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Bloodhound dream a reality

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“The LSR has changed hands in the meantime, but this has made the team even more determined to see this through”

AN 11-YEAR-long dream has finally become a reality for Bloodhound Land Speed Record (LSR) driver Andy Green.

Green was speaking yesterday at the first launch of the Bloodhound LSR car at Hakskeenpan, the middle-of-nowhere pan, just outside of Mier in the Northern Cape.

“We have been through many ups and downs that we have got this far is a miracle,” Green said.

“The LSR has changed hands in the meantime, but this has made the team even more determined to see this through,” Green said.

According to Green, Hakskeenpan was chosen for this landmark event as it provides high-security, perfect weather and a flat pan.

“However, it wasn’t so flat when we first came out here 10 years ago. The workmanship has been absolutely unbelievable. All those who worked on making the pan into the racing surface it is today received high honour from the FIA motoring body. The chairperson flew in and presented each and every one with a certificate for their hard work. This is indeed a rare honour,” Green said.

This is the first time that the car has been seen with its precision-machined solid aluminium wheels, made specially to withstand the stresses of travelling at supersonic speeds. For this first test session, the wheels will be tested up to 800km/* .

The car is set to eventually break the previous land speed record of

1 227.9 km/* . This record is held by the Thrust SSC. The record was set in 1997 by a UK team led by Richard Noble and driven by Green.

The world’s fastest straight-line car, powered by a state-of-the-art EJ200 Eurofighter Typhoon engine, was rolled out yesterday and presented to Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul.

“The people of the Northern Cape Province and I am sure that the rest of the country and continent is in full support of the Bloodhound LSR and we are honoured that we have been chosen and partnered with for this historical event. As this administration, we have articulated a vision of a modern, growing and successful Province and this can only be attained by attracting shareholders to invest in key sectors of the Province,” Saul said yesterday.

He added that this would enable the Northern Cape to tackle challenges of underdevelopment, unemployment and poverty. “Events such as this have the potential to contribute to much-needed job creation and skills development as well as infrastructure development for the surrounding communities.”

Saul said that now that Hakskeenpan was on the map, the Northern Cape provincial government would not forget the local community of Mier, who painstakingly cleared the pan of almost

1 600 tons of little stones.

“It is already in our portfolio book. We will continue to market this region as an extreme sports area where we can absorb these workers once the project is completed. “

The Northern Cape Department of Tourism also arranged numerous events during the launch.

“We wanted to show the media that there are also other cultural activities in the region. This part of the Northern Cape is steeped in cultural richness and we want to showcase this to the rest of the world,” Northern Cape Tourism CEO Sharon Lewis said.

One of the workers who has been part of the Bloodhound LSR project since the start 10 years ago, said yesterday that nobody would believe what it has meant to not only him and his family, but the community at large.

“It has put food on our table and to be part of this tremendous international project, I can’t even put it into words. We were approximately 300 people who were involved when the project started, but as it advanced, obviously the workforce dwindled. We just hope that the Northern Cape provincial government will not forget us when the record is broken and the project has come to a complete end,” said Andrew Louw.

He added that he was like a proud father. “To see the fruits of our labour today I am so proud.”

One of the key objectives of this test will be to examine how much drag the car creates in a number of scenarios and at various speeds, using wheel brakes, one or both of the drag parachutes, and with the giant airbrakes locked into position.

The Bloodhound LSR team said it was incredibly grateful to the Northern Cape provincial government and members of the local community.

The team will continue testing the vehicle for the next few weeks building up to speeds of 800km/* before returning next year to attempt to break the land speed record.