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Bolide beyond limits

Redefining the performance experience with the track-only Bugatti Bolide.


Photography by © John Wycherley for Top Gear

02 May 2024

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The Bolide, a testament to engineering excellence, stands at the pinnacle of track-oriented performance. Born from Bugatti’s extensive automotive and motorsport lineage, the track-only hyper sports car exemplifies the spirit of the extreme and pushes the limits of what’s possible on the racetrack.

Designed with precision and purpose, the Bolide represents a departure from the norm, a shift towards a completely different realm of driving that Bugatti had not yet explored in its modern-day history. Not just focused on speed, each and every aspect is finely tuned for circuit dominance.

Yet, the Bolide isn’t just about blistering lap times, it is also about accessibility. Despite its extraordinary performance capabilities, the Bolide remains approachable – even for those without race experience. In the pursuit of perfection, Bugatti’s engineers have crafted a track-only hyper sports car that invites drivers to explore their limits.

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To achieve this, Bugatti lent on state-of-the-art technology, its unrivalled motorsport heritage and direction from Bugatti Pilote Officiel and legendary Triple Crown winner, Andy Wallace.

His input, garnered from years of racing at the highest levels as well as involvement with the Molsheim brand since 2011, proved invaluable to Bugatti’s engineering team as they refined the Bolide’s aerodynamics, drivetrain, and handling characteristics.

Bugatti Pilote Officiel, Andy Wallace, said: “Everything about the car is on a completely different level to what I have driven before. All cars are difficult to drive at their limit, but even at the limits of its capabilities, the Bugatti Bolide remains remarkably easy to drive.

“When you have a car with this much capability, and this much downforce, not many people would believe that is possible. Even I found myself in a state of disbelief after my initial stint driving the Bolide.”

Key to the Bolide’s behavior on track are several technologies deployed for the first time in a Bugatti vehicle as well as technologies that are usually not available in a track car, like ABS and ESP.

Built as closely as possible around the brand’s legendary 1,600 PS 8.0-liter W16 turbocharged engine, the Bolide features an ultra-lightweight advanced monocoque of the highest quality carbon fibre composite. Developed in collaboration with Dallara, this innovative structure is designed to the same demanding Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) LMH and LMDh requirements as Le Mans race cars.

An entirely new seating position for Bugatti – one that is reclined into the rear of the car ensuring that the heels of the driver sit slightly raised and the passenger is optimally angled towards the nose of the Bolide – also mirrors design from some of the world’s most extreme race cars. This imparts unwavering confidence on the asphalt.

This confidence also fed into in part by the unique Brembo braking system in the Bolide. The result of two years of demanding evaluation, the carbon-carbon brakes offer stopping power that is on par with the technology that goes into both LMh/LMDh and Formula 1 machinery. Guaranteeing that the Bolide stands unrivalled on every part of the track.

Extensive simulation and testing on some of the world’s most revered racetracks allowed Bugatti to elevate the performance further, tuning the Bolide’s aerodynamic traits in a way that is usually only associated with top level motorsport.

The resultant downforce it generates, in combination with all-wheel drive with electronically controlled differentials and high-performance Michelin Pilot Sport slick tires, means that the Bolide delivers unmatched levels of traction and grip on the track.

The considerable effort put into the Bolide development program paid off. Boasting a top speed of 380km/h in low-downforce configuration, the Bugatti track-only hyper sports car demonstrates aptitude on the straights exceeding that of Formula 1, where the all-time speed record hit close to 373km/h. For Bolide, the only boundary is finding at straight long enough to reach 380km/h, with straights on FIA approved tracks unable to exceed 2 km in length, with only a handful exceptions worldwide. Despite the impressive top speed, elasticity is where the Bolide truly shines.

Wallace added: “The feeling when you come out of a corner, press the throttle, and experience that relentless surge of power is incomparable.

“You come out of that corner at 100 km/h, and from there to 200 km/h and then 300 km/h is an absolute revelation. In that specific scenario, the Bolide would pull away from a Formula 1 car.”

However, given that track performance is not defined by top speed, engineering focus from Bugatti prioritised cornering, traction, and braking over outright top speed, ensuring it perfectly suited to circuit driving. The Bolide can navigate through corners with complete precision. Its advanced aerodynamics working to generate up to three tons of downforce, and its wide track and low centre of gravity creating exceptional grip capabilities with lateral forces peaking at 2.5 G. In essence, the Bolide is a master in the art of the track.

As Bugatti’s most extreme creation to date, the Bolide represents a bold new approach to hyper sports car for the marque. All aspects of the car have been designed, developed, and tested to produce the greatest possible track performance whilst guaranteeing the pilot an incomparable experience. In true Bugatti fashion, the Bolide’s interior exudes quality. Air conditioning, power steering and ergonomically designed seats make sure that every lap is just as comfortable as it is memorable.

Emilio Scervo, CTO of Bugatti Rimac, commented: “Development of the Bolide was a fresh but familiar direction for the brand. It’s racing DNA not only demonstrates our unwavering commitment and capabilities in top tier automotiveperformance, but it also resonates deeply with our legacy in motorsport competition. The results of this project are evidence of our engineering prowess, craftsmanship and racing heritage – a result we are extremely proud of.”

With the test phase of the Bugatti Bolide officially concluded, the Molsheim team has now shifted focus to series production. Delivery of the first customer car is expected to take place in just a few months.

 

bugatti.com

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