RE: BTCC car vs TT bike

Saturday 20th August 2016

BTCC car vs TT bike

BTCC star Gordon Shedden and TT legend John McGuinness swap seats for a twist on car versus bike [now with video]



Car or motorbike: which is faster? It's the subject of much hot air, but it seems the wrong question to us when the machines are so wildly different. Far better to ask how and why they differ, and even where they might share some common ground. To do this, who better to ask than a driver and a rider more qualified than most to give us some answers? This is why we find ourselves at Knockhill circuit with current British Touring Car Champion Gordon Shedden and road race legend John McGuinness, the most successful living TT rider in the world.

The opportunity came about as both Shedden and McGuinness use Dunlop tyres and Honda race machinery, and both had been badgering their sponsors for a turn in the other's seat. Fortunately Honda and Dunlop were just as keen to find out, though there were a few nervous looks among the respective crews as Gordon and John swapped Nomex and leather for the day.

Who looks more nervous?
Who looks more nervous?
Four wheels good?
First up is John, driving Shedden's 350hp Honda Civic BTCC car. He avoids any stalls as he pulls away from the pit lane and is soon into a rhythm around the undulating Scottish track. It helps that he knows the layout from his early days of racing two-stroke 250cc bikes here and he soon settles into respectable 54-second laps. That's not too far off race pace for Shedden.

Once back in the pits, John gives his initial impressions. "The braking and cornering are unbelievable compared to the bike. You stick it in and it's just grip, grip, grip, so the apex speed is much higher. I'm braking about 100 metres later in the Civic than I do on the Fireblade."

Impressive, but Gordon's familiarity with his machine is telling. "I had to look at Gordon's data after the first run," laughs John. "Turns out he's braking 48 metres later than I was to begin with, so I could see where I had to sharpen up."

The bike fights back out of the corners though. "The power to weight ratio of the Fireblade means it just gobbles up the car on the straights," he says. "Also, the seating position in the car is alien to me as I'm strapped in. You can see so much more on a bike and aim for the apex, whereas in the BTCC car I had to judge it by experience instead of sight."

McGuinness is also surprised how much the car moves about in corners. "It skips around more than I expected and there's understeer. That's not something I'm used to as on a bike if the front lets go, nine time out of 10 times you're upside down. I've got massive respect for Gordon as it's hot, noisy and busy in there. You're working really hard and I was using muscles I didn't know I had. Mind you, I wouldn't mind having a BTCC Civic for track days..."

No contest in a straight line!
No contest in a straight line!
Face/Off
Now it's Gordon's turn and he seems more pensive than John was. Hardly surprising given the Fireblade has a power to weight ratio of around 900hp per tonne, compared to the Civic's 273hp per tonne. It doesn't stop him turning in quick times though and he's soon down to a consistent 55-second lap. Not that anyone was keeping tabs on such things, of course.

It's clear the physicality of riding a Superstock Fireblade at pace has surprised Gordon. His usual calm demeanour is accompanied by a sweat-soaked brow. "The bike is doing everything it can to rip your arms out of their sockets," he reflects. "Your brain has to work so fast to keep up and you're always conscious it's got to be you riding the bike rather than just hanging on. The acceleration is phenomenal. It's so rapid in parts of the track where the car isn't, but then I was also waiting and waiting to get on the power through corners where I can be hard on the throttle in the Civic."

As with John's drive in the BTCC car, it's the Fireblade's braking that surprises Gordon the most. "The brakes are so good and the tyres offer so much grip. In my mind, I was thinking there's only a contact patch the size of a credit card on the front tyre, yet it stops so well."

Civic still has the power to surprise though...
Civic still has the power to surprise though...
Same difference
So, what are the big differences between car and bike? "You can push and find the limit in the BTCC car, perhaps go beyond it and just bring it back a little," says Shedden. "Even if you miss an apex, it's not a problem. On the bike, it's very difficult to get to that fine point of getting the most out of it but not overstepping the mark. Gauging where the limit lies is trickier, especially as I don't have the experience to slide the bike like John does and I don't want to end up on my ass.

"With the car, you're strapped in tight and everything is done through the fingertips. Also, you have exactly the same view every lap if you're doing it right. On the bike, you're up, down, side to side, so you see corners totally differently and your body moves a huge amount relative to the machine. Then there's the wind trying to push you off."

And similarities? McGuinness is characteristically matter of fact. "Both are a real laugh to go fast in or on. That's about it!"

Watch the video here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author
Discussion

5ltr V8

Original Poster:

14 posts

110 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
Interesting read, I wounder what they could both achieve time wise in their own machines?

daniel-5zjw7

372 posts

37 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
The fast superstock 1000 boys run mid 49s around Knockhill (based on qualy from June's round), Shakeys lap record is 48.2. I think the lap record for a BTCC car in qualy is 51.6, which would get you on the front row in Superstock 600..

soad

29,211 posts

112 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
Why no video?

wormus

9,752 posts

139 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
yeah, cars are much slower on the TT circuit as well. Nothing to see here.

mrmistercharles

18 posts

65 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
soad said:
Why no video?
Coming this weekend smile
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GroundEffect

11,047 posts

92 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
wormus said:
yeah, cars are much slower on the TT circuit as well. Nothing to see here.
Because you're comparing with slow cars. Put a Formula 3 (with a piddly 200BHP) against the bikes wink





F3 record at Knockhill is 47.0.

hughcam

340 posts

101 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
GroundEffect said:
Because you're comparing with slow cars. Put a Formula 3 (with a piddly 200BHP) against the bikes wink





F3 record at Knockhill is 47.0.
That wouldn't really be fair though as the bikes are based on production bikes, not race specific chassis like the F3 car...

And thus the whole argument of what's faster begins!! (which is obviously a car if you compare a GP bike to F1 car)

RobM77

31,649 posts

170 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
GroundEffect said:
wormus said:
yeah, cars are much slower on the TT circuit as well. Nothing to see here.
Because you're comparing with slow cars. Put a Formula 3 (with a piddly 200BHP) against the bikes wink





F3 record at Knockhill is 47.0.
yes Even the Formula Ford lap record is 48.6, and they have way less power than a superbike.

Great article though smile

One major difference that the article misses out on is the frightening speeds that the bikes need to get to to do those lap times. If someone says "mid 48 around Knockhill" to me or "2 minutes around Silverstone GP" I know that involves a top speed of about 130-140mph, because my experience is with cars. The other day a friend of mine took his road bike to Silverstone and hit 170mph on the back straight - the racers are obviously going much faster than that! eek My point is that it's easy to get blinkered by lap times on their own without realising just how differently the two different types of vehicle are going about it, and it's there that the interest lies, as hinted at by this article.

Gandahar

6,001 posts

64 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
Enjoyable article. It would be fun putting PH folk on a bike and a car and do a combined lap in the true Olympic spirit. Perhaps PH can organise a special track day on a Sunday to see who has the best times on their bike and car?

biggrin


Hungrymc

3,646 posts

73 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
RobM77 said:
My point is that it's easy to get blinkered by lap times on their own without realising just how differently the two different types of vehicle are going about it, and it's there that the interest lies, as hinted at by this article.
Agree, and in my experience, the approach to cornering is far more stark than the top speed difference. The article explains it fairly well. Pushing a car to and beyond its cornering limits is something we all do in the course of driving a car quickly or for fun(we don't necessarily do it well, its not necessarily the quickest way round a lap). Pushing a bike beyond its cornering limits is something that only the very best do reliably, and the majority only do in the course of having an accident.... There is an accuracy and safety margin needed on a bike that is much less present in a car. And ironically, it contrasts with the perception many have about bikers being nutters... They have to be very accurate.

It's worth noting that I love both and I wouldn't get into a discussion about which is quicker or best, both are great but very different.

jamespink

1,029 posts

140 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
Hats off to Sheddon for jumping on the Fireblade and putting in such a time. Far harder than biker in a car!

Cupramax

7,555 posts

188 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
mrmistercharles said:
soad said:
Why no video?
Coming this weekend smile

Hungrymc

3,646 posts

73 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
jamespink said:
Hats off to Sheddon for jumping on the Fireblade and putting in such a time. Far harder than biker in a car!
He's quite an enthusiast apparently. He owns two or three bikes and does track days. But that's not the same thing as being a professional rider, so yes, hats off to him.

em177

2,893 posts

100 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
Hungrymc said:
He's quite an enthusiast apparently. He owns two or three bikes and does track days. But that's not the same thing as being a professional rider, so yes, hats off to him.
Amazed Gordon is only 7 seconds off the BSB bike lap record. That's some pretty good going!

GroundEffect

11,047 posts

92 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
<3 Gordon. Huge man crush.

Also knockhill is my old haunting ground. The BSBs get over 180mph up the front straight. And that's only 600m long!

Pebbles167

2,127 posts

88 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
Its always great to see racers swap places. Mcguiness did well, but fair play to Gordon, thats bloody quick!

TOOMANYMS

25 posts

98 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
wormus said:
yeah, cars are much slower on the TT circuit as well. Nothing to see here.
I thought it was a good read with lots to see.

wormus

9,752 posts

139 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
TOOMANYMS said:
I thought it was a good read with lots to see.
My comment was tonge in cheek as I remember the long running argument about cars being faster around the TT circuit and then failing. Bit like comparing apples with footballs, similar properties but go about their business in very different ways.

mikearwas

1,047 posts

95 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
wormus said:
My comment was tonge in cheek as I remember the long running argument about cars being faster around the TT circuit and then failing. Bit like comparing apples with footballs, similar properties but go about their business in very different ways.
DTM car would be quicker than the bike.

hughcam

340 posts

101 months

Wednesday 17th August 2016
quotequote all
mikearwas said:
DTM car would be quicker than the bike.
So it should be being based on non production spec engine/chassis. Not really relevant to the above article IMO