The Bloodhound 1,000mph World Land Speed Record challenge has received a rocket-boost in backing with Chinese automotive giant Geely joining the team in its most significant sponsorship deal to date.
Zhejiang Heely Holding Group, owner of Volvo and the London Taxi Company, is the new prime sponsor and official automotive partner of the Bloodhound project, signing up for a three-year commitment.
It’s put the project back on track after a year of financial hardship that saw the engineering team reduced to just a skeleton staff – who for the past 10 months, revealed project leader Richard Noble, have been working without pay.
“We are going to get this thing done,” he said today at Bloodhound’s Bristol HQ. “We WILL set a new world speed record at the end of 2017. As of today, we are on our way.”
Bloodhound driver Andy Green – already the world’s fastest man after driving Thrust SSC to 763mph in 1997 – revealed the team first went to China 18 months ago, as part of a ‘Great Britain’ trade mission. He was worried how China, a nation with a relatively brief automotive history, would react to the Bloodhound challenge.
“It was the most extraordinary result. Within hours, we had 175 million mentions on social media – for sheer size and enthusiasm, there’s nothing to beat it.”
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Now the engineering team is back up to full strength, Noble said the project is moving quickly ahead. In summer 2017, the first low-speed 200mph runs will be held at Newquay airport, before departing for South Africa.
At Hakskeen Pan, “the world’s fastest racetrack”, the team will set up and prepare for their first runs. The objective is to set a new world land speed record by the end of the year, before going for the target 1,000mph speed in 2018.
All the time, one of the world’s largest educational programmes ever undertaken will be running; the target is to involve 100,000 schoolchildren this year, as well as taking the overall Bloodhound message to more than 200 countries globally.
So does Geely’s arrival mean Bloodhound now has enough money to press ahead without financial worry? Well, not quite, said Noble. “We’ve cleared all our debts and have 70% of our budget – so, yes, we still welcome donations!”