UPDATE 03/11/2020: The SSC Tuatara will return to the Nevada desert in an attempt to reaffirm its record-breaking credentials, according to the manufacturer’s CEO Jerod Shelby.
In a video posted to YouTube overnight, Mr Shelby conceded potential issues had been flagged by the manufacturer.
“The more we looked – and the more we tried to analyse [the data] – the more we were concerned there were doubts in the relationship between the video and the GPS,” he said.
“We have to rerun the record. We have to do this again, and do it in a way that’s undeniable and irrefutable,” he added.
Mr Shelby didn’t specify when this next run would take place, but noted “we’re preparing to do it in the very near future.”
Last week CarAdvice reported the SSC Tuatara had broken the production car land speed record in the Nevada desert with an average speed of 508.7km/h in two directions. Now, the legitimacy of that achievement has been cast into doubt.
Based on the known distance between set points along Nevada’s Highway 160 – and the amount of time it took for the car to reach them – high-profile YouTuber Shmee150 estimated the Tuatara’s peak speed was no higher than 450km/h.
What's more, when maxing out the revs at 8800rpm the sixth gear ratio of 0.784 should theoretically achieve a top speed no higher than 470km/h.
Analysis of the tachometer shows the car fell slightly short of the redline, which would be consistent with the 450km/h approximation.
While a long way off the claimed pace, this would still put it right up with the other record-breaking attempts – In 2017 the Koenigsegg Agera RS officially clocked 447.19km/h on the same strip of road.
A spokesperson for Dewetron – the data analysis firm which initially implied it had verified the run – told CarAdvice “part of our focus is on tracking and verifying hypercars that break world records.”
“Our equipment has done that for four out of five of the last world records. We’ve tested and verified that the TRION-VGPS-20/100-V3 equipment and the data that it produces is accurate per our specifications," they continued.
“With all the recently raised public scrutiny, we are even going through a post-evaluation equipment test to verify accuracy as well.”
However, a subsequent statement forwarded to journalists seemingly contradicted this: “Despite the information published on the website of SSC North America as well as on several related and non-related YouTube channels, Dewetron did not validate any data from world record attempts or preceding tests."
“Nobody of Dewetron’s employees was present during the test drive or involved in the associated preparations," the statement continued.
“Therefore, we again want to highlight that Dewetron neither approved nor validated any test results. No Dewetron employee was present during the record attempt or its preparations.”
This was followed by an official statement from SSC founder Jerod Shelby, who conceded “only after the fact did we realise that the depiction of the speed run, in video form, had been substantially incorrect.”
This admission proceeded an explanation for why the record was still legitimate, despite the footage showing a car travelling substantially slower than was claimed.
“The day the news broke, we thought there were two videos that had been released -- one from the cockpit, with data of the speed run overlaid, and another video of b-roll running footage. The cockpit video was shared with Top Gear, as well as on the SSC and Driven+ YouTube pages.
“Somehow, there was a mixup on the editing side, and I regret to admit that the SSC team hadn’t double checked the accuracy of the video before it was released. We also hadn’t realised that not one, but two different cockpit videos existed, and were shared with the world.”
A laptop sitting in the passenger seat of the car appears to show the same data as that projected on the screen, and driver Oliver Webb can be seen emphatically celebrating after the run. Both of these facts would seemingly contradict the manufacturer's claim that the released footage shows an earlier and slower test run.
Mr Webb did not reply when approached for comment by CarAdvice.
This story is still developing, and will be updated when more information becomes available.
What a full analysis below, and let us know what you think really happened in the comments.