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British steam car breaks land speed record

A British-built supercar today broke a 103-year-old world land speed record for steam-powered vehicles.

The 7.7-metre British Steam Car, nicknamed the "fastest kettle in the world", reached an average speed of 139.843mph on two runs over a measured mile at the Edwards air force base in California.

The timing beat the previous record of 127mph set by an American, Fred Marriott, in a Stanley steam car at the Daytona Beach road course in 1906.

Marriott's was the longest-standing officially recognised land speed record. It was beaten by the team based in Lymington, Hampshire, with Charles Burnett III at the wheel.

Burnett piloted the car for both runs, reaching a peak speed of 136mph on the first run and 151mph on the second, a team spokesman said.

Record officials recognise a land speed record as the average speed of two passes made across the same measured distance in opposing directions within 60 minutes of each other. The time of the two runs is averaged to obtain the official recorded speed.

The new international record, which is subject to official confirmation by officials from the International Automobile Federation, followed a series of cancellations in the last week due to technical difficulties and bad weather.

Following the success, Burnett said: "It was absolutely fantastic. I enjoyed every moment of it. We reached nearly 140mph on the first run before I applied the parachute. All systems worked perfectly, it was a really good run. The second run went even better and we clocked a speed in excess of 150mph. The car really did handle beautifully.


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