Matters of moment, June 2006

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Record breaking
JCB bids to take diesel mark up to 300mph
Bamford signs up the world’s first supersonic driver, Andy Green

Land Speed Record holder Andy Green will return to the cockpit in August to pilot Britain’s latest record contender – for world’s fastest diesel vehicle.

Designed and built by excavator company JCB, ‘Dieselmax’ aims to smash the present diesel record of 235mph, set in 1973, on its way to 300mph. Sir Anthony Bamford, chairman of JCB, sees the attempt as “a fantastic way of showcasing what British engineers can do.”

Two years in development, the slender 9m-long steel-framed vehicle packs two 750bhp turbocharged JCB diesel engines, each driving a pair of wheels, with the pilot between them. JCB wants to showcase its own four-cylinder 444 engine, more usually found in its back-hoe loaders but now boosted with two-stage blowers, intercoolers and water injection to four times the horsepower and a huge 2212lb ft of torque.

The sleek composite body is shaped by Ron Ayers, aerodynamicist on Thrust SSC, and the tapered nose conceals tanks containing ice for cooling.

After testing at RAF Wittering in England, Dieselmax will have trial runs on Bonneville salt flats from August 12-18, and go for the record a week later.