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Project Landspeed: The importance of support

by Emirates Team NZ Media 4 Dec 2022 01:52 PST 4 December 2022
Project Landspeed - Support vehicles from Toyota - Lake Gairdner - November 2022 © Emirates Team NZ

When there is not water on the lake, it is always all eyes on Hokonuku, but little has been said of the workhorses of the world record attempt.

The small fleet of essential Toyota vehicles play a critical role in the logistics on the ground at Lake Gairdner which without, the record attempt would be impossible according to Pilot Glenn Ashby.

“The vehicles we have are absolutely as important as any part of Horonuku” he said.

They cover a huge amount of bases for us out here in what is a pretty hostile environment. The roads out here are pretty rugged and the environment is extremely harsh around and on the lake.”

The team have been based at Mt Ive station which is a 45 minute drive back and forth each day across off road tracks, but that is where the vehicles work only begins.

“The vehicles are actually key to rigging the craft. We don't have forklifts, cranes or big jacks or lifts or anything like that, so the rigging of the craft with the wing and the pod arm involves a system using two Land Cruisers literally rolling Horonuku on its side and back up again.” Explained Ashby.

“In the rigging process there is zero room for error, they're an integral part of what we're doing and they need to be firing on all cylinders.”

The Land Cruisers are also used to tow Horonuku around the lake to the location of any speed runs, and in the initial phase would be used to tow Horonuku up to speed before Ashby would spike off the tow lind to sail under the crafts own wind powered thrust. However this is not a luxury afforded to a world record run which must be started by a push or under its own acceleration from a standing start.

The days can be long on the lake with an endless list of mechanical tweaks and changes to the craft that require an extensive armory of tools on the lake which Budi Walker is in charge of.

“One of the unsung heroes is our Toyota HiAce van that we've converted into a workshop to get all of our tools and equipment for setting up the Craft, down to the lake.” Said Walker.

“Anything to keep our process quick and efficient to running the craft on a day to day basis. It's evolved over the few weeks of being here, like each time you go down there and you're missing a part, we’ll add it to the van. Because of this environment, they’re a real crucial component of being able to operate out here at Lake Gairdner.”

There is never a shortage of additional material and equipment required also that needs to be on hand with the craft which at times can be up to 10km from the lakeside base. In this respect the Hilux is equivalent to an Emirates Team New Zealand chase boat when the team is testing their AC75 on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.

“The Hilux have been perfect for carrying loads and equipment as well as helping rig the craft. They have been ultra-reliable chase vehicles and for radio communications, while out doing our runs on the lake, there isn’t much they cannot do.”

“We're very fortunate to have such a great and enthusiastic partner in Toyota with us on this journey of innovation and technology to achieve something that has never been done before.”

With the outlook for the next week looking dryer in the current weather models, the vehicles can be pulling Horonuku out of the shed again sooner rather than later.

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