Bugatti claims it is the first supercar manufacturer to hit 300 mph. The French supercar-maker has taken a modified Chiron to 304.7 mph at VW’s Ehra-Lessien test track.

The speed was achieved on Ehra-Lessien’s 8.8 km (5.4 mile) straight in a long-tail version of the Chiron on specially designed, but street-legal tires. It is not clear whether or not Bugatti will sell a long-tail version of the Chiron.

The car was driven by Andy Wallace, who previously reached 243 mph in the McLaren F1 at the same track.

“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,” said Wallace. “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.”

Although Bugatti is celebrating this achievement—and indeed has retired from setting high-speed records—the internet was quick to point out that this does not live up to the widely accepted two-runs-in-opposite-directions standard for high-speed records. Top Gear reports that this was as a result of the tarmac at Ehra-Lessien.

After years of having cars run in one direction at the test track, the tarmac structure has apparently rolled in that particular direction. The problem is that running in the opposite direction would mean running “against the grain,” as Top Gear puts it , causing additional stress on the tires, which are already turning at 4,100 RPM and subjecting the belts within the tire to 5,300 Gs.

To ensure the test was completed as safely as possible, the tires were x-rayed before the run to make sure there were no flaws. Wallace was also cocooned in a safety cell and held in place by a 6-point harness.
In a separate article from Top Gear published this week , the publication’s editor-in-chief, Charlie Turner, explains what going 261 mph at Ehra-Lessien in a standard Chiron is like. In it, he describes being told not to try and catch the car if he loses the back end.

“If anything goes wrong, anything, do not try to catch the car, just brake as hard as you can – immediately – and you should stay between the barriers,” he is told by Ehra-Lessien’s head of training, Michal Kutina. “Those who take this advice do OK. The guy who didn’t ended up in the hospital and the car split in two. When I went to see him to analyze what had happened, he said he thought he could catch it.”

But apart from the safety modifications, only the Chiron’s aerodynamics (that elongated tail section) were improved the 304 mph run, which was completed on August 2.

As alluded to above, with 300 mph under its belt, Bugatti has decided to stop trying to achieve top speed records.

“This world record once again shows that Bugatti still builds the fastest cars in the world,” said Bugatti’s president, Stephan Winkelmann. “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.”

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