Hakskeenpan desert in South Africa will be home for the next month as the Bloodhound LSR team prepare for the car’s first high-speed test runs.
The high-speed tests will see Bloodhound put through its paces blasting along the Hakskeenpan desert racetrack where the team will swap the runway wheels used for the low-speed tests at Cornwall Airport Newquay and replace them with the purpose-built solid aluminium alloy wheels.
Once these narrower wheels, made specifically for desert testing, are fitted, engineers will be able to re-attach sections of carbon fibre composite bodywork to the front of the car, along with the nose section, which is vital for effective aerodynamics. The tail fin will also be fitted, completing the chassis and making the car ready for action.
The 10 mile (16 km) desert racetrack has been prepared by 317 members of the local Mier community, funded by the Northern Cape Government. They have moved a staggering 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.
The 25-strong team who flew out with the car joined an advance party who have been working to set up the 50 x 50 m Desert Technical Camp on the edge of the Hakskeenpan desert. As well as the Bloodhound car itself, it houses a temporary workshop, complete with the precision tools needed to fine-tune performance and maintain the car, including a lathe, milling machine and welding equipment.
The high-speed tests are planned to be more than twice as fast as the 210mph (338km/h) achieved at Newquay, taking the car up to in excess of 500+mph (800+km/h). This will allow the team to gather a whole range of key data about the car, plus other information needed to plan everything related to the record-breaking runs. This includes how the wheels interact with the desert, validation of the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) models and testing the parachutes.
After the tests, the car will be brought back to the UK. The Nammo rockets needed for the second stage of the run, to boost the car’s speed to a new record-breaking figure, will complete development and be fitted into the car. The Bloodhound LSR team will then return to South Africa with the car around a year after the high-speed tests, ready to break the record.