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Bentley Mulsanne gets Green light at Bonneville

The fastest person on earth goes flat out in Bentley’s flagship at Bonneville

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Bentley logo29 Jul 2013

By DANIEL GARDNER

THE fastest person on earth, Andy Green, has pushed Bentley’s flagship Mulsanne beyond its 296km/h limit with four passengers onboard and on a surface as treacherous as wet asphalt.

The former RAF jet ace used his experience as world land-speed record holder to pilot the $700,000 luxury sedan past its maximum speed – to 307km/h – in what he describes as the world’s fastest interview.

The high altitude of Bonneville in north-western Utah in the United States was expected to reduce the efficiency of the Bentley’s 6.75-litre turbocharged V8 engine but the thinner air reduced drag enough for it to better its own top speed.

Cars travelling at high speed are a common sight at the Bonneville Salt Flats, but Mr Green explained there was a lot more to the top-speed run than simply pressing the loud pedal.

While filming the high-speed run a helicopter unexpectedly moved position, creating a 100km/h cross-wind.

Helicopters have previously blown cars off course at Bonneville with disastrous effect but there was no time for Mr Green to change course or brake.

“The Bentley twitched ever so slightly, maybe one degree, a tiny tweak of the steering wheel and it just kept going at 300km/h,” said Mr Green.

Dangerous winds weren’t the only hazard presented to the team.

The salt surface at Bonneville actually gets wetter throughout the day so grip under the Bentley reduced as the day progressedMr Green explained that driving at high speeds on salt makes cars prone to oversteer and many land-speed cars can suddenly spin out without warning.

“Salt is a slippery surface. The coefficient of salt is about 0.5 – that’s about half what you get on dry tarmac. So you are looking at driving on tarmac in the pouring rain.”

But despite the challenges, Mr Green explained that exceeding the Mulsanne’s official top speed required no modifications.

“Race prep of the car consisted of putting the tyre pressures up from 2.6 bar to 3.3 bar – nothing else,” he said.

“To do the interview there were five of us in the car. We did a lot of the filming at peak speed simply because we could.

“Because it’s so quiet the sound-man had a microphone in the engine bay and another out by the exhaust to feed some of the noise back in to the sound track.”

Mr Green was recruited by Bentley as part of its ‘Visionaries’ team, creating a group of six global figures including actor Jackie Chan and FIA president Jean Todt.

Bentley head of marketing and communications Robin Peel is accompanying Mr Green on a tour of Australia and New Zealand promoting the Bentley Visionaries campaign.

“We thought, what a good idea to link the visionary idea of the car (Mulsanne) to a small group of select people around the world who, in their field, were the visionaries of their world,” said Mr Peel.

Andy Green will attempt to break his own land-speed record in a rocket-car called the Bloodhound in 2016.

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