A Bentley Continental GT Speed driven by actor Idris Elba has set a new British land speed record. The "Flying Mile" takes the average speed of a vehicle across two rolling-start runs of a mile (1.6 km) each. Elba achieved an average speed of 180.361 mph (290.263 km/h).
The new record, independently verified by the UK Timing Association, breaks one set by British racing driver Sir Malcolm Campbell almost 90 years ago. Campbell set a speed of 174.8 mph (281.3 km/h) in his Napier-Campbell Blue Bird car at Pendine Sands, Wales, in 1927.
Elba's attempt also took place at Pendine Sands, selected for its large flat expanse of space. A one-mile course was set and verified and Elba was allowed as long a run-up as the location could provide.
Bentley tells Gizmag that the course had to be thoroughly checked, with low-speed passes made and the changing sand conditions monitored. The tide and weather also had to be monitored, with light rain causing a slight delay to proceedings.
Other than using tire pressures optimized for high speeds, the Continental GT Speed employed a standard setup. It has a 6-L twin-turbo engine that produces 635 PS of power and 820 Nm (605 lb ft) of torque, as well as an eight-speed close-ratio automatic transmission.
According to Bentley, around five runs in total were carried out over the course of about two hours, including those required for testing. For the record to be counted, its outward and return runs had to be completed within an hour of each other.
The record attempt was part of an upcoming four-program Discovery Channel series called Idris Elba: No Limits. Bentley is said to have been approached by the production company having had previous experience of testing at Pendine Sands.