As if breaking the 300 miles-per-hour barrier in a pre-production road car wasn’t cool enough, Bugatti test driver Andy Wallace recently revealed that the Chiron he drove to 304.773 mph actually caught air on its way to the record-breaking figure.
Speaking to Australia’s Wheels, he claimed that a small imperfection on the road surface at the Ehra-Lessien test facility basically created a “ramp” that he had to deal with during his record-setting run.
“There is a surface change on the straight just before the end, and I was calling it a ramp and jump, and everyone was wondering why I was calling it that,” Wallace told Wheels. “That was until they looked at the data, and they realized that it actually is a jump. This occured at 277MPH-445KM/H on that fast run. It goes from a nice smooth surface, to an older surface. It felt to me inside the cabin that it was all coming off the ground and then coming down.”
Wallace goes on to say that while he knew the jump was coming, there really isn’t anything he could do to prepare or account for it other than keeping his right foot firmly planted on the floor and hope for the best.
“You know that surface change is there, and after you have fired yourself off the banking, and the numbers are coming up, you kind of brace yourself for going over this jump,” the Le Mans winner explained. “You can’t lift though”.
In fact, lifting makes this much worse, because then you get a pitch change at the front and it gives you a whole heap of trouble. You are far better off staying flat, which means there is not much you can do about it, you just go with it and hope it is alright.”
Blink and you’ll miss it, but the Bugatti does indeed register a tiny hop the moment it passes 277, as seen in the onboard footage below. It might not look all that spectacular compared to a stunt Evel Knievel might have concocted, but having all four wheels leave the ground while approaching 300 mph for any amount of time surely requires nerves of steel.
Despite this, Wallace nonchalantly added that “the Chiron has always been really good when I have been on the road and gone over something where I have left the ground,” in the same tone that a normal person might remark to a friend about how well-behaved their dog is around strangers.
Yeah, the Chiron’s always been good at jumps. NBD.
“It always comes down really square down on four wheels, it never does this pitching back and forth. Just up then down, which is quite useful in this case.” Notably, Wallace was the same driver who took the McLaren F1 to a then record-breaking 240 mph on the same circuit in back in 1998.
After announcing its new top speed record, Bugatti later said the pre-production Chiron Super Sport could’ve gone 15 mph faster if the run was held in Nevada rather than Germany and unveiled an official production version of the car called the Chiron Super Sport 300+. At $5.19 million each, it’s unlikely many of its owners will be clamoring to take their cars off any sweet jumps anytime soon.