SSC Tuatara to rerun record attempt after online controversy

Several online personalities have questioned the validity of the SSC Tuatara’s record-breaking 316mph run – so SSC is planning a second attempt

Question marks have been raised over the legitimacy of the latest vehicle to claim the title of “world’s fastest production car” after video footage of the SSC Tuatara reaching a two-way average speed of 316.11mph on a closed strip of state highway just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada failed to correlate with claims. 

After analysing SSC’s video footage – and applying a little mathematics relating to the car’s drive ratios – internet mathematicians said the true top speed of the Tuatara was around 250mph, rather than the 331.15mph touted by the clip.

SSC’s CEO, Jerod Shelby, has since released a statement explaining that there had been a mix-up between the video and GPS data when the clip was edited together – and, to remedy the issue, the company will rerun the attempt in “the very near future.”

Shelby said that, after he and his team rewatched the raw video files from the attempt, they “were seeing the same doubts.” He continued, saying: “we were seeing different speeds for the very same run – and the more we looked and the more we tried to analyse, the more we were concerned there were doubts in the relationship between the video and the GPS.”

There was also some conjecture surrounding the GPS tracking company which SSC supposedly used to validate the Tuatara’s record attempt. At the time, SSC said it used 15 satellites and the Austrian company Dewetron to record the attempt – but Dewetron has since released a statement saying it had no official involvement in the record.

Shelby again offered a solution in his statement, saying that the next attempt will be performed under the watchful eye of “multiple GPS companies” – with representatives from each brand on-site to make sure the attempt is recorded as accurately as possible.

It now remains to be seen whether the Tuatara’s second attempt will deliver a high enough top speed to claim the “world’s fastest” record from the Bugatti Chiron SuperSport. However, that record is surrounded in its own cloud of controversy as, to be officially recognised as a world record, the car’s top speed needs to be an average of two runs on the same piece of tarmac – the Chiron SuperSport’s 304.77mph speed was only recorded in one direction.

SSC pulled a similar trick in the early 2000s with the Ultimate Aero. In 2005, Bugatti held the world’s fastest production car record with the Veyron, which had a maximum speed of 253.81mph. Just two years later, the Aero was launched – and it beat the Veyron by almost 3mph, posting a two-way average speed of 257.41mph.

SSC Tuatara: design and specs

SSC first announced the Tuatara back in 2011, before unveiling a production-ready version at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Since its conception, it was designed with one thing in mind – to break the 300mph barrier and crown itself as king of the hypercars.

Such a feat requires an immensely powerful engine – which the Tuatara has. It’s a 5.9-litre V8 with two turbochargers and a flat-plane crank, which pushes out 1,750bhp and 1,735Nm of torque. And, unlike most über-powerful hypercars, such as the Bugatti Chiron or the Pininfarina Battista, the Tuatara also does without four-wheel-drive. All of its power is sent to the rear wheels only via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox.

However, the Tuatara isn’t a stereotypically American approach to performance motoring – it’s more than just a rocket motor strapped to a raft. Its body and chassis are hewn from carbon fibre and have a dry weight of 1,247kg. The hypercar also has a drag coefficient of just 0.279, which is less than both the Chiron and the Koenigsegg Agera.

The car that featured in SSC’s now defunct record attempt also rode on conventional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres and was powered by commercially available fuel. This was done to keep the car’s specs identical to the production model, in an attempt to make the record as credible as possible.

What do you make of the controversy surrounding SSC’s record attempt? Let us know in the comments section below…

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