Bugatti have broken the mythical 300-mile-per-hour barrier with a modified pre-production version of the Bugatti Chiron, proving once and for all that they build the fastest cars in the world.
Andy Wallace, Le Mans winner and Bugatti test driver, reached a top speed of 304.773 mph (490.484 km/h) at the Volkswagen Group’s test track at Ehra-Lessien in Lower Saxony on August 2nd, setting a new TÜV-certified speed record in the process.
Building up to the top speed in 50km/h increments from 300km/h, Wallace didn’t seem to be phased by the high speeds involved.
“An incredible speed. It’s inconceivable that a car would be capable of this. But the Chiron was well prepared and I felt very safe – even in these high-speed ranges,” said Wallace after setting the record.
“Even at the first attempt I felt this would work. The Chiron ran perfectly and the track and weather conditions were ideal. The whole team did a fantastic job.”
But The Car Isn’t Stock
Though the Chiron uses the same 8.0-litre, quad-turbo W16 engine from the standard model, the car was anything but stock.
Italian racing specialists, Dallara, played their part in improving the aerodynamics of the car; extending it by around 10 inches, lowering the ride height and removing the rear wing and airbrake to reduce drag.
Meanwhile, tyre manufacturers Michelin reinforced the standard Chiron tyres so they could cope with the 4,100 rotations per minute the record attempt required, testing the tyres to a staggering 511 km/h, and even making sure that each tyre was X-rayed to detect any potential issues.
“After all the calculations and tests, we felt sure the record was within our grasp” says Head of Development Stefan Ellrott.
“We had the technology under control at an early stage. But a world record attempt on an open track can have a few surprises in store. We were lucky today and everything went well.”
What’s Next for Bugatti?
Bugatti’s first production car, the Veyron, had a top speed of 253mph, and the Super Sport version earned the Guinness World Record for the fastest street-legal production car in the world in 2010 with a top speed of 267.856 mph (431.072 km/h).
With the Chiron now breaking into the 300mph range, it would seem that Bugatti are content with dominating the top speed records, but it seems that the company is planning something different for the future.
“Our goal was to be the first manufacturer ever to reach the magic 300-mile-per-hour mark,” says Stephan Winkelmann, President of Bugatti. “We have now achieved this – making ourselves, the entire team and myself, incredibly proud.”
“We have shown several times that we build the fastest cars in the world. In future we will focus on other areas,” says Winkelmann.
What those “other areas” might be is anyone’s guess, but with Bugatti’s history of pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, we’re sure it’s going to be something spectacular!