LONDON-Engineers working on the new British challenge to the land speed record will spend the weekend chasing down a sensor issue on their Bloodhound car. The arrow-shaped racer was targeting 550mph (885km/h) on Friday’s latest run across the Kalahari Desert, but driver Andy Green was forced to lift off the throttle early. He’d received a cockpit warning that Bloodhound’s engine bay might be overheating.

The top speed was 481mph (774km/h). That’s a little slower than the 501mph (806km/h) reached on Wednesday.

The “firewire” system had tripped on that occasion too, but it had occurred at the end of the run - not, as on Friday, at the fastest point along the 16km track.

Stuart Edmondson, Bloodhound’s head of engineering operations, said the problem could be like the “dodgy indicator” in a family saloon; the light comes on for no good reason. But in a land speed record car, such sensors can’t be ignored. “We can’t keep losing runs because of this kind of thing, so we just have to bite the bullet and do a full examination of everything to do with that indication system,” he told BBC News. This means taking the fin off Bloodhound, opening its upper chassis and removing the car’s Eurofighter-Typhoon jet engine. The engineers can then take a close look at the sensor, which is essentially two parallel wires running though a plastic sheath. This wiring criss-crosses the engine bay.

When it gets too hot, the plastic melts and the two wires touch, triggering an alarm. It may simply be that a section of wiring has degraded or been crushed somehow.

If engineers can identify the cause and fix it in a timely fashion then it’s possible Bloodhound could be back out on its dry lakebed track on Monday morning. Although it’s disappointing and frustrating not to see this six-tonne car go faster yet again, there’s an acceptance in the team that they’re on a learning curve.

Bloodhound is a one-of-a-kind - a prototype; and part of the road to a new world record above 763mph (1,228km/h) involves getting to know and understand all the car’s quirks. Only then will the team be able to achieve the slick and repetitive operations needed to reach the very highest speeds.

Blub- We can’t keep losing runs because of this kind of thing