LONDON-“We’re 99% sure this car is capable of a land speed record that begins with the number 8.”

Mark Chapman, chief engineer on the Bloodhound car, is reflecting on the vehicle’s high-speed trials this past November.

The arrow-shaped racer reached a top speed of 628mph (1,010km/h) on the mudbed of Hakskeen Pan, South Africa, before packing up to head home to England.

The team is now engaged in a review of all the data gathered during testing - from the roughly 200 air-pressure sensors dotted around the car, plus a multitude of strain gauges, temperature readers and accelerometers.

“We’ve only been looking at it for a couple of weeks, but there’s nothing I’ve seen that says Bloodhound can’t do 800mph (1,290km/h),” says Chapman.

The current world best, which has stood for more than 20 years, is 763mph (1,228km/h). You can see how the trials progressed in an exclusive film to be broadcast this weekend on the BBC News Channel and BBC World.

Getting the job done at over 600mph The team now has a great volume of data with which to plan the next phase. What should be telling is how, overall, the trials were conducted without any major incidents.

The team could be forgiven for anticipating a stream of technical glitches when it arrived in the Kalahari Desert. It certainly had some.

But the schedule of runs designed to achieve a steady, stepwise increase in speed broadly held together.

And only once did engineers have to perform a full strip-down of the vehicle to overhaul a problematic engine bay over-heat alarm system.

The length of track this year allowed the car to get up to 628mph and then slow and stop safely

“It was a high-stakes gamble to be honest in taking Bloodhound out there, but I wanted to prove that this car and this team could do it,” says businessman Ian Warhurst, who bought Bloodhound out of administration at the beginning of 2019.

“We could have gone out there and been unable to run the car properly, and we’d have returned home with no following and been forced to close the project down. But it was fantastic and the engagement we saw was amazing.”

An engine bay overheat alarm eventually required a stripdown of the vehicle

There’s a lot of work ahead, however. First, Bloodhound needs sponsorship. Warhurst’s calculation is that £8m is required to break the land speed record.

The Yorkshireman says his conversations with interested parties have been boosted by the successful trials. The money will cover operations but also the R&D to enable Bloodhound to carry a rocket.