Spend greater than two minutes with the person, and also you get the sense that, not like for Einstein, time isn’t relative for Christian von Koenigsegg. His concept of velocity, nevertheless, very a lot is. What we Camry, Golf, Civic, and Tahoe plebeians name potential jail time, von Koenigsegg conceptualizes as childish crawling, a trait his mythic Scandinavian machines very a lot embody.
This notion of velocity can also be one which’s shared along with his firm’s house owners and acolytes, and that is how we’ve come to a closed 12-mile stretch of Highway 160 simply exterior of Pahrump, Nevada, with a newly constructed Koenigsegg Agera RS and a driver able to push the bounds of street-car physics. History positively gained’t be the identical.
There are three causes we’re right here. First, Koenigsegg is trying to beat the production-car prime velocity file, which is at present 267.Eight mph. This was accomplished about seven years in the past by Bugatti in a Veyron Super Sports at Volkswagen’s Ehra-Lessien check monitor, a monitor the place no different producer is allowed to check.
The second is to interrupt a file that’s stood since 1938, a prime velocity on public roads file accomplished by the Nazis. The third purpose is to interrupt Koenigsegg’s personal file of Zero-400-kph-Zero, a feat the corporate lately achieved, one which additionally beat Bugatti’s personal file with the newly launched Chiron.
There is, nevertheless, a twist. Unlike when Bugatti goes for data and brings alongside a military of engineers, mechanics, and fabricators to make sure that each piece of the Veyron or Chiron is pitch good, this occasion isn’t being carried out by Koenigsegg.
Three pals—and a number of Koenigsegg house owners with very deep pockets—have arrange this historic occasion. Those pals are Jeffrey Cheng, John Morris, and Mark Stidham, the person who has graciously raised his hand and supplied up his particular crimson and carbon Agera RS to finish these Herculean duties.
There was some manufacturing facility badist, after all. Christian von Koenigsegg himself was in attendance in addition to a number of engineers and Koenigsegg’s personal skilled driver, Nicholas Lilja, who has been advantageous tuning the Agera RS for the final month and a half, together with driving the automotive when the corporate beat Bugatti’s earlier Zero-400-Zero file. As for locating a street match for this type of check, issues have been much less easy.
Unlike Bugatti’s check monitor, the place circumstances will be monitored, variables will be managed, and there isn’t a lick of incline, Nevada’s Highway 160 isn’t secluded. It’s lined with bushes and gated safety. There are elevation modifications in each instructions.
There aren’t any buffers for the wind like at Bugatti’s German monitor. And it’s at the next elevation than nominal—though this does support the automotive’s slipperiness. Koenigsegg and the gents who put this occasion on positively weren’t doing themselves or the automotive any favors.
The evening earlier than, Christian and his crew together with Marc and Jeffrey met to debate the run. If the room had been filled with cigarette smoke, you’d have mistaken it for NASA earlier than the primary Apollo mission. I half anticipated John Glenn to stroll into the room.
There was a basic electrical energy and stress within the air, one thing like flying by the seat of your pants. Anything is feasible. The driver and Christian each seemed as in the event that they have been elated and about to throw up, a nervousness that wouldn’t move till the runs have been over the following afternoon.
These varieties of speeds aren’t regular for street vehicles. Race vehicles do it frequently however not a automotive you possibly can drive to your native grocery store. Even your common McLaren, Ferrari, and Lamborghini can do greater than 200 mph, nevertheless it solely takes about 600 horsepower to hit 200.
To hit 260-280 mph, almost 1,400 horsepower is required, relying on the automotive’s weight. For the Agera RS, that’s not an issue, which is propelled by a 1,380 horsepower twin-turbocharged V-Eight.
Before breaking for dinner, I requested Christian a easy query: Theoretically, what’s the Agera RS geared for? With a smirk, he informed me: 282 mph. “But that’s bouncing off the rev limiter,” he mentioned, “and likely doing damage to the engine.” Definitely one thing nobody wished to listen to. The room fell deathly silent.
After dinner, our photographers and I went again to the storage the place the Koenigsegg crew was holding Mark’s Agera RS, in addition to three different Agera RS fashions and an older CCX R. While drooling over the dear metallic, Nicholas, Koenigsegg’s race-car driver, walked in to examine the automotive he’d be piloting the following day another time with the badistance of two of the corporate’s engineers.
As the blokes pored over their laptops, I spoke with Nicholas and requested him what he thought would occur. “I don’t know,” he replied in a really mechanical Swedish accent. “This is very much uncharted territory. We’ve done many tests over the last month and a half, but until you’re out there driving the car, you really can’t tell.” He added, “There are many variables—wind, temperature, the road surface. We’ll see what happens.”
As we spoke, I may inform he was nervous. Nicholas is an engineer by commerce. He began working at Koenigsegg when the corporate first launched however left to kind his personal engineering firm that went on to construct one of many vehicles for the Gumball 3000.
Recently, he got here again as a full-fledged check driver. That was after competing in numerous racing sequence world wide and successful about 50 p.c of his races. Not a foul stat to hold your hat on. According to Steven Wade, Koenigsegg’s head of PR who was additionally in attendance, the corporate couldn’t be happier with him. “He’s a one-man engineering and testing team.” Wade mentioned. My fingers have been crossed for him as we shook arms and mentioned good evening.
Waking to darkness, the camp at Spring Mountain Motorsports was resigned. Wind velocity was barely too excessive for good runs, and after I left Nicholas within the storage the evening earlier than, the engineers discovered a possible fuel-pump challenge. To be sure that every thing would go proper, Nicholas took the automotive out on Spring Mountain’s monitor for a fast shakedown run.
As all of us gathered atop the viewing tower, we heard him take the primary straight at full bore. The sound reverberated by means of the mountains and despatched shockwaves by means of our chests. An added advantage of shaking the automotive down earlier than dawn is that we have been handled to the foot-long flames that spewed from the Koenigsegg’s 3D printed titanium exhaust. Suffice it to say, everybody felt a little bit higher and a little bit extra jovial after watching the fireworks.
One last stroll across the automotive, and Nicholas determined that as a substitute of trailering the Agera RS out to Highway 160, he’d give it a last shake down and drive it on the market. It wasn’t far, nevertheless it appeared as if he wished a little bit extra time with the automotive earlier than he’d make the run. I couldn’t blame him. Koenigsegg and everybody who helped make this occasion occur hoped for constructive outcomes.
With the automotive’s proprietor, Mark, sitting within the pbadenger seat, and Nevada’s Highway Patrol firstly and much finish of the 12-mile course, Nicholas and Mark went out on a scouting run simply because the solar crested over the Nevada mountains.
Originally, Christian, Mark, and Nicholas had agreed that the primary scouting runs can be finished at round 100-130 mph, simply to get the texture of the street since Nicholas had by no means pushed it earlier than. They ended up hitting 220 mph with ease. Mark exited the automotive wanting like a toddler on Christmas morning.
Talking with Mark after the preliminary run, I requested him why he determined to do that. He mentioned, “Anyone can take a specialty vehicle that’s been modified and go fast. But to take a completely production car, directly from the factory, and do this? It’s just not done.”
Progress towards the top-speed run was sluggish. The first trek into the unknown wasn’t made till a number of hours later. During that point, Nicholas accomplished a number of extra scouting runs, all of which have been across the similar velocity as his first.
When the wind was lastly calm and outdoors air temperatures hovered round 60 levels, the 2 helicopters masking the race distance have been prepared. Nicholas was prepared. The Swede suited up, strapped in, and seemed out on the horizon towards the unfamiliar panorama. We all held our breath as Nicholas slowly crawled away from the pits.
The seconds felt like minutes, and the minutes felt like hours as we nervously waited for Nicholas’ return. Just after we nibbled our fingernails to the bone, Nicholas returned and exited the Koenigsegg’s badpit. His demeanor was pure stoicism. You couldn’t learn whether or not or not he had finished the extraordinary.
All he mentioned was, “It felt OK.” We needed to then patiently look forward to Race Logic to obtain the telemetry from the dual unbiased GPS containers contained in the automotive. When all was mentioned and finished, the primary move hit a staggering and record-beating 271.2 mph. The total paddock roared as Christian embraced Nicholas and Mark. They had crushed the Nazis’ 79-year-old file.
We, nevertheless, weren’t finished. Nicholas mentioned he lifted nicely earlier than the brake markers out on monitor. More velocity was ensured. Nearly each mouth in camp dropped. Nicholas’ remained virtually detached as he was targeted on the job at hand.
The Koenigsegg’s gasoline tanks topped up, Nicholas went out for an additional run. You may’ve heard a pin drop as everybody strained to listen to the tell-tale rumble from the Koenigsegg’s mighty engine. We peered out into the freeway’s haze, looking for a tiny crimson carbon blob within the distance. Even although visibility was close to good, the elevation and size of the monitor made it nigh unattainable to identify. Slowly, Nicholas and the automotive got here into view as a mob of individuals went out onto the street to greet him as if he have been a WWII soldier getting back from battle.
The Race Logic engineer returned as soon as extra. Silence. 284.6 mph. The quantity was verified by means of each of Race Logic’s V-BOXs, in addition to Koenigsegg’s personal inner system and Stalker Radar’s twin radar weapons. Christian mentioned the theoretical gearing of the automotive solely allowed for 282 mph, however that they had simply crushed their very own calculations.
The sound everybody made within the pits is one thing I’ll always remember. The crowd erupted with pleasure. Hands have been shook, backs have been patted, and hugs got. Christian seemed just like the happiest man on this planet. However, all wasn’t completed. To shut up web commenters, in addition to different producers, the Koenigsegg crew determined to run the course each methods. And the common can be used because the automotive’s official prime velocity.
With one other splash of gasoline and a quiet drive down the 12-mile straight, Nicholas was lined up as soon as once more, able to make historical past.
While the temper within the pits was extra jovial because the data started to fall, the session wasn’t full, and there was nonetheless an actual presence of hazard. Something may simply go mistaken. Everyone wished Nicholas to complete the duty, together with Nicholas. Fortunately, Nicholas wasn’t deterred and put his foot to the ground.
Unfortunately, the final top-speed run wouldn’t be pretty much as good as his final as there was a good headwind that slowed down the Koenigsegg significantly. The last prime velocity, a measly 271.2 mph. However, that meant that the common between the 2 runs have been a world-record-beating 277.9 mph. Bugatti was left within the Nevadan mud.
After everybody had congratulated Nicholas on the run, I requested him. How did the automotive really feel hitting these speeds? “Really calm the first way,” he mentioned. “The second, it stepped out a few meters. The car isn’t optimal driving into a headwind.” What about now being one of many quickest males on Earth? “I like to drive and go fast on tracks,” Nicholas mentioned, “really push the car’s limits and my own. Going fast in a straight line isn’t my cup of tea. But going more than 460 kph was truly special. I’m really grateful that Christian and Mark gave me the opportunity to do this, but also Michelin for developing a tire that can do this.”
Michelin actually are the unsung heroes of this complete endeavor. The automotive runs an ordinary Pilot Cup 2 tire, one thing you may get at almost each auto components retailer. For the run, Michelin despatched Eric Schmedding, the model’s product clbad supervisor, to verify the tires have been prepared for the beating they have been about to endure.
The tires carried out as meant. “It’s amazing,” Eric mentioned. “We did seven runs on the same set of tires. (Three were completed in Europe before the car had been shipped to the States.) We definitely didn’t plan that, but the tires held up. And these are tires you can order off Tire Rack. They aren’t specially made. Amazing!”
When requested whether or not Michelin would use the information it collected throughout this check for the development of Bugatti’s particular Pilot Cup 2 tires for the Chiron, Eric mentioned the information can be used for future designs, however Koenigsegg’s particular knowledge gained’t be used for Bugatti’s Chiron mission. “It’s all about different loads. The Bugatti is heavier than the Koenigsegg, and its tires will need to be designed to handle that specific load.”
Catching up with Mark, the person who truly owns the automotive, I requested the way it felt having the quickest automotive on this planet. “Surreal. It doesn’t even feel like anything yet.” He added, “It’s like winning the Olympics. You’re the gold-medal winner for that day and really that day alone. This, this feels absolute. It feels final.”
All, nevertheless, was not completed. On October 5, Koenigsegg had smashed the Bugatti Chiron’s insane Zero-400-kph-Zero file of 41.96 seconds by a whopping 5.52 seconds. That, nevertheless, was finished with previous tires, alloy wheels, and on a runway from the second World War. Conditions weren’t preferrred, and because the freeway was nonetheless closed, Koenigsegg got down to beat their very own file, proving the Agera RS because the quickest automotive on the planet.
While not as harmful because the top-speed runs, the Zero-400-Zero nonetheless represented a danger, and Nicholas maintained his steely demeanor by means of the 2 runs. The first, Nicholas hit the brakes too early, hitting Zero-396-kph-Zero in simply 33.13 seconds. That’s nonetheless inside an virtually infinitesimal margin of error, however Nicholas mentioned he may do higher.
Nevertheless, throughout his first run, he had traveled simply 2,229 meters and clocked a 9.82-second quarter mile with a entice velocity of 165 mph. The automotive, nevertheless, wanted to chill down between runs as beating on it within the desert warmth had begun to take its toll.
About a half hour handed between the primary and second run. Eric from Michelin used this time to examine the tires, which to his shock have been in virtually good situation. The a number of top-speed runs, in addition to the large acceleration and immense deceleration, hadn’t compromised the tires. They have been good to go, and as quickly because the automotive was prepared Nicholas headed as soon as extra into the breach.
With our collective breaths held as soon as once more, he slammed the automotive from first to second to 3rd in lightning succession. The percussive blats from the titanium exhaust we felt as a lot as heard. We knew this was going to be run. It was. When Nicholas returned, Race Logic’s engineer gave us the metrics.
Nicholas did Zero-401.78-kph-Zero in simply 33.87 seconds. He had lined a barely longer distance measuring 2,299 meters and had finished the quarter mile in simply 9.96 seconds with a entice velocity of 165.93 mph. Koenigsegg not solely beat their very own file, nevertheless it had completely shattered Bugatti’s. The proverbial mic was dropped.
Speaking with Christian von Koenigsegg after all of the runs have been full, he mentioned with amusing, “We were out here to be the fastest, not the ultimate fastest.” He added, “It’s still a customer car. It has to go to Mark at the end of the day. We didn’t want to beat it up too much, but Mark wanted records, and we delivered a record car.” Nicholas, nevertheless, mentioned that there was nonetheless some velocity left on the desk. “We probably could’ve gone a bit faster,” as he lastly cracked his reserved Swedish demeanor with a smirk.
Records fell, the automotive was returned to its proprietor in a single piece, and we have been capable of witness historical past. Now the bar is ready, and we’re desirous to see what Bugatti can handle with its Teutonic powerhouse. Bugatti’s Chiron has a speedometer that goes to 300 mph, however can the Germans actually prime Koenigsegg’s may? Only time will inform. We can’t wait.