Car versus bike. You’ll have read it before and you’ll read it again, but it’s worth reading this one too.
Think of it as a state of the nation address. An opinion poll. An update from an ongoing fixture. The latest score from a match that has been taking place for about 100 years and will carry on for another century or more.
Today’s premise is a pretty straightforward one. They’re two fast vehicles in a straight-line drag test. Supercar versus superbike, but the quickest ‘everyday’ vehicles from, if you squint a bit, the same manufacturer, Audi, which has a controlling stake in Ducati.
Audi, then, provides the ordinary supercar, the R8. It has four-wheel drive, a naturally aspirated V10 engine in its middle, a dual-clutch automatic gearbox and launch control, and it’s the normal R8, not the Plus version. Thus, it has 533bhp and 397lb ft and costs £126,200.
Ducati provides its ordinary superbike, which is not so ordinary any more, because in place of the famous V-twin engine, Ducati now gives its performance motorbike a V4. This is the 1103cc Panigale V4 but, as with the R8, it’s not quite the top-spec model, the S, but the ordinary, everyday, usable one. Well, as ordinary as 211bhp at the crank and 92lb ft are on a motorcycle that weighs just 175kg, anyway. It, too, has launch control, although it’s not as straightforward as the Audi’s. For all that, you’ll pay only £19,250.
We’ve come to Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground because it’s wide, but the brittle concrete surface is less than perfect in places and the start of the run is ever so slightly uphill, although it’s fairly sheltered from the wind. We’ve recorded some pretty quick times here over the years in cars and on bikes that have taken some deft foot and handwork to get off the line well.
Today, only one of us has that issue, and it won’t be me. I’ll be driving the car, which has a launch control system that requires absolutely no skill whatsoever. You engage forwards, put the traction control into the right mode, tread firmly on the brake and then push quickly on the throttle. If the launch control system is on board with you, it’ll automatically hold the revs at 3500rpm, until all you have to do is sidestep the brake pedal.