When Andy Wallace, former winner of the Le Mans 24hrs race for Jaguar and a racing driver of some repute, reached a speed of 243mph (391km/h) driving a McLaren F1 at the Ehra-Lessien test track – the VW Group’s private test facility – in 1998, the McLaren grabbed the title of ‘World’s Fastest Production Car’ in some style. Indeed, Wallace declared at the time that the F1 was ‘the best car in the world’ and that his record would ‘probably never be beaten’.
How wrong he was. As official Bugatti Test Driver, it was Wallace himself who took the wheel of a modified and prepared Bugatti Chiron – successor to the mighty Veyron which had in turn taken the record from the McLaren – to attack the daunting test track, which includes a mighty straight of a little under 5.5miles (8.8km), in a record attempt that had been carefully planned,
Wallace, a perfectionist and highly-experienced at high-speed runs, wound the car up in 50km/h increments before letting all the horses loose, and reaching an officially times top speed of 304.773mph (490.484km/h). You read that right: more than 300mph. The Bugatti Chiron is now, officially, the fastest production car of all time.
Wallace said of the occasion: “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.” We didn’t read of him saying it will never be beaten.
The Bugatti team were aided in their record attempt by personnel from Dallara, the Italian racing car manufacturer, and the tyre manufacturer Michelin, both of whom provided expert help in making sure the Chiron was ready for the attempt. Stephan Winkelman, Bugatti President, explained:
“Bugatti has once again shown what it’s capable of. With this new record of the Chiron we enter again uncharted territory. Never before has a series manufacturer reached this high speed. Our goal was to be the first manufacturer ever to reach the magic 300-mile-per-hour mark. We have now achieved this – making ourselves, the entire team and myself, incredibly proud.”
Keen to stress that Bugatti is about more than just speed, he added:
“This world record once again shows that Bugatti still builds the fastest cars in the world. But our hyper sports cars are capable of more. They offer absolute exclusivity, luxury, unmatched beauty and a high level of automotive craftsmanship. The Bugatti is the only hyper sports car that combines all of these characteristics in one vehicle. We will concentrate even more on this in the future in the context of further exciting projects.”
Bugatti was founded 110 years ago, with the intention of building cars that pushed the boundaries of technology. Today, it is still leading the way in that area, and we believe will continue to do so.
Images Copyright of: Bugatti