Team New Zealand have finally mobilized their wind powered land speed world record attempt in South Australia as conditions on the salt lake surface co-operate.
The ambitious project, aimed at breaking the 202.9kph mark set by Britain’s Richard Jenkins in 2009, has been on hold for a couple of months as unseasonal rain left the race track zone at Lake Gairdner in South Australia unworkable.
But Team New Zealand pilot Glenn Ashby’s most recent visit there gave him the confidence to push the go button and get the testing period under way to prepare for the bid when the right winds arrive.
“Everything has just arrived here at Lake Gairdner,” Ashby said as the containers rolled into the outback location from Adelaide where they have been stored, including the impressive land yacht Horonuku.
“The lake has dried out a lot from what it was a few weeks ago, the weather is a lot windier and warmer which is fantastic.
“Over the next couple of weeks, we will be looking to do some test runs in favorable conditions ideally and build up to put ourselves in a position where we will be able to have a crack at that world record.
“So hopefully whenever we are ready for a record attempt Mother Nature will play her part.”
Ashby has been using his down time wisely, including getting in some laps at Hampton Downs with the Toyota Gazoo Racing team and driving instructor Matt Gibson to increase his confidence at high speeds and general handling abilities.
“To break the record, I am going to have to be really comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Ashby said in terms of getting the land yacht on the edge of grip.
“The balance of the craft due to the huge side forces that we are going to experience is really going to give a lot of feedback to the cockpit, so learning that balance and how that feels is important.
Emirates Team NZ
Build-up for world land speed record attempt takes in Hampton Downs.
“Driving on the track was a fantastic stepping stone into what I should be looking for and some of the things that I should be expecting when I get out onto the salt lake at Lake Gairdner.”
Team New Zealand have done plenty of the commissioning on the runway at the Whenuapai air base in Auckland but are keen to let the land yacht stretch its wing in the wide open spaces of the salt lake.
EVOLUTION OF WIND POWERED LAND SPEED RECORD
142.2kmh – North Embroden (US) 1976
152.7kmh – Bertrand Lambert (France) 1992
175.5kmh – Bob Schumacher (US) 1999
202.9kmh – Richard Jenkins (GB) 2009