Andy Wallace sets speed record in “near production-spec” Chiron at German test track
2 September 2019

Bugatti’s decision to introduce the Chiron with a 261mph speed limiter left the question of what it was truly capable of. Now the company has revealed the spectacular answer, with a slightly modified car smashing both the production car speed record and the 300mph barrier.

British sportscar veteran, Le Mans winner and official Bugatti tester, Andy Wallace drove to an astounding 304.773mph at the VW Group’s secretive Ehra-Lessien test track in Germany.

The Chiron’s “near production” spec included an additional safety cell, aerodynamic changes and a taller seventh gear, as well as a 1578bhp version of Bugatti’s quad-turbocharged 8-litre W16 engine taken from up from the 1479bhp of the ‘standard’ car. Autocar believes that the mechanical changes will be incorporated into a celebratory limited-edition model. 

Exceeding 300mph also relied on specially constructed Michelin Pilot Cup 2 tyres designed to handle the enormous forces of such speeds; at the record velocity each was turning 4100 times a minute. Each tyre was X-rayed before it was selected for use to ensure that none of the radial bands was touching each other; while this doesn’t matter at even the Chiron’s normal governed speed, it could have created heat.

Wallace also admitted that the enormous gyroscopic effect of wheels rotating so quickly became a challenge at ultra-high speeds. “At 200mph you can barely feel it, but at 300mph it’s absolutely enormous,” he told Autocar after the run, “it’s felt mostly on the front wheels and therefore the steering, like a spinning top when it starts to move it wants to continue to move.” 

Dallara had designed the aerodynamic kit for the record-run – the Italian motorsport specialist builds the Chiron’s body – but there was no way to test simulation projections before the car was on track as speeds were too high for a wind tunnel. The aim was for neutral downforce, but that still meant huge forces running through the car’s structure. “Net zero downforce front and rear sounds easy, as you’ve got the static weight of the car pushing down and that’s more than heavy enough.

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"But it doesn’t mean the air is having no effect, there’s close to 2000kg on the top surface of the body trying to pick the car off the ground and another 2000kg under the car trying to pull it back down – two fighting forces that come to four tonnes roughly… So you’ve got to be absolutely sure that everything on the car is secure enough to go this fast.” 

At higher speeds Wallace also discovered that a recently resurfaced part of the 8.8km long straight at Ehra-Lessian was unsettling the car. “You’d barely notice in a normal car, but at those speeds it felt huge,” he said, the transition soon being known by the engineering team as ‘the jump.’

After four days at Ehra-Lessien the Chiron had managed a peak speed of 482.5km/h – 299.8mph, tantalizingly close to the 300mph barrier – but Wallace was struggling to go quicker. Then, on the record-setting lap, he felt confident enough over ‘the jump’ to push harder: “after it landed and had a bit of a weave about I thought it was the best it’s been, the cross wind was a little bit less and I just kept it pinned.”

Wallace saw a peak of 490km/h on the car’s GPS display so knew he had set a record, but the live telemetry had been unable to keep up and had showed a maximum of 479km/h. For several minutes as the car returned to the pit area the crew were unaware that the Chiron had broken the 300mph barrier. “They couldn’t work out why I was so happy on the radio,” Wallace admits. The Chiron’s on-board data recorder then confirmed the record time.

But Bugatti intends to leave it there, president Stefan Winkelmann saying that the company’s quest for ultimate speed is satisfied. “We have shown several times that we built the fastest cars in the world. In future we will focus on other areas,” he said in the official release, “Bugatti was the first to exceed 300mph – it’s name will go down in the history books and it will stay that way forever.” 

For Wallace, this is the third time he has driven a car to the production car record, having previously done so with both the McLaren F1 and Jaguar XJ220. “It’s pretty bloody cool,” he told Autocar, “if somebody said to me even two years ago that I was going to go over 300mph I’d have thought they were out of their mind.”

Read more:

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Comments
34

2 September 2019
This is an impressive achievement and throws the gauntlet back to Koenigsegg and the Jesko

I would question how near production this car is - a new aero kit and an extra 100hp or so - if the standard chiron or chiron sport cannot achieve this speed as they are out of the factory then surely the record can't apply in this instance also they plan a same spec limited edition car which is limited not a series production model

They should apply the learning to the models being built - when the Jesko runs for the record it will not I'm sure have these extras

Phewitt21

3 September 2019

As a 'one in the eye for the naysayers', Ferdinand Piech, the man who more than anyone made the new Bugatti possible, has his 500 km/h memorial for all time.

2 September 2019

When they want to. This is one of the most secretive records I have ever witnessed. The fans of Koenigsegg wont like it one bit! You can't beat being first to break a record and anyone that comes after, never has the same impact.

Daz

2 September 2019

 There, that’s the 300mph barrier done,and as Winklemann said, there’s no need to go faster now,instead they are going to make better cars, I assume that’ll be more luxurious and so on...?

Peter Cavellini.

2 September 2019

Sounds to me like they realised that they didn't quite have enough ooomph to get above 300 and so threw in an extra 100bhp to get them over the line. Phenomenal numbers. 

 

 

You're not stuck in traffic - you are traffic!!

2 September 2019

That's QUICK!!!  Let's hope they release a model with these exact modificatioons so it is a true production vehicle record.

AWESOME stuff.

2 September 2019
To go over 300mph, not only requires a property engineered vehicle capable of doing it, but also a driver of supreme skill and experience, not to mention cojonas of steel. Hats off to Bugatti and Mr Wallace.

2 September 2019

As we approach our mass extinction, as crops fail and starvation grips continents; as sea levels rise and the ice melts;  as Category 5 hurricanes become more common, with winds in excess of 185 mph and with gusts up to 220 mph; as British summer temperatures approach 40 degrees centigrade, I really don't think a 304mph car is relevant.  In fact, it's actually really rather sick.

2 September 2019

Here you go; https://www.nextgreencar.com/

This is an amazing achievement and from a car enthusiasts point of view, very exciting.

I do hope they build some road cars capable of this, the bragging rights would be massive!

 

2 September 2019
pauld101 wrote:

As we approach our mass extinction, as crops fail and starvation grips continents; as sea levels rise and the ice melts;  as Category 5 hurricanes become more common, with winds in excess of 185 mph and with gusts up to 220 mph; as British summer temperatures approach 40 degrees centigrade, I really don't think a 304mph car is relevant.  In fact, it's actually really rather sick.

Sorry, but it's you. 

I'm an environmental scientist.  I will never forgive VW for being a shit company that doesn't care about poisoning the planet for the sake of profits.  But 300 MPH is really cool.

 

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