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Without additional funding, Bloodhound LSR puts its land-speed record program on ice

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Photo courtesy Bloodhound LSR.

Less than a month ago, Bloodhound LSR owner Ian Warhurst believed the massive jet/rocket-propelled car could still make it back to Hakskeen Pan for a run at the world land-speed record in 2021. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic putting much of the world on lockdown and leading to tightened purse strings, all of those plans have been put aside.

According to an announcement from Warhurst earlier in March, the team needed roughly $10.25 million to continue after last year’s testing session in South Africa that saw the car reach a top speed of 628 mph. At the time, Warhurst–who had self-funded the effort since he bought the project in late 2018–had hoped to raise that money via one or more sponsorships.

However, in a statement released this week, he said that’s not bound to happen anytime soon.

“Discussions with a number of global brands were looking promising when COVID-19 struck and the sponsorship industry literally shutdown,” he wrote. “This means our ability to raise the necessary funds in time and consequently the window to conduct the LSR campaign safely in 2021 is now very likely to be missed.”

In his earlier statement, Warhurst had given a deadline for securing the sponsorship money of the end of March, otherwise, he’d have to shut down the project entirely. His more recent statement, however, acknowledges that the project may still continue once the pandemic subsides.

“As a result, we are planning to go into hibernation to reduce the monthly overheads to an absolute minimum and we’ll reboot conversations with potential sponsors later in the year,” he wrote.

Since the test session, the Nammo rocket, which the team sees as key to boosting the streamliner’s single Eurofighter Rolls-Royce EJ200 turbofan past the land-speed record, has been completed and installed in the car, though Warhurst said that development on that rocket was still ongoing. The land-speed racer itself also had yet to be fitted with a revised fuel system for the jet engine or winglets that the team planned to install on the tail fin.

While the Bloodhound team initially set its sights on surpassing 1,000 mph, Warhurst appears to have scaled that goal back to merely breaking the land-speed record, which Green set at 763.035 mph in 1997 in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada in the Thrust SSC. At the time Warhurst bought the Bloodhound project in late 2018, it had already spent £30 million and reportedly needed an additional £10 million beyond what it would have cost to break just the land-speed record to go on and eclipse the 1,000 mph mark.

The only other current contender for the world land-speed record, Australian Rosco McGlashan with his Aussie Invader 5R, still has a stated goal of 1,000 mph. McGlashan has not yet made any announcements whether the coronavirus pandemic has altered his plans.

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