Did the SSC Tuatara REALLY Set a 331mph World Record?

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Shmee150
Published at : 27 Oct 2020
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The SSC Tuatara claims to be the fastest car in the world, having recently hit a reported world record top speed for a production car of 331mph! However, the official video of the run poses many questions that introduce an element of doubt, so let's investigate and determine if everything is what it seems...

SSC report that on 10th October, 2020, the Tuatara in production specification form broke a top speed record with one direction at 331.15mph and the other at 301.07mph for an average of 316.1mph - beating the previous record of the Koenigsegg Agera RS by 38.2mph (from 277.9mph). The runs took place on the very same road, the Nevada Highway 160 from the intersection with Tecopa Road with the Tuatara's fastest direction heading South-East towards Las Vegas and the slow speed on the return.

After plenty of time spent viewing the videos and analysing the data presented from the run so far, let's calculate whether it's possible and investigate further into these numbers. There are a number of areas that don't quite add up; from the time travelling between the fixed medians on the road and the painted street markings, to the dashboard and telemetry data being out of sync, and also on the technical side with the engine and gearbox configuration.

A further topic of discussion not mentioned is the noticeable lag between the shift points recorded by the telemetry data which can simply be seen coming a few seconds delayed in comparison to the visual cues of the shift and rev counter, plus the audible sound of the RPMs.

This video asks questions, based on the information given so far. If there are answers, it would be fantastic to hear them and the accompanying data that lines up to prove that the record has indeed been broken.

FACTUAL CORRECTION: The rear tyre setup is 345, not 335 which produces a maximum 6th gear speed of 477.67 km/h - 296.15 mph, 3mph faster than suggested.

Information and data sources:

BBC Top Gear 331mph Record video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N22JfNHiC1k

SSC Tuatara vs Koenigsegg Agera RS head to head video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLoFKcH7zGo

Start location for the run:
https://goo.gl/maps/6ZzK3ZCppWJZqoxL6

Oli Webb confirming 6th gear for the run:
https://youtu.be/bkUuX5TLVes?t=204

Comparative Data:

Koenigsegg Agera RS 271.19mph in 5th Oct 2017
Average run speed of 277.9mph
Slower run SE, faster run NW of 284.55mph

SSC Tuatara 331.15mph on 10th Oct 2020
Average run speed of 316.1mph
Faster run SE, slower run NW of 301.07mph

Median Comparisons:

Start to 1st median
Distance: 1.69km / 1.05m
Time: 38.18s = 99.5mph avg

1st to 2nd median
Distance: 1.81km / 1.13m
Time: 22.64s = 179.7mph avg
Entry at 192mph, exit at 307mph

2nd to 3rd median
Distance: 2.28km / 1.42m
Time: 28.24s including a pause
Pause is 3:82
Total time: 24.40s = 209.5mph avg
Entry at 307mph, exit at 242mph

1st to 3rd
Total excluding the pause is 47.39s = 195mph
Entry at 194mph, exit at 242mph, 331mph along the way

Thanks for watching, Tim

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