We already knew that the Bugatti Bolide has a ridiculous 1578 hp from an even more ridiculous 8.0-liter W16 engine. We also know that it will be restricted to track use, where it the lighter and more powerful initial concept was said to be ready for a 5:23 lap of the Nordscheliefe. Now, Bugatti has shared details on the safety tub at the heart of the car.
Bugatti claims that the Bolide's central monocoque, or tub, has passed a series of FIA safety tests typically reserved for professional race cars. In one test, a rollover protection test that puts 7.5 tons of force on the car's A-pillar, cars are given a small tolerance for cracks at the point of impact. Bugatti claims that the Bolide had no cracks at all.
All of that safety is important in a car this powerful meant to be placed in the hands of customers, but it was not the most interesting part of the press release. Bugatti also pointed out that the Bolide's monocoque was "developed to the same demanding [FIA LMH] requirements as Le Mans race cars."
This is the latest news from Bugatti to play up the Bolide's connection to the Circuit de la Sarthe and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car's initial announcement came with a projected lap time of the 8.5-mile track. The car was actually rolled out at the track two and a half years later, running demo laps before this year's 24 hour classic. Now, Bugatti is sharing how close their fully-developed car is to those that actually race in the event.
None of that is exactly a teaser for a Bugatti in the top class at Le Mans, but it does get us thinking. The Bolide is a perfect illustration of what the current Le Mans Hypercar regulations should be, a purpose-built racer with the clear DNA of the brand's road cars visible from every angle. It was already more than fast enough to keep up with the cars in that class. Now, it is also provably safe enough. What if Bugatti developed another version of the Bolide meant for the category, something like the Aston Martin Valkyrie that was at one point supposed to exist both as a road car and as a race car at Le Mans?
The W-16 in the back certainly would not work with the modern LMH racing rule set, but a Bolide variant powered by a smaller engine could still be viable. Porsche won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a V-4 three times in the Twenty-Tens, one of many decades where it notably did not produce a road car with a V-4 engine. Volkswagen group's many performance brands have not been shy about racing against each other in the race, either; not only did that 919 Hybrid race against Audi R18s, Porsche's new 963 was originally planned as a rival to a now-canceled Audi racer and will be racing against a Lamborghini next year. That leaves plenty of room for a Bugatti Bolide, even if that Bolide would sound very different from the version being sold to customers.
A Bugatti program at Le Mans is unlikely in any form, let alone as an evolution of the Bolide. It would be cool, though. Here at Road & Track, we believe that is reason enough to justify an eight-figure investment of someone else's money into a racing program.
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