THE Bugatti Chiron’s top speed has been limited to 410km/h because there are no tyres available to handle the power of the French beast’s 1100kW.
Bugatti is one of a growing number of hypercars capable of warp speeds — think Koenigsegg Agera, the Devel Sixteen, the Venom from Texan tuner Hennessey, Croatia’s Rimac Automobili and a few others.
Dubai-based Devel Motors says its Sixteen can run to better than 500km/h, but it like Bugatti needs the right rubber to keep it on Mother Earth.
Enter Michelin, which already supplies the rubber for Bugatti and Koenigsegg.
The French brand is working on building tyres capable of handling such speed and downforce, and product manager Eric Schmedding describes the project as “a big game, with fierce competition, and it’s very fast-moving”.
To set a new record for a production car, the tyres must be able to withstand the insane speeds for minutes at a time, because an official record can only be recognised after measuring the speeds of repeated runs on a set course.
It looks to be just a matter of time, since Monsieur Schmedding says “we are knocking on the door of 300 mph.” (480km/h)
Whether Bugatti will pursue that speed is not clear, since Stefan Winkelmann, its new CEO, seems to have put the brand’s earlier plans for a record attempt on the backburner.
“I have a lot on my plate,” he told a US news agency.
“The speed test is not my priority and Chiron aren’t even interested in the car’s potential top speed.
“I know this for sure, and I don’t even know how fast our car can go.”
Well, we wonder why anyone would buy a Chiron — or a Koenigsegg, Devel, Venom or Rimac — if they aren’t speed freaks.
Pretty soon, Michelin may provide them with the tyres they need to set a record. Or earn them wide-eyed respect among others of their kind.