Despite very difficult track conditions, Venturi and their partner The Ohio State University Center for Automotive Research established a new FIA land speed record with their 3000hp electric car, the Venturi VBB-3 at a one-mile average speed of 240.320 mph (386.757 kph). The record is subject to FIA homologation.
The Monaco-based Venturi team, that is also racing the FIA Formula E Championship, was targeting their previous electric FIA World Land Speed Record set in 2010 with The Ohio State University Center For Automotive Research with the Venturi VBB-2.5 (a previous 700hp electric vehicle) at 307mph (495kph), instead achieving a category record.
2015 marks the third year in a row that weather conditions have prevented the Bonneville Salt Flats from providing ideal race conditions consisting of a hard and dry track.
The Bonneville Salt Flats saw a very wet July causing the organisers of SpeedWeek to cancel their famous event which should have taken place August 8 – 14. The Venturi team was hopeful that the salt would dry for their mid-to-late August FIA World Land Speed Record attempt, but a heavy storm on August 7 delayed their plans.
It wasn’t until August 15 that the Venturi team was able to set up their headquarters on the Salt Flats in order to make a record attempt, shortening their schedule dramatically. The SpeedWeek event would have served as a preparation and practice before the FIA world speed record attempt. However, like last year, the team instead spent that time waiting for the track to dry and then for the “Land Speed Events” trucks to work around the clock in order to groom the track to remove any bumps and to attempt to have a very steady and flat surface.
Venturi VBB-3 driver Roger Schroer spent his time learning the track mile-by-mile to be prepared for speed testing which finally began on August 19. Despite the waiting period and delayed schedule, the track conditions were not ideal. A typical track for a world speed record attempt would be 12 miles long. However, due to the previous flooding of the salt, the team had only a 10 mile track to work with and throughout those 10 miles some segments were still partially wet and bumpy with clumps of mud and wet salt. These conditions led to problems with the vehicle, causing excessive shaking of the VBB-3 and it’s components and ultimately disrupted the electrical system. After careful consideration for the driver’s safety, the Venturi team and their experienced driver decided to make an attempt at the record on August 21. It was their first and last attempt because on the rebound run, the front cooling system tank was pierced.
“In eleven years here I have never driven on such a difficult track. The car was sliding on the surface from one side to the other due to soft spots and bumps,” said Roger Schroer, VBB-3 driver.
David Cooke, team manager, The Ohio State University Centre for Automotive research, added: “We went faster than we have ever gone with this car but it’s been a very difficult week on a very smooth track and we have done some damage to the car from extreme vibrations. But I am very confident that with a good track the VBB-3 can reach its target.”
Gildo Pallanca Pastor, Venturi Automobiles owner said: “Despite a rough track and an extremely shortened schedule, we have set a new record in our category. Our potential is still to be shown, but we have to be satisfied with what we have in the conditions we had to work with. And in this conditions we need to be very cautious with the safety of Roger.”
Photos by Venturi Automobiles