Need for speed

land speed record on the Upington runway last weekend
land speed record on the Upington runway last weekend

Jaguar F-Type R Coupé driven into record books in SA

THE name Jaguar is synonymous with speed record attempts and another land speed record was set by one of their cars at the weekend. The Jaguar F-Type R Coupé is officially the fastest production vehicle in South Africa.

On Friday, at the Upington Airport in the Northern Cape, a small group of Jaguar employees gathered to watch the 405kW supercharged V8 coupé being driven into the record books.

The event was the culmination of more than six weeks of planning and saw Jaguar tapping into its heritage, recalling the 1940s and ’50s, when it famously set numerous European land speed records with the XK120.

“Not only do we say that racing is in our blood – we go out there and prove it,” Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) South Africa and sub-Sahara Africa managing director Richard Gouverneur said.

“Aside from being inspired by our history of racing and land speed records, we also wanted to show off the innovation, performance and safety of our vehicles.

“A car that’s capable of reaching 300km/h safely is many times safer at legal and safe speeds.”

At the hands of Dawie Olivier, national aftersales manager at JLR – and racer with more than two decades of rallying and circuit racing experience – the F-Type R Coupé reached speeds above 300km/h on the 4 900m runway at Upington Airport.

For the record to be official, two runs have to be completed in both directions, while time-keeping officials from Motorsport South Africa (MSA) measure speed over a 1km distance.

On the uphill section of the F-Type’s record-setting run it achieved a speed of 288.33km/h, while the complementing downhill run saw it crack the magical 300km/h mark with an officially-measured speed of 301.03km/h. The land speed record comprises the average of the two runs, and now sits at 294.68km/h – beating the previous record of 287.63km/h set in 2002, with Mike Griffiths behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT2.

“The F-Type R Coupé is limited to 300km/h, but we chose not to remove the speed limiter, even though the regulations make provision for us to legally do so.

“The car that we used is exactly as customers can buy it off the showroom floor,” Gouverneur said.

“Ultimately, we ran out of space to go even faster – however this was the safest venue to illustrate the potential of this vehicle.”

Official South African land speed record attempts are sanctioned by MSA.

In addition to enforcing safety compliance at sanctioned events, MSA ensures cars used for production vehicle record attempts are standard and within manufacturer specification.

-Bobby Cheetham

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