Pierre-Henri Raphanel‘s name is synonymous with speed and excellence, a journey that took him from karting glory to the world’s most elite motorsport, and ultimately, to a pivotal role at Bugatti.
As the brand’s one and only Pilote Officiel since 2005, Pierre-Henri shares his profound passion for racing and Bugatti’s legendary hyper sports cars with enthusiasts worldwide.
The Early Years: A Karting Prodigy Emerges
Pierre-Henri’s remarkable journey began at the age of 13 when he first stepped into the world of competitive karting. With natural talent and unwavering determination, he swiftly climbed the ranks, winning the French Championship and achieving a top-six World Championship ranking. His family’s support was instrumental, as they embarked on a racing adventure, crisscrossing France to participate in prestigious races.
Having conquered karting, Pierre-Henri ventured into Formula Renault, followed by successful seasons in Formula 3000 and Formula 3. His achievements included winning the French Championship and clinching victory at the F3 Monaco Grand Prix. These accomplishments propelled him to the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula One, where he realized his dream of competing in the Monaco Grand Prix in 1989.
Endurance Racing and Le Mans Glory
Seeking new challenges, Pierre-Henri shifted his focus to endurance car racing, embracing iconic events like the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Japan Championship GT series. At Le Mans, he celebrated three podium finishes and a class win during his 14 races. This phase of his career set the stage for the next chapter.
In 2005, Pierre-Henri received an unexpected call from Thomas Bscher, Bugatti’s President at the time, marking the beginning of a transformative chapter. Intrigued, he accepted an invitation to Molsheim to witness the unveiling of the Veyron, a modern-day automotive icon.
Pierre-Henri’s encounter with the Veyron left an indelible mark. He describes it as “mind-blowing” and unlike anything in the automotive world. It was a moment of profound fascination that led him to commit to Bugatti’s remarkable journey.
The Role of a Pioneering Pilote Officiel
From that moment forward, Pierre-Henri became Bugatti’s sole Pilote Officiel, entrusted to represent the brand and showcase its marvels worldwide. His role extended beyond driving; he also explained engineering innovations and shared Bugatti’s rich history with passion.
Christophe Piochon, President of Bugatti Automobiles, commended Pierre-Henri’s contributions, highlighting his ability to articulate Bugatti’s vision and embody the brand’s essence.
Even after 18 years, Pierre-Henri remains captivated by Bugatti’s hyper sports cars, which seamlessly blend beauty and power. He affectionately calls Bugatti cars “The Beauty and the Beast,” emphasizing their ability to combine performance with agility, power with comfort, and signature external sounds with luxurious interior acoustics.
Pierre-Henri’s personal journey with Bugatti reached its zenith in July 2010 when he drove the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport to a world record maximum speed of 431.072 km/h. Beyond speed records, he cherishes the opportunity to create lasting memories and share Bugatti’s exceptional legacy with enthusiasts worldwide.
Bugatti’s commitment to excellence, deep heritage, and relentless pursuit of perfection resonate with Pierre-Henri, making his association with the brand a dream come true.
As Bugatti embarks on an exciting new chapter, Pierre-Henri is eager to continue living his dream and creating unparalleled memories. The brand’s legacy, encapsulated by a dedicated team in Molsheim, remains an enduring source of inspiration for him. He envisions Bugatti’s future as a continuation of its rich heritage, promising new and incomparable experiences in the world of automotive excellence.