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Airfield battle for Brit legends

2013-07-09 08:02

BRITISH ICONS: A Second World War Spitfire fighter plane and a Range Rover Sport lined up for a drag race. Who won? Read on... Image: Newspress

LONDON, England - Two British legends of land and sky and war have engaged for the first time in a unique off-road race.

Two supreme examples of British engineering, the latest Range Rover Sport - son of the British army's fighting Land Rover - and the legendary Second World War Supermarine Spitfire fighter plane have engaged in a unique duel to measure their off-road mastery.

Watch the video - link at end of story...

The Range Rover Sport, the fastest production Land Rover to date and representing the latest advances in all-terrain performance, was pitted against Britain’s most famous fighter aircraft in a high-speed off-road race along the grass airstrip at the Goodwood Aerodrome in southern England.


Land Rover was invited to take part in the challenge, formulated by Goodwood’s FortyOneSix.com website. It provided a perfect curtain-raiser for the 2913 Goodwood Festival of Speed where the Range Rover Sport will have its UK dynamic debut.

The race – believed to be the first of its kind at the airfield – involved a drag race down and back on and over the airfield, punctuated by a nimble U-turn for the Rangey and a mid-air manoeuvre by the Spitfire. It was particularly challenging being conducted on the bumpy grass airfield, notorious for being a low-traction surface.

The Spitfire lined up for the contest was a 1945 model, its pilot Matt Jones from the Boultbee Flight Academy. The plane has a 1300kW V12 Merlin engine, maximum airspeed of 650km/h and its typical take-off speed is 130km/h, making it a strong contender for victory against the Land Rover.

The Spitfire was significantly slower off the line than the Range Rover Sport and Matt Jones, the man in the cockpit, has to figure out how best to get his aircraft turned in the air.

The challenge was by no means straightforward for the car either. Wet grass is one of the most difficult surfaces to conquer, and traction is an obvious issue for renowned JLR development driver Mike Cross.


Mike Cross, Jaguar Land Rover’s chief vehicle integrity engineer, drove the Rangey with its five-litre, supercharged, 380kW, V8. Even though grass is a challenging surface on which to gain traction, for both acceleration and braking. Cross still managed 209km before braking for the mid-race turn, the manoeuvre helped by the Range Rover Sport’s all-wheel drive and "torque vectoring" braking the inside wheels.

Cross said Land Rover was pleased to take up the challenge: “The team couldn’t resist the challenge to race such a British icon. It’s always difficult to find traction from a standing start on grass but the Range Rover Sport made a great launch. I was surprised by how bumpy the course was as I accelerated up to 200 and of course the other extreme challenge was to brake in time for the turn.”

Did the classic Spitfire or the cutting-edge Landy win the day. Watch the video for the answer.
Read more on:    land rover  |  goodwood  |  england  |  range rover

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