Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Steam car record tests take place

The steam car
The car has 12 boilers that turn water into superheated steam

A racing team has had to abandon final tests on a British-built steam car ahead of an attempt to break a world speed record in the US.

The vehicle, which was built in the New Forest, had been taken to Thorney Island, near Emsworth, for a test run when technical problems set in.

The team plans to drive it at up to 170mph (274km/h) in Utah in the summer.

It aims to beat Fred Marriot's 128mph (206km/h) record set in 1906 on Florida's Daytona Beach.

That record is the longest-standing land speed record for steam-powered vehicles.

The British Steam Car Challenge team includes test driver Don Wales, nephew of the late Donald Campbell and grandson of Sir Malcolm Campbell, who between them achieved more than 20 land and water speed records.

BBC South transport correspondent Paul Clifton at the track

The vehicle, which weighs three tonnes, was undergoing a full test of its capabilities, including its steering, parachute deployment and braking systems, when technical problems meant it was unable to undergo a test run.

The tests were taking place at the Ministry of Defence's Thorney Island facility in Chichester Harbour, West Sussex.

The team hopes to attempt the test run at a later date.

Mr Wales said: "It is the longest-standing land speed record and we are doing it because it is a British attempt and the British do record-breaking the best."

He said its main engineering obstacle has been developing a compact boiler system to turn 40 litres (8.8 gallons) of water per minute into superheated steam at 400C (752F), at 40 times atmospheric pressure.

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