA is dead.

The long-de­layed and cash­strapped project was of­fi­cially dis­banded last Fri­day af­ter be­ing un­able to come up with fund­ing to con­tinue. Af­ter be­ing put into bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion on Oc­to­ber 15, the Bri­tish­based team was hop­ing to raise about £25m (R450m) to con­tinue de­vel­op­ment of the jet-pow­ered Blood­hound car and at­tempt a new land speed record at Hakskeen Pan in the North­ern Cape’s Kala­hari Desert. How­ever, there was no re­prieve and the com­pany’s as­sets, in­clud­ing the SSC (Su­per Sonic Car), are be­ing sold off to pay back cred­i­tors.

“De­spite over­whelm­ing pub­lic sup­port, and en­gage­ment with a wide range of po­ten­tial and cred­i­ble in­vestors, it has not been pos­si­ble to se­cure a pur­chaser for the busi­ness and as­sets,” said joint ad­min­is­tra­tor An­drew Sheri­dan.

Andy Green, who was to have driven the car in its record at­tempt, said the car can be bought for about R4.5m and re­quired a team of en­gi­neers and mil­lions of dol­lars to get it run­ning.

Green, a re­tired British Royal Air Force pilot, holds the ex­ist­ing land speed record achieved 1,228km/h in the jet-pow­ered Thrust SSC in Oc­to­ber 1997 at the Black Rock Desert in the US.

The British project has so far been funded by spon­sors in­clud­ing Geely, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls-Royce, Rolex and the British mil­i­tary, which pro­vided a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet en­gine for the car.

A “low speed” pub­lic test of Blood­hound SSC in the UK last year saw the 13.5m-long, pen­cil-shaped car hit 338km/h. he The team, headed by for­mer land speed record holder Richard Noble, who was also be­hind the Thrust SSC record in 1997, planned to at­tempt a record run in SA in late 2019.

The Hakskeen Pan track in the North­ern Cape was cleared of more than 16,000 tons of rock and stone to smooth the sur­face. The track is 19km long and 500m wide, mak­ing for a to­tal sur­face area of 22-mil­lion square me­tres the largest area of land ever cleared by hand for a mo­tor­sport event.

SPEED LIMITERS COMING TO CARS

The world of Big Brother could hit car en­thu­si­asts hard with the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion push­ing for black boxes and ac­tive speed limiters to be fit­ted to all new cars.

The pro­pos­als for the sys­tems, which will mon­i­tor speed and safety sys­tems as well as man­dat­ing speed lim­it­ing that changes au­to­mat­i­cally with speed lim­its, have been sent from the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment for de­bate. The data-log­ging black boxes would col­lect and re­tain in­for­ma­tion “such as the car’s speed or the state of ac­ti­va­tion of the car’s safety sys­tems be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter a col­li­sion,” the pro­posal read.

The pro­posal’s EC spon­sors in­sist it will save 25,000 Euro­pean lives over the next 16 years.

The pro­posal is al­ready set to be op­posed by the Ger­man gov­ern­ment’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives, in­tent on pro­tect­ing both an in­dus­try with high-power au­to­mo­tive out­fits and its high­speed au­to­bahns.

If the par­lia­ment agrees, it could mean the slow death of high-per­for­mance cars from Europe, with the manda­tory in­stal­la­tion by man­u­fac­tur­ers of ac­tive speed-lim­it­ing sys­tems, which au­to­mat­i­cally adapt to each speed-limit change.

The sys­tems would not be able to be de­ac­ti­vated from in­side the car, nor be able to be tam­pered with from out­side it. Such sys­tems are al­ready avail­able from premium Ger­man car mak­ers, in par­tic­u­lar, but are op­tional for driv­ers to use, chang­ing speed up and down as speed-limit signs ap­proach.

“Speed lim­it­ing tech­nol­ogy was last year spec­i­fied on about two-thirds of Ford ve­hi­cles (in Europe) for which it was avail­able prov­ing pop­u­lar with driv­ers who want to en­sure they avoid in­cur­ring speed­ing fines,” Ford of Europe’s Ste­fan Kappes said.

For safety rea­sons, driv­ers would still be able to ex­ceed the speed limit by ac­cel­er­at­ing past the lim­iter, though the ac­tion would be recorded by the black box each time.

If the pro­pos­als pass the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, the Coun­cil will ne­go­ti­ate with mem­ber states to reach agree­ment early next year, and then all new cars will have to adopt the changes to meet type ap­proval or they won’t be able to be sold in the EU.

MCLAREN 720S GOES TOP­LESS

Just weeks af­ter show­ing the new McLaren Speed­tail and in­tro­duc­ing a new track pack for the 720S Coupe, the British man­u­fac­turer has un­veiled the all-new 720S Spi­der.

Billed as its most ac­com­plished con­vert­ible su­per­car yet, like all McLaren cars the new Spi­der is un­der­pinned by the strength and rigid­ity of car­bon fi­bre and in spite of the re­moval of the fixed roof, the com­pany claims there is no need for ad­di­tional strength­en­ing.

Rollover pro­tec­tion for oc­cu­pants in the Re­tractable Hard Top (RHT) su­per­car is af­forded by fixed car­bon fi­bre struc­tural sup­ports in­te­grated into the rear of the Monocage II-S. The new 720S Spi­der weighs 1,332kg 49kg, or less than 4%, heav­ier than the 720S Coupé. Lug­gage space is 58l with the roof raised.

The same ex­cep­tional 4.0l twin-turbo V8 en­gine that pow­ers the 720S Spi­der is un­changed from the Coupé. It pro­duces 530kW, or aptly 720 Met­ric Horse Power and 770Nm. Linked to a sev­en­speed trans­mis­sion, claimed ac­cel­er­a­tion from 0-100km/h is 2.9 sec­onds, 0-200km/h in 7.9 sec­onds and stand­ing quar­ter mile in 10.4 sec­onds all these fig­ures said to be 0.1 sec­onds off the pace of the Coupé. Ad­di­tion­ally, McLaren says the 720S Spi­der will gal­lop to a Coupé-match­ing top speed of 341km/h with the roof raised and, if you dare, with the roof low­ered, max­i­mum speed at­tain­able is 325km/h.

The RHT can be low­ered or raised in 11 sec­onds, with the op­tion to spec­ify a car­bon fi­bre-framed, elec­trochromic glass roof op­tion to al­low more light into the cabin.

We are un­able to con­firm lo­cal prices but we can tell you the first batch of 720S Spi­ders ar­rive here in March 2019.

The Blood­hound was to have at­tempted a new land speed record of 1,000mph at SA’s Hakskeen Pan.

The McLaren 720S Spi­der has a re­tractable hard top so that hair can be ruf­fled at 325km/h.

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