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.
Our rider doesn’t have it quite so easy. He’s Neil Winn, from our sister magazine What Car?, but when he’s not measuring boot capacities he’s riding a bike or racing a car, so he knows what he’s about.
His job is much harder, because although the Ducati he’s riding does have launch control, it’s not quite as easy to engage and a damned sight harder to use. The Panigale V4 has a conventional clutch, and if Neil flicks his fingers off of that lever like he would to shoo a fly, the bike will rotate around its back wheel and dump him firmly on his arse.