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Last Updated: Monday, 14 June, 2004, 14:19 GMT 15:19 UK
Branson sets cross-Channel record
Sir Richard Branson in the Gibbs Aquada
The Aquada can reach speeds of 30mph in the water
Sir Richard Branson has set the record for the fastest crossing of the English Channel by an amphibious vehicle.

He drove into the Guinness Book of Records on Monday in the Warwickshire-built Gibbs Aquada, crossing in one hour, 40 minutes and six seconds.

The current record of six hours was set by two Frenchmen.

The Virgin Group chief made the Dover to Calais journey as part of celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of Virgin Atlantic.

It is a great beast - it drives fantastically well on land and then it turns into the most remarkable boat on water
Sir Richard Branson

As he set off from Dover, a fly-past was made by one of the company's Airbus jets.

When he rolled onto ramps placed on the beach at Calais, he was greeted by the town's mayor, reporters and locals.

The Gibbs Aquada, which is manufactured in Nuneaton, looks like a sports car and can reach speeds of more than 100mph on land and 30mph on water.

It takes about 10 seconds for the car's wheels to retract, the power to switch and the boat to take off, according to Gibbs Technologies, the company behind the car.

Ferry waves

The accelerator can then be used as a throttle in the water.

Sir Richard said: "A couple of waves caused by some ferries went straight over the top of us, but otherwise it went really well.

"It is a great beast. It drives fantastically well on land and then it turns into the most remarkable boat on water."

It took seven years of work by 70 engineers and designers at the Gibbs Aquada headquarters to launch the car.

Those who want to buy their own vehicle can expect to pay about 75,000.

The BBC's Simon Montague
"This is another classic Branson jamboree"

In pictures: Driving the waves
14 Jun 04  |  In Pictures
Amphibious car drives over water
03 Sep 03  |  London

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