For those of us who have spent time on a race track, hitting top speeds of 250 km/h or 155 mph can feel like you are about to take off into outer space. It is very hard to imagine how fast life would be coming at us when travelling at a speed of 304.77mph or 490.48 kp/h. But that is what professional race car driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Andy Wallace had to contend with as he drive the Bugatti Chiron on his world record run.
“I think most people have been 150 mph sometime during their life,” said Andy Wallace, Bugatti test driver. “If you then add just another 30 to make it 180, that’s a whole different world. Then when you get to 200, it’s a lot faster than 180. So when you’re talking about 300, it’s a massive, massive step.”
“At that kind of speed, normally airplanes are flying in the air,” said Stefan Ellrott, Bugattis Head of Development. “You have to make sure the car will stay on the ground.”
This pre-production Bugatti Chiron derivative is the first hypercar to break the elusive 300 mph barrier (482.80 km/h) and set a new TÜV-certified speed record of 304.773 mph or 490.484 km/h on August 2, 2019 at the Ehra-Lessien test track in Germany.
“It’s inconceivable that a car would be capable of this,” said Wallace who worked his way up to the top speed from 300 km/h in 50 km/h increments. “But the Chiron was well prepared and I felt very safe – even in these high speed ranges. 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.”
Andy Wallace accelerated out of the north curve to 200 km/h to reach top speed on the 8.8 kilometer straight. At a precisely defined braking point, he decelerated the Chiron back to 200 km/h to drive through the south bend. He had a distance of two kilometres in which to do so. “I went at full throttle from the start for approximately 70 seconds. It was important for me to be out of the bend at 200 km/h in order to reach top speed on the straight. That required the very highest level of concentration,” says the new record-holder. He covered 136 metres in one second.