`Rocket Man' breaks motorcycle record at 216mph

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The Independent Online
A BRITISH team smashed the UK motorcycle land-speed record yesterday.

The Gillette Mach 3 thrust-powered motorcycle, ridden by Richard "Rocket Man" Brown, achieved an average speed of 216.55mph over two runs. The previous record was 209.05mph.

The bike has three jet engines capable of speeds in excess of 500mph and Mr Brown and his team of engineers had hoped to beat the British land- speed record for any vehicle. That stands at 259mph, but two days of poor weather at Elvington airfield in North Yorkshire and technical problems meant they were unable to reach their ultimate goal. The problems included a faulty speedometer and parachute, to slow the bike down after its run.

But the team said they were not disappointed and they were hoping to go to America next year where they would try to beat the world motorcycle record, which stands at 332.15mph.

The bike needed to make two runs of the quarter-mile track within one hour. The first attempt yesterday achieved a speed of only 197mph and a second run had to be aborted because of the failure of a tow rope. But finally the bike powered up the runway to achieve consecutive speeds of 241mph and 196mph. The average of these two was then calculated.

Mr Brown said: "It was fantastic, I thought I wasn't going to do it on the second run, I prayed and hoped that I would get through fast enough and I did. I was in tears at the end. It is almost unbelievable. So much work has gone in and we have finally got it."

The team, who were celebrating with champagne, must wait for the record to be ratified by the European motorcycle speed record governing body.

This could take several months but they said it would not spoil yesterday's success. Mr Brown's wife, Paula, said: "I am very proud of him, he is a hero."