A Jaguar XE 300 Sport has established a lap record for a production saloon at the original Circuit de Charade, Clermont-Ferrand, in France. The five-mile circuit – which includes public road sections – hosted the French Grand Prix in 1965, 1969, 1970 and 1972. It fell out of favour as loose volcanic rock and the lack of any real run-off areas took their toll on cars and drivers alike.
XE 300 SPORT BREAKS FLYING LAP RECORD
The full, longer circuit was last used in 1988 so Jaguar decided it would be fitting to return to the historic track to mark the 30th anniversary of its closure by completing the first flying lap of the circuit in three decades.
Jaguar worked closely with the track owners and local authorities to re-establish the original Circuit de Charade layout for the 300 Sport’s flying lap, reopening sections that link today’s track with the public roads that made up the daunting original.
Driver Vincent Radermecker attempted to set a production saloon lap record in the XE 300 Sport, after doing the same at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in 2017, behind the wheel of the XE SV Project 8. Vincent also had to contend with a roundabout and two narrow gateways that were not in the original circuit, but lapped the demanding track in just four minutes nine seconds at an average speed of 72mph.
Vincent thought it was every bit as demanding as setting the production saloon record at the Nürburgring, explaining, “The longest straight is barely 600 metres, so I can see why drivers used to call this the French Nürburgring. It’s a privilege to drive this track and it’s really special to drive here with Jaguar. The agility, dynamic handling and all-wheel-drive traction of the XE 300 Sport came into its own on this challenging track.”
With 295lb ft of torque, Vincent made full use of the XE’s handling capabilities to exploit the smallest of opportunities throughout the twisty, undulating track, which snakes around an extinct volcano in the centre of the original layout.
The XE 300 Sport is powered by a 300PS (296bhp) 2.0-litre Ingenium petrol engine and is capable of 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds. Mike Cross, JLR’s chief engineer told us that the XE’s lightweight, stiff aluminium-intensive architecture and sophisticated integral-link rear suspension make it the best driver’s car in its class. He said, “Following the XE SV Project 8’s record-setting lap at the Nürburgring, for the 300 Sport to set a record on this fast, flowing and demanding circuit demonstrates that these are two cars with one DNA.”
VINCENT MADE FULL USE OF THE XE’S HANDLING