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Friday, 21 December, 2001, 11:45 GMT
World's fastest rollercoaster opens
Riders on Dodonpa roller coaster
Three, two, one - blast off!
For 16 brave thrill seekers, the world's fastest rollercoaster opened in Japan on Friday, briefly reaching speeds of more than 170km/h (107mph) before snowfalls brought it to halt.

During the 1.2km (0.75 mile) circuit the Dodonpa rollercoaster drops a near vertical 52 metres (170 feet) before hurtling around an enormous bend inclined at a heart-stopping 74 degrees.

Dodonpa
Ht: 52 metres
Length: 1.2km
Speed: 171km/h
Dur: 1 min
G-Force: 4.25
Passengers experience a force of about 4Gs - you would normally have to fly a jet fighter to feel that kind of pull.

Those who rode it said it was like being fired from a rocket.

Rollercoaster fanatic Mayami Kawase said the sensation of speed was "incredible".

Dodonpa roller coaster
Nought to 171km/h in 1.8 seconds
"I could not open my eyes and I had to hold my breath," she said.

"You hear 'Three, two, one , Don... don... pa!' before blasting off."

Many of those who failed to get a ride had queued for hours but just the sight of the cars, accelerating from nought to top speed in just 1.8 seconds, had their pulses racing.

"I love roller coasters because of the thrill and the speed," one said.

"We're going to come back."

The Fujikyu Highland amusement park, home to Dodonpa, sits in the shadow of Mount Fuji about 100km (62 miles) from Tokyo.

It is a Mecca for rollercoaster enthusiasts with five rides including one of the world's tallest, the 64-metre Fujiyama.

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