Guy Martin's land speed attempt gains traction

NWSLC, MIRA, Guy Martin

Former motorcycle racer, TV presenter and author Guy Martin, has completed initial tests in the 1200shp ‘52 Express’ streamliner in which he plans to attempt the motorcycle land speed record in Bolivia next year. Tests were made of the steering and braking system and Guy was able to verify how the vehicle handles at low speeds.

The MIRA Technology Institute (MTI) is supporting the land speed record attempt and has provided access to its specialist automotive workshops to enable partners HORIBA MIRA to carry out body shape and air intake assessments that will inform the design of the carbon fibre bodywork. Motorsport and engineering students from North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) are due to design and produce retractable skid plates for the vehicle, researching appropriate materials, carrying out testing and inspection, and creating prototypes using the MTI’s 3D printer. Students will also explore sustainable manufacturing processes for the production of the skids.

The first tests were conducted as part of a trial at the historic North Weald Airfield in Essex and included an engine run-up on stands to check the driveline and to bed in the rear brake pads followed by low-speed towing runs to test steering and stability. The results were described as ‘positive and encouraging’ by team principal and project founder Alex Macfadzean.

The 52 Express project aims to set the FIM Motorcycle World Land Speed Record in Bolivia in 2022 with Guy Martin at the helm and a target to beat 376.363 mph. HORIBA MIRA continue to assess options for its new streamlined body to enable optimum air intake into its 1200shp Rolls Royce Gem engine that previously powered a Lynx helicopter.

The 52 Express vehicle sports twin parachutes, 500mph rated tyres, aluminium swing arms with single coilover suspension and custom wheel, and Kevlar belt transfer boxes and final drive. Alex Macfadzean was joined by team manager Bernie Toleman at North Weald to sign off the test results.

Guy Martin, a former apprentice mechanic, visited the MIRA Technology Institute in June 2021 at the inception of the project and was impressed with the facilities at the MTI which is equipped with state-of-the-art kit to help deliver the skills currently in demand in the dynamic and fast-moving automotive sector.

Lisa Bingley, Operations Director for the MTI said, “We enjoyed welcoming the 52 Express team to the MTI and it was a privilege to meet Guy Martin. The news on the latest tests sounds very positive and we look forward to hearing more as the project unfolds. We are pleased to lend our support to the motorcycle land speed record attempt and are pleased to see the MTI logo now appearing as part of its livery and on Guy’s test suit. We hope that the team continues to make positive progress with their preparations and wish them the best of luck.”

Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Principal and Chief Executive of North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College said, “In supporting the 52 Express team, the MTI is showing its support for the types of projects that STEM careers can lead to and we hope it will inspire young people to find out more about career routes in the automotive sector.

“From a career perspective there has never been a better time to join the transport sector as it addresses the live and pressing challenges of autonomous, connected, and shared vehicles, electrification, cybersecurity, and emissions. Projects like the land speed record create challenges that can stimulate innovation in automotive engineering.”