After having its world record for fastest production car thrown into question by a competitor and put under review by Guinness, Bugatti is back on top. Its record set back in 2010 is official all over again after a reconfirmation by Guinness.
Guinness put the issue to bed on Friday:
"Following a thorough review conducted with a number of external experts, Guinness World Records is pleased to announce the confirmation of Bugatti’s record of Fastest production car achieved by the Veyron 16.4 Super Sport.
The focus of the review was with respect to what may constitute a modification to a car’s standard specification.
Having evaluated all the necessary information, Guinness World Records is now satisfied that a change to the speed limiter does not alter the fundamental design of the car or its engine."
The world record in question is a 267.8 mph (431.072 km/h) mark that Pierre Henri Raphanel set in the 1,183-hp Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport in July 2010. Despite several "paper threats" from the likes of Koenigsegg and Hennessey, Bugatti has held that record ever since.
Well, for the vast majority of "ever since."
If you follow production car speed records, it's been a confusing month. At the beginning of April, Texas tuner Hennessey sent out a press release about a world speed record it had set. However, at 265.7 mph (427.6 km/h), Hennessey's record was 2 mph (3.2 km/h) short of Bugatti's 2010 effort. Folks were left scratching their heads until they got to the second paragraph, a quote from company founder John Hennessey calling Bugatti's record into question.
"While a Veyron Super Sport did run 267.8 mph, Bugatti speed-limits its production vehicles to 258 mph,” Hennessey's quote read. "Thus, at 265.7 mph the Venom GT is the fastest hypercar available to the public."
It seemed like a moot distinction, since everyone that knows the Veyron knows that the production Super Sport is speed-limited to 258 mph (415.2 km/h). That should include Guinness, since the fact was known back in July 2010, too. But Hennessey's statement was enough to give Guinness pause.
In fact, Guinness reportedly stripped Bugatti of its title, and on April 5, The Sunday Times quoted PR director Jaime Strang as stating: “It has come to the attention of Guinness World Records that there was an oversight in its adjudication of the ‘Fastest production car’, which was set in 2010 by the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport. As the car’s speed limiter was deactivated, this modification was against the official guidelines. Consequently, the vehicle’s record set at 431.072 km/h is no longer valid."
Guinness' real oversight in the matter appears to be telling the media that the Bugatti record was invalid before it had officially made up its mind. A message on its website from Wednesday, April 10 read: "With reference to the record for the ‘Fastest production car’ which was awarded to the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport in 2010, Guinness World Records would like to confirm that Bugatti's record has not been disqualified; the record category is currently under review."
Whatever exactly Guinness did over the past week, the record is right back where it was in July of 2010: in Bugatti's hands. And Hennessey still has its press release about how it is rightfully the (uncertified) fastest production car that people can buy. Everyone should be happy.
We weren't quite happy. We were curious why Hennessey made the point to begin with, being that the Venom GT time didn't qualify for an official record anyway and Bugatti's record was overseen and confirmed by Guinness in 2010. All pointing out the speed limiter really did was create some semantic confusion and incite what proved to be a dead-end review. Had Bugatti actually been stripped of the record, it would have reverted back to the SSC Ultimate Aero, not the Hennessey Venom GT. What was the point?
We reached out to John for clarification, and he was eager to set the record straight, responding to our email within about 20 minutes.
"The Venom GT's unlimited speed of 265.7 mph is faster than the speed limited 258 mph Bugatti Veyron (all Veyron SS models sold to the public are speed limited to 258 mph)," Hennessey wrote. "When we set our Guinness world record for fastest car from 0-300 km/h (13.63 seconds) we didn't limit the speed of our car to 265 km/h. Our Guinness world record setting performance is available to all of our current and future Venom GT owners. If Bugatti chooses to limit the performance of their cars, then so be it."
"We never disputed the Veyron Super Sport's 267.8 mph Guinness world record. Nor did we contact Guinness to protest it."
In other words, it was a (successful) publicity stunt to draw distinction between the $1 million Venom GT and the $2.5 million Veyron Super Sport. It didn't really have anything to do with records, and maybe the image of Hennessey's untamed, non-limited track performance will sway a few Bugatti would-bees. That puts a bit of egg on Guinness' face for taking the bait and second-guessing itself.
Bugatti has the record back today, but it may not be keeping it for long. Hennessey says that the Venom GT is capable of 275 mph (442.6 km/h) if given a longer track to accelerate on. The 2.9-mile (4.7-km) United States Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore run where it made the 265.7 mph time wasn't long enough for the Venom to reach its full potential, according to the company.
"We look forward to testing our Venom GT again at some point in the near future, on a road long enough to allow us to fully demonstrate our top speed," John Hennessey teased.
In briefly "accepting" the default world record, SSC also mentioned taking a poke at several world records with its new car, the Tuatara. And Bugatti is rumored to be working on a 1,600-hp "Super Veyron" capable of up to 288 mph (463.5 km/h). So it looks like the future record will be in tight contention. Hopefully it all plays out on the track, not in the press.