LONDON — In a unique race, two British legends — the Supermarine Spitfire and the Range Rover — recently competed against each other in a race down a British runway.
First off-road challenge of its kind over the grass airstrip at Goodwood Aerodrome, putting speed, agility and handling of both car and plane to the test
The Range Rover Sport, the fastest production Land Rover to date, 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 Sussex.
The race — the first of its kind at the airfield — involved a straight drag run down and back on the runway, punctuated by a U-turn.
The Vickers Supermarine Spitfire lined up for the contest was a 1945-vintage model, piloted by Matt Jones from the Boultbee Flight Academy. Powered by a 1,750-bhp V12 Merlin engine, it has a maximum airspeed of 400 mph, and its typical acceleration on take-off is up to 80 mph before the wheels leave the ground.
Mike Cross, Jaguar Land Rover’s Chief Vehicle Integrity Engineer, was at the wheel of the All-New Range Rover Sport, a 5.0-litre supercharged V8 model with 510 hp on tap. Even though grass is one of the most challenging terrains on which to gain traction, for both acceleration and breaking, Cross still managed to clock a top speed of 130 mph before braking for the mid-race turn, organizers noted.
Cross noted that Land Rover was pleased to take up the challenge: “The team couldn’t resist the challenge laid down by FortyOneSix.com and 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 off the line. I was surprised by how bumpy the course was as I accelerated up to 130mph, and of course the other extreme challenge is to brake in time for the turn-around, but the car felt composed throughout the whole run.”