Bloodhound is go! 200mph took just nine seconds in successful first run… Words Andrew English. Photography Stefan Marjoram.
Well they did it – 210mph, faster than promised and on schedule. The Bloodhound Land Speed Record team lived up to its word and wowed not just 10,500 visitors over three separate days at RAF St Mawgan in Cornwall, but millions of followers live online.
Bloodhound, which will travel at 70mph at idle on its EJ200 jet engine, had to be held back on the brakes before Wing Commander Andy Green floored it for five seconds, the jet flamed and roared, and then it was over. ‘The car ran for 20 minutes and it did two full-power runs, with full power for five seconds, and 0-200mph in just under nine seconds,’ said Mark Chapman, chief engineer.
‘So the exciting bits were about 18 seconds long, but people were here from dawn to dusk; the atmosphere was unbelievable.’ It didn’t just impress the public. I might have given a little squeak and Richard Noble was typically enthusiastic.
‘This is a really big engine,’ said the project director and former LSR holder, ‘and when it runs there’s a flame and a crackle and boom, and people think, “My Goodness”.’
The team has worked hard over the last month to make that happen. ‘We’ve had some interesting times working out how carbon brakes work, because they do take a while to warm up,’ said Chapman. ‘The cockpit footage shows Andy’s eyes looking like dinner plates when he puts his foot on the brake and nothing happens for a bit.’
Green, though, was typically unflappable. ‘There was only one slight surprise on the braking and that was more to do with the engine over-swing.’ This was a tendency for the Rolls-Royce Eurofighter engine not to immediately cut off its fuel supply when the throttle was lifted. ‘That’s why we do step-bystep testing, so you don’t find yourself going off the end of the runway at 70mph faster than you expect,’ he added. ‘The car is fabulous… it felt right; crisp and precise, you can feel it on the road; it’s super.’
The team now returns to its Avonmouth base, the next task being to package up the engine and replace the Jaguar V8 that drives the fuel pumps – delivering 800 litres of High Test Peroxide (HTP) rocket fuel in 20 seconds – with an electric motor.
There should be time because the schedule has been extended by 12 months for a visit to Hakskeen Pan next October to work up to a theoretical top speed of 600mph with the Rolls engine, returning in 2019 to break the current LSR of 763.035mph, and then again in October 2020 to have a tilt at Bloodhound’s target speed of 1000mph.