On 21 October, the throaty roar of 2,500 horsepower supercar will fill the air of Ras Al-Khaimah, the emirate just an hour’s drive up the coast from Dubai. High specification performance cars are, of course, nothing new to this part of the world. But Keating Supercars’ latest model, The Bolt, will undoubtedly turn heads. Very quickly. Because its maker, Dr Antony Keating, is hoping to set a new land speed record for a production road car. He’s aiming for a staggering 333mph.
To put that in some kind of context, the current record was held, until recently, by a Bugatti Veyron at “just” 267.8mph - until it was stripped of the title on a technicality. If the roads between the two emirates were empty, and straight, it would take The Bolt just 12 minutes to cover the 60 miles to the centre of Dubai.
And it’s not by chance that the attempt will be made in the UAE. Emblazoned on the bodywork of The Bolt will be the logo of a little heard-of company by the name of FibrLec - a new sustainable energy enterprise aiming to commercialise the pioneering work on smart materials taking place at the University of Bolton.
The university based in the UK has a campus at Ras Al-Khaimah, and the intention is to use future profits to support scholarships and bursaries for students. It also assisted on some automotive aspects of The Bolt in order to put their engineering and manufacturing departments on the map.
Keating is behind the car and is the Technical Director of FibrLec. And while the world record bid is undoubtedly exciting, it’s the potential of FibrLec which really enthuses him.
“At the moment, we’ve got the material on trial in an airport,” he says. “The fibres are woven into the carpet, and every time someone walks on it, it creates an electric current which is harvested and used as an energy source. We can basically harness anything that moves in this way - if you put a flag made of this material on every lamp-post in the UK, for example, it could provide the same energy as a nuclear power station.”
And one of the most interesting applications for the material is its capability to convert energy from sunlight. No need for expensive panels - it can simply be rolled out onto buildings, cut as necessary, and connected up. “We completely understand how the solar element of FibrLec could be important to people in UAE, so we’re going to do some more research and development on that at the Ras Al-Khaimah campus, too,” says Keating.
And if it all sounds too good to be true, even Keating admits that the first time he saw the material he likens to Lycra, he was “as disbelieving as anyone else”.
“But I am an engineer, and it really does work,” he smiles. “This stuff could honestly revolutionise our world.”
As head-turning, possibly, as Keating’s 333mph supercar.