Speed is relative. If you’ve been lucky enough to fly off on holiday this year, you’ll have done 350kph as you trundle down the runway, then cruised at 800–1000kph as you battle with the tray table and in-flight food options. I have no doubt some of you will have been to the toilet at this velocity – congratulations. Clearly, our perception of speed is skewed by the environment. Back on the ground, speed is currency. In a world where bragging rights drive purchase decisions, the ability to say “My car is faster than yours” matters. The Bugatti Chiron Sport has a claimed (and limited) top speed of 420kph. To date, no one outside of the Bugatti development team has experienced Vmax in a Chiron. My task – if I pass my high-speed training – is to hit the magic number at Bugatti’s top secret Ehra-Lessien test facility. Why me? Because if a middle-aged ex-tractor driver can do it, anyone can.
To gain access to the Schnellbahn, with its 8.7-kilometre straight, I’m required to complete and pass the Supersport course – the highest grade of driver training within the VW group. I arrive at the security gates to be met by Michal Kutina, Ehra’s head of training, and after grabbing an R8 from the car park, head to the Schnellbahn for my first experience of the legendary banking.