We recently joined French supercar manufacturer Bugatti at the Nurburgring 24 Hours race for a special feature! The Nurburgring 24 Hours race attracts over 170 teams and more than 200,000 spectators during the race weekend. This year Bugatti was invited to lead the 175 cars on the grid during the pre-race parade lap. The first car was a Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse World Record Car, the exact same car that set the record for fastest production convertible in the world at 408,84 km/h. The second one was a ‘normal’ 1200hp Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse.
The first Bugatti was driven by Bugatti CEO Wolfgang Durheimer, the second Bugatti was driven by Le Mans winner and current Bugatti test driver Andy Wallace. GTspirit had the honor to join Mr Durheimer in the lead car. Prior to the race and the parade lap we gathered in the paddock where the Bugattis were checked by race officials and a small briefing was held.
At exactly 2pm the gate opens and we are allowed to drive on to the main straight of the Nurburgring Grand Prix circuit. Thousands of people already eagerly awaiting the start of the race cheering us on from the grandstands and the pit wall. We park the Bugattis at the end of the main straight just before the Mercedes Arena. Behind us one by one the race cars drive to their position on the grid determined by qualifying.
As we eagerly await the start of the parade lap thousands of people flock to the grid to take a closer look at the race cars and the grid girls. An incredible sight that we will not quickly forget! The area in front of the grid, where we wait with the two Bugattis, is guarded off.
The day started cold and with some showers, but as the start of the race is coming closer and closer the sun comes out and temperatures reach very pleasant values. Out of nowhere a truck pulls up right next to the Bugatti Vitesse World Record Car and starts to unload what looks like a giant ramp. Next thing we know a van pulls up with a DJ booth on the top and we see where this is going: The Red Bull X-Fighters are in town and ready to show their skills!
The Red Bull X-Fighters perform one incredible stunt after the other and bring the crowds to ecstasy. After what feels like hundreds of jumps they disappear as quickly as they arrived.
Now it is time for us to get ready, helmet on, GoPro on and get in the car!
At the wheel of the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse WRC is CEO Wolfgang Durheimer, with his engineering background he did many laps of the Nurburgring-Nordschleife behind the wheel of various cars from Porsche, Bentley and Bugatti. And even today as Bugatti President he finds himself at the ‘Green Hell’ multiple times a year to drive the latest cars. As we head from the Grand Prix track to the legendary Nordschleife and the grand stands make way for tents and caravans the crowds along the fences thicken. Mr Durheimer visibly enjoys the parade lap and waves to the fans as we make drive through slower parts of the track.
Talking about fans, the Nurburgring 24 Hours race weekend is truly something you have to see with your own eyes. Thousands of people are camping all around the track and the normally quiet town of Nurburg is transformed to the epicenter of motorsports. Fans wave big flags of their favorite brands and wear t-shirts and gaps with the names of their favorite drivers and teams. Since we are in the first car the fans see on the ‘Ring for hours we are welcomed by applaus, cheering and the sound or horns as we blast around the 25.947 kilometers long circuit that is made up of the GP Circuit and the Nordschleife. The record for this circuit with 170 corners is set during this years 24 hours race at 8 minute 10 seconds by the McLaren 12C GT3 car.
The signature sound of the Veyrons quad-turbocharged engine accompanies us as we head towards the carrousel. This is without a doubt the most famous corner on the Nordschleife and features a concrete bank. Your spine feels the pressure as you are pressed in your seat. The exit often scrapes the underbody if the exit is not executed perfectly, but Mr Durheimer does well and the Veyron doesn’t scrape an inch.
As we head down towards Brünnchen the cockpit of the Bugatti is engulfed in BBQ smell. The entire parking place at the Brünnchen corner is transformed in a camping place with thousands of people drinking, eating, partying and watching the race of course.
The final part of the lap includes the long Nordschleife straight and this is where we can truly experience the Veyrons 1200hp in action. As Mr Durheimer puts his foot down we feel the G-forces push us in the seat. In the blink of an eye the car propels from 80 km/h to well over 150 km/h and it doesn’t take more than another 8 seconds or so to reach the 300 km/h mark. Having briefly touched 310 km/h he steps on the brakes. Under braking you can get pulled out of your seat while the air brake pops up to offer additional stopping power. Only later we realize our GoPro was strapped to the roof of the car going over 300 km/h – luckily it stayed exactly where it was and shows the strength of the modern mounts.
We return to the pit lane a great experience richer and thank Mr Durheimer for the opportunity. We quickly made our way to the lounge at the start/finish line to watch the start of the 24 Hours Race which is minutes away from starting. A very eventful first hour of the race with many accidents kept us on the point of our seat. Also have a look at our full race report of the 2014 Nurburgring 24 Hours race.
About Mr Wolfgang Durheimer
Mr Wolfgang Durheimer returned as CEO of Bentley and Bugatti on the 1st of June 2014. Mr Durheimer started his career in 1984 at BMW after finishing a engineering degree in Munich. In 1999 he changed from BMW to Porsche and in 2001 was appointed a Member of the Board for Research and Development at Porsche AG. The successful Porsche Cayenne, Panamera and 918 Spyder were developed under his supervision. In 2011 Mr Durheimer became CEO of Bentley and Bugatti for the first time until he moved to Audi in 2012. In 2014 he was appointed as CEO of Bentley and Bugatti again.
There are very exciting times ahead for Bugatti. Bugatti has only around 20 Veyrons remaining for sale out of a total production run of 450. When all Veyrons are sold it marks the start of a new era for the Moslheim-based hypercar manufacturer. Although details of a Veyron successor are still scarce and unconfirmed, one thing was made clear the past few years, there would not be a new Bugatti before the current production run of the Veyron is completely sold.
Our passenger lap with Mr Durheimer in the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse WRC formed the ‘cherry on the cake’ of a weekend with Bugatti at the Nurburgring 24 Hours. Stay tuned for our review of the Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse WRC on the streets around the Nurburgring!