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Shropshire university helps speed record

By Toby Neal | Newport | News | Published:

A British cyclist who set a new land speed cycling record was helped by Shropshire's Harper Adams University which provided "protection" for his effort.

Neil Campbell reached 174.3mph at Elvington Airfield in Yorkshire when he was towed behind a Porsche Cayenne before being released and beginning to pedal.

He was protected by an aerodynamic slipstreaming shelter designed by Harper Adams University lecturer and aerodynamics engineer, James Croxford.

Harper alumnus James also contributed state-of-the-art digital wind tunnel software that made Neil’s slipstreaming canopy possible.

James said: “We got some 3D models of the car from Porsche before developing different shaped shelters and running the whole thing through the virtual wind tunnel. It had to be small enough not to affect the top speed of the car but large enough to flick the air around the cyclist.”

Following a disappointing test run the day before the world record attempt, Neil let the team know that some changes were needed before they tried again, and so the shelter underwent some last minute redesigns under James’s watchful eye aided by simulation software. When the time came to attempt to break the world record, the wind was unpredictable but, after discussions with James, Neil and the team decided to go ahead.

James said: “The redesign, made possible by key software simulations, took the shelter from being unstable to being really effective. In fact, the faster Neil went the more stable it was.”

Neil and his crew are now targeting the all-time world record of 220mph in 2020 using the same bike.

Lecturer James is planning to hand some of his part in the race for 220mph to next year’s Harper Adams engineering students as a final year group project.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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