Since record breaking has been permitted at the MIRA banked track at Milbrook this form of high-speed activity is returning to favour. We reported earlier in the year on records made there by some aged MGs and later by modern diesel-engined Peugeots saloons, and we heard that a Range-Rover had established more diesel-class records.
Now comes news that fresh British records for cars of 5,000 to 8,000 cc have been set up by an R-Type Bentley Turbo saloon, standard except for a larger petrol tank, which had already covered 36,000 miles. It was driven for an hour at the MIRA test track and broke ten records in the aforesaid class, including the one-hour record which famous record-breaker Capt. G.E.T Eyston used to regard as the most difficult of them all — he himself held the World’s hour-record in 1934 with the Panhard-Levassor, at 133.01 mph.
The Bentley has set the British hour record to 140.91 mph, bettering the former class record held by a Lamborghini by 8 miles 137 yards. Apparently it could have gone faster but speed was kept down to obtain the best balance between tyre wear and fuel load, apart from which, three minutes from the end of the run an unfortunate pheasant flew into the windscreen, damaging the laminated glass. The Bentley announcement also says the driver was hampered by fuel starvation, “caused by the road’s steep camber,” which is a quaint way of describing the banked track!
Apart from the new British hour record nine other such records were broken, five of these being Lamborghini records from the standing-start 50 km to 100 mile figures and four others, those that Parry Thomas had set with the Leyland Thomas at Brooklands in 1926, from 5 km to ten miles, at over 126 mph from a flying start, subject to official confirmation by the RAC/MSA. These are, of course, British class records, by way of comparison the World’s hour record stood in 1950 to the credit of Abe Jenkins’ Mormon Meteor at 190.68 mph. This is no way detracts from the Performance of this standard 6-3/4-litre R-Type Bentley Turbo, which has bettered the Lamborghini’s 132.83 mph hour-record by 8.08 mph.
John Foster, Bentley’s Marketing Operations Manager, says this records bid is part of a marketing plan to promote the Bentley and its new sporting image in Europe and the UK. “We are thinking of changing the R to mean record-breaker” he said. The Bentley ran on Pirelli P7 tyres.
Apart from these records, Saab have set upon impressive list of new duration records over very long distances, in the course of carrying out tests of three Saab 9000 Turbos at the Talladega Speedway, Alabama, USA. The drivers were mostly Saab engineers, but for the fun of it Erik Carlsson and Anders Norstedt joined in. The cars ran on Shell petrol, Shell TMO oil, and Pirelli P600 tyres, and they had Garrett turbochargers, as used on Saabs since they pioneered mass production turbocharging back in 1976. These Saabs were standard except for removal of the ACC and air-conditioning systems, that absorb some five bhp.
These impressive endurance runs were organised by Olle Granlund, Saab’s Chief Engine and Transmissions Engineer, who set the three cars a target of at least 3,000 miles a day for an indefinite period, at an average of over 125 mph from the start, including pit-stops. These production models were taken from the Trollhatten factory in Sweden by FISA officials, run-in for 1,000 km, and the tests in fact lasted for 20 days, on the track which is just over 2-1/2 miles to a lap, with three bankings, two at 33 deg, the other at 18 deg. The runs were timed by NASCAR officials and the records established will be presented to the FISA for ratification.
Subject to confirmation, Saab have established 19 new records for Class-B production cars, from 10 km to 50,000 km, and two new World records for 50,000 miles and 100,000 km. Speeds ranged from 126.064 mph to 137.010 mph (the latter for 100 miles), the World’s figures being 132.782 mph and 132.542 mph. These are incredibly impressive speeds, for production cars. For instance, up to the 1950s no American Stock Car record in this class stood at even 100 mph. Before the war Citroën established long-distance records of up to 133 days with more or less standard cars but these were mostly at under 90 mph or less. Before the war the World’s 50,000 mile and 100,000 kilometre record belonged to a 2.6-litre Citroën Six at 65.78 mph and 64.83 mph respectively set up at Montlhéry, in 1932. So the Saab achievement is extremely impressive, to put it mildly. — W.B.