Shivaum Punjabi chats with Stephan Winklemann at the launch of the Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport.
First things first, let me get it out: I have a man-crush on Stephan Winklemann (and I am completely straight). A man who has worked in the automotive industry for years and managed to carve his name in the history books is someone everyone should be inspired by.
Mr Stephan Winklemann has been able to ensure that VAG’s performance cars are household names today – by creating inspirational brand stories and more than that, in leading a team to create some phenomenal record-breaking cars. Bugatti and Lamborghini cars today are brands aspired to by the wealthiest individuals globally, which is no small feat.
I enjoyed meeting and interviewing Stephan in Dubai at the Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport’s regional launch. Cool as a cucumber, confident and poised, he greeted every single person present at the venue.
Dressed sharply in a double-breasted navy pinstripe suit and tie, he looked quite classy and elegant. Sporting a plethora of bracelets and an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore watch showed a man with taste and personality.
I also got to meet Andy Wallace. Andy Wallace is a legend in his own right, a multiple winner of the 24 Hours races, and the man who piloted the Chiron to 482 KPH! He took the time and patiently explained to me how much preparation is required to achieve speed targets.
From the tires which have to be specially made by Michelin, plus the weather conditions, track conditions, and over and above the team’s mental state. All of it has to come together to be able to achieve such records.
He clearly said that we have to be a little crazy even to try to attempt such records. The whole conversation reminded me as if I am talking to an aircraft pilot rather than a racing driver.
After this interview, I got a personal walk-around of the Bugatti Chiron Pur Sport with Frank Heyl, the deputy designer of the car.
The Chiron Pur Sport features the iconic Bugatti W16 engine which produces a mind-numbing 1500 HP! I do not even know how to comprehend that number. It has a 7-speed gearbox, and is capable of 0-100 in 2.3 seconds and 0-300 in less than 12 seconds! It took me longer to type that. Top speed is limited to a mere 350 KPH because it is designed for track purposes and not straight line dominance.
Since it is a track-focused car, what Bugatti has done differently? Well, it has used all sorts of trickery to reduce weight. The Pur Sport is lighter by 50 kg than the regular Chiron. Bugatti has achieved this by reducing wipers’ weight and creating a special 3D printed titanium exhaust.
Making specialized magnesium alloy wheels to help with weight saving. Using Alcantara instead of leather wherever possible. Even the suspension setup is stiffer than that of the regular Chiron.
Another massive change is the revised gearbox which helps in holding gear until redline and shifts are shorter.
There is a lot of aerodynamic trickery deployed to increase downforce like the fixed-wing at the back. The entire front end is redesigned to manage airflow for more downforce and ensure the whole mechanical system is appropriately cooled.
Only 60 Chiron Pur Sports will be ever made. Costing around $3.3 million, which is approximately $1 million more than standard Chiron, you will be wondering if it is worth it. Well, when I buy my first Bugatti Chiron, I will let you know.
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Images and text by Shivaum Punjabi