Here’s what John Hennessey had to say about the Bugatti Chiron’s 300-mph speed record.
There was a time when Bugatti, Hennessey, and Koenigsegg were all competing to break the production car 300-mph barrier first. Bugatti's CEO has previously said that chasing speed records is not a priority for the automaker. Yet the French carmaker beat its competitors as a modified Chiron hit a staggering speed of 304.77 mph at Ehra-Lessien test track in Germany, setting a new world record.
Potentially, it could have gone even faster if the record attempt was carried out in Nevada where the Koenigsegg Agera RS broke several records. John Hennessey initially responded by congratulating Bugatti, but it turns out he has a few issues with Bugatti's 300-mph speed record.
"I was in Arizona when I heard the news of Bugatti's 300 mph run," Hennessey told Top Gear. "I've been waiting for Bugatti to run a big number and I'm impressed with the speed. I thought there was a chance that the guys from Wolfsburg / Molsheim might try something like this, but felt that it probably would not happen until 2020. However, I'm surprised Bugatti did not run both directions."
That's because Bugatti's run was verified by Germany's Technical Inspection Association instead of Guinness, which requires speed record attempts to be done in both directions and uses an average speed.
Hennessey was also skeptical about the powertrain that was used. Compared to the standard 1,479 hp Chiron, the one-off hypercar's 8.0-liter quad-turbo W16 was tuned to produce 1,578 hp. "I'm really intrigued by how much horsepower Bugatti's engine was really making on the run," he said.
"To run 40+ mph faster than the Chiron Sport that TG tested on the same track would take a lot more than a 100 bhp bump, lowered suspension and some rear aero adjustments. We're guessing that their one-off Chiron was pushing closer to 2,000bhp. Saying that, I am most impressed by Michelin. How that team was able to validate a tire capable of 300+ mph is great. We knew that their tires were capable of this and Bugatti helped them prove it."
Has Bugatti's achievement deterred Hennessey from chasing the top speed record? Not at all. After all, the 300+ mph record in both directions is still up for grabs. "This news changes nothing for us," Hennessey asserts. "I believe that the race to a production series 300 mph (with a two-way average speed) road car is still on and that this title remains up for grabs."
Hennessey also believes the Venom F5 will have a few key advantages over the Chiron. Not only is it more powerful than the record-breaking Chiron but it's also lighter, so it could potentially beat the Chiron's record. "We can beat it and have a couple of highways in the USA where we think we would have enough room to hit our absolute top speed, but we would prefer to do this in Texas if possible."