Honda set new land speed records at Bonneville Flats

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The Independent Online

Jenson Button's Honda team lifted the gloom after their French Grand Prix troubles by setting new land speed records yesterday.

The Brackley-based team recorded an average speed of 397.360kph (246.908mph) over two timed miles at the Bonneville salt flats in Utah. The British Formula Three champion, Alan van der Merwe, was at the wheel but he missed the stated target of breaking the 400kph average.

Honda, who failed to get either Button or his team-mate Rubens Barrichello to the flag at Magny-Cours, ran a legal Formula One car in their record attempts but used a rear fin rather than a wing.

On Thursday Van der Merwe had clocked a speed of 400.450 kph (248.840 mph), but that time was not be recorded as an official land speed record because the team were unable to match the same top speed on the return leg of the journey. The slower second leg reduced the aggregate speed over both runs to 393.613 kph (244.580 mph).

Nevertheless, an intensive week of speed runs leaves Honda with three new land speed records in various categories and the South African was proud of that achievement.

"The feeling is satisfaction with what we achieved. It would have been nice to have a round number for the record and we are only two and a half kilometres per hour off that," Van der Merwe said. "In fact, we know we did everything possible to the car - we timed it exactly right today with the weather and we are pretty sure we couldn't have got more out of it. I am really happy and slightly relieved as well, because it has been really stressful."