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Triumph set to burn up the desert

Flat out: Triumph’s Rocket Streamliner world record-attempt motorcycle employs twin blown Rocket III engines running on methanol.

606km/h world record in Triumph’s sights at Bonneville Salt Flats next month


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24 Aug 2016

TRIUMPH Motorcycles and British TT racer Guy Martin have announced a September attempt on the six-year-old motorcycle world speed record at America’s Bonneville Salt Flats.

The team blew the dust off its 746kW twin-engine streamliner motorcycle at the iconic 18km salt strip in Utah last month, reaching 274.2 miles per hour (441.2km/h) in practice runs.

While that was well short of the 376.3mph (605.7km/h) world record for Division C motorcycles set in 2010 by American rider Rocky Robinson in his Ack Attack streamliner powered by twin four-cylinder Suzuki Hayabusa turbo-charged engines, it still made the Triumph Rocket Streamliner the fastest Triumph to ever turn a wheel.

But the August practice was designed to both test the 7.4-metre-long Rocket and also give Martin time to master the controls in readiness for a flat out attempt in September when – weather gods permitting – the conditions at Bonneville should be at their best.

Powered by two turbo-charged three-cylinder Rocket III engines running on methanol and revving to 9000rpm, the streamliner is encased in a carbon-Kevlar body just 61cm wide where 34-year-old Martin reclines behind the controls.

Englishman Martin, who has scored 15 podium finishes in the Isle of Man TT race, said in a statement on his website that he got the hand of steering the machine “pretty quickly” and then it was a case of building up speed.

“Wind is a big thing out here, so it is not just a case of jumping in and twisting the throttle,” he said.

Martin said the team “chipped away” and ended up with a best run of 274.2mph (441.2km/h).

“Everyone was dead happy, but that’s just one step to where we want to be,” he said.

Team chief and designer of the Triumph streamliner Matt Markstaller said that while conditions at Bonneville had been some of the best seen there in recent years, there was “still room for improvement”.

“When chasing a record such as this on two wheels, the conditions have to be the very best they can be, to give us the greatest chance of achieving the speeds we require to set a new record,” he said. “We feel that waiting a few further weeks will provide us with even better conditions and put us in the ideal position to make our record attempt.”

Thrill-seeker Martin, who has twice broken his back in motorcycle racing crashes, is no stranger to world speed records having set new marks for snow sled (134.3km/h), soapbox (137.7km/h) and motorcycle ridden in a wall of death cage (125.7km/h).

He also holds the British record for a hovercraft at 121km/h.

Like all these speed attempts, the Triumph attempt at Bonneville is being filmed for television in Britain where Martin is a TV cult hero.

At 2.3 litres, the Rocket III’s three-cylinder engine is the biggest series production engine in world of motorcycling, and bolting two of them together endows the Streamliner with a whopping 4.6 litres.

The Bonneville name has been associated with Triumph since 1956 when Texan speed freak Johnny Allen set a land speed record of 193.72 mph (311km/h) on a Triumph-powered streamliner, the Texas Ceegar.

Triumph honoured the event by unveiling the first T120 Bonneville at the Earls Court Bike Show in in London 1959.

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