In a word, scary – even in a car as stable and as well developed as a Bugatti Veyron Supersport. And that’s straight from the bloke who maxed the car at VW’s Ehra-Lessien test track in Germany just a few weeks ago.
Talking to Pierre-Henri Raphanel, who drove the car to its world record breaking top speed of 268mph, I asked if he was at all nervous before doing the official timed run.
He said he didn’t sleep for two days before the big day. Why? Because during the various test runs he’d done leading up to main event, the car had felt fine up to 420kph (260mph) but then, for some weird reason that no one at Bugatti could fathom, it started to develop a mind of its own beyond 260mph. It started to wander left, basically, and there wasn’t a lot Raphanel could do about it other than hang on and hope.
“The car was absolutely perfect up to 420kph” he says. “But after that it did start to become quite difficult. And when we ran the car in the opposite direction – because to achieve the world record you have to run in two directions – the characteristics of the track surface was different. Again that made the car behave in a new way, and not a very nice way, beyond 420kph.”