Bentley sets new speed record, but underwater

The new Continental GT Speed spooled up its mighty hybrid powertrain and flew through a tunnel some 292 metres below the sea level. Why? Because why not.

One of the great joys of being a young person was, and maybe still is, picking up the latest edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. So many interesting things to learn, so many bizarre pictures, and so many records you’ve never heard of. Longest fingernails, fastest person to open 100 cans of beans, and so on.

What said book always revealed is that anything could be a world record, really, if you wanted it to be. What’s the fastest a car has ever been driven underwater, for example. Thankfully, the lovely people at Bentley have answered that with their new Continental GT Speed, by driving it through a tunnel in Norway at 208mph. They say that it is the unofficial ‘Underwater Speed Record’. I am willing to believe them.

The record comes ahead of the car’s public debut at this week’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, where it will be taking on the famous hill climb twice a day from Thursday until Sunday. The car will also be on display in a bespoke FOShtank (which I believe stands for Festival of Speed htank), alongside the film of the underwater record. 

Mark Higgins prepares to drive extremely quickly through a Norwegian tunnel — with the blessing of the police, it’s important to add.

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Petrolheads will still be mourning the loss of Bentley’s W12 engine, widely regarded as one of the best ever built. In its place is the more ‘planet friendly’ V8 hybrid, which pumps out more horsepower and torque than its predecessor, at a cost of only 29g/km of CO2. 

Planning for the underwater run took some 13 months, according to Bentley, as they had to prepare the car for the attempt. The physics of the car at Vmax (otherwise known as ‘top speed’) as it went through 10-metre-wide tube were modelled on a computer, and revealed a whole host of potential problems, as you imagine it would, as shooting things very quickly through tubes has been causing issues since Victorian times. 

Those problems were solved, and at 1am on April 18, Mark Higgins climbed into the customised GT Speed and hoofed it (technical term) through the Ryfylke Tunnel, accelerating from 0-208mph in 33 seconds. Job done. Into the record books. Maybe.