The 200mph barrier has been broken by the JCB DIESELMAX in UK testing for an attempt on the land speed record for diesel-powered vehicles on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, USA in August. During two weeks of testing at RAF Wittering, Peterborough, the diesel-powered JCB car achieved a top speed of 201mph and seven runs over 180mph.

“I’m so impressed with what has been achieved - exceeding 200mph really shows the potential of the car to break the record,” said Wing Commander Andy Green, the fastest man on earth, who is piloting the car. “Combined the engines have twice the power of a Formula 1 car and it’s remarkably easy to drive. It steers very well, the brakes work smoothly and the chassis is extremely stiff. That gives you the confidence you need when accelerating to very high speeds and then coming to a stop in a limited space.

“We’ve been working to an exceptionally tight timescale and we’re having to learn new things every day, from engine and transmission performance to parachute deployment,” he continued. “It’s impossible for everything to work perfectly when testing land speed record vehicles as you’re pushing the boundaries but we’re on target.”

Dr Tim Leverton, JCB DIESELMAX Project Director, emphasised, “We have learnt a huge amount about the car and the team has done a fantastic job of overcoming the many challenges we have inevitably faced in such a complex and demanding project. I am really proud that we have exceeded 200mph at this stage of development, and now we can be more confident about achieving our target of 300mph at Bonneville. The car is a testament to the very best of British engineering.”

Green is the Officer Commanding Operations Wing at RAF Wittering, which is in constant use by Harrier jump jets, is the best UK venue for preparing for the Bonneville Salt Flats as it is exceptionally flat. However, the runway is only 1.6 miles long compared with the nine miles available in Bonneville so this has limited the car’s speed to 200mph. During the trials Green has had 1200hp available while on the Salt Flats the engines will produce their full 1500bhp, allowing DIESELMAX to reach its true potential, weather conditions permitting. The current world diesel land speed record stands at 235mph, while JCB is targeting 300mph.

The team travels to the USA later this week to undergo further vital testing on the salt flats at the legendary Bonneville Speed Week event prior to the record attempt the following week. The race is therefore now on to dismantle the car and the technical support operation ready for air freighting everything from Stansted to Salt Lake City. The operation will then be reassembled ready to resume trials on 12th August.

Run Date Time Speed

  • 1 22 July 14.26 61mph
  • 2 23 July 18.17 100-120mph
  • 3 23 July 19.10 100-120mph
  • 4 23 July 20.15 112
  • 5 24 July 17.02 109mph
  • 6 24 July 18.42 127mph
  • 7 25 July 19.35 169mph
  • 8 26 July 17.45 129mph
  • 9 28 July 17.45 126mph
  • 10 28 July 18.22 153mph
  • 11 28 July 18.56 181mph
  • 12 29 July 15.30 40mph
  • 13 30 July 12.05 Warm-up
  • 14 30 July 12.25 153mph
  • 15 30 July 12.56 185mph
  • 16 30 July 13.30 191mph
  • 17 30 July 16.28 Warm-up
  • 18 30 July 16.53 201mph
  • 19 30 July 17.20 191mph
  • 20 31 July 12.35 Warm-up
  • 21 31 July 13.30 181mph
  • 22 31 July 14.15 195mph
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