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Sat 19 Aug 2006 04:00 AM

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A JCB that could break the current land speed record?

UK Dieselmax team is aiming to break the 300mph barrier on the salt flats of Utah this week

Plant giant JCB will tomorrow attempt to break the land speed record for a diesel-powered vehicle — aiming to hit 300mph in the process.

The JCB Dieselmax team will attempt to make history at the spiritual home of land speed records, the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, with the fastest man on earth — Wing Commander Andy Green — at the wheel.

“Even moving the operation here from the UK is quite an achievement,” said JCB Dieselmax project manager David Brown.

“Our equipment accounted for over 20% of the capacity of a Boeing 747 cargo plane, and British Airways made a special diversion from Chicago to deliver our set-up to Salt Lake City.

He added: “In addition to setting up a fully operational team HQ at Wendover airport we now have to deal with issues ranging from winning the support of the local community to obtaining the necessary licence from the organisers to allow Andy Green to drive.

“Even being the holder of the outright land speed record doesn’t give him the automatic right to drive on the Salt Flats.”

Before arriving in the US, the JCB team undertook 22 test runs on a 2.5km runway at RAF Wittering in England. It hopes to make between six and eight test runs in the US before its record attempt. The car has never operated on a salt surface before, which is expected to be one of the main challenges facing the record attempt.

“We are now working in a very different set of conditions,” said Green. “Salt is a completely different surface and we don’t know whether we will experience wheel slip, which is a serious consideration at over 200mph. In addition the temperatures will be over 40°C.

“We’re aiming for 300mph, which would comfortably beat the existing record, but there are unknowns and there are always variables including the weather. However, this team is very capable of achieving its goal.”

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