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Rising water swamps world speed record bid

01 June, 2004

Rising water swamps world speed record bid

A freak climatic event has forced a British team to postpone its attempt to set a new land speed record for electric vehicles. Earlier this month, the ABB e=motion team travelled to the Chott-El-Jerid salt flats in Tunisia where it was due to make its bid. The team marked out a track on the salt flats, but overnight the water table rose, turning large areas of the flats into an unusable swamp (shown below). This phenomenon affects the area every 15 years or so.

"The car needs a dry, flat surface on which to run," explains the e=motion`s driver, Mark Newby, "and this was no longer available to us".

The team, which had spent four years preparing for the attempt, was bitterly disappointed. "The problem is not the car or the engineering, which were superb," says Newby. "We`ve just been temporarily frustrated by the weather. The car itself [shown below] is ready and, as soon as we can find 11km of flat land, we`re ready to go."

The team is considering three options. It may attempt to set a new official UK record later this year - something that it achieved unofficially in testing last year. A second possibility is to return to Tunisia next year for another attempt on the world record.

The third option is to attempt to break the world record on a Tunisian highway. The country`s government has offered to close a motorway for this purpose. But, although there are straight stretches of the required length, there is a risk that the vehicle might veer off the road with potentially disastrous consequences.




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