Car versus bike contests are always dead good fun to conduct because the formbook dictates if there are straights involved, the bike wins. Easily. And if there are corners involved it’s the other way round; car munches bike. And the bike fraternity goes into apoplexy, pointing out that there are grossly unfair differences in asking prices, power outputs, torque, traction control and so on.
But this one was different because the discipline itself involved some braking (quite a lot of fairly manic braking actually) plus the need for some genuine top-end performance. And in both cases you’d expect a car like the 197mph Audi R8 V10 Plus to have the edge, even over a bike like the 692bhp/tonne Ducati Diavel.
Even so, both car and bike rider genuinely expected the Audi to get whipped in a side-by-side 0-150-0mph test. And when Superbike’s road test editor, Chris Northover, and I did the first few practice runs – without any test gear in situ – I thought it was game over for the R8.
The Ducati was so much faster off the line, it was ridiculous. So when we put the test gear on them and did some proper timed runs it was no surprise that the Ducati was almost two seconds faster to 100mph.
But as we carried on past three figures, up through 120mph and 130mph and eventually on towards 150mph, something weird began to happen. At about 115mph I became aware that Chris and the Ducati were no longer pulling away. And by 130-135mph I had begun to reel them back in, rapidly.
So although the Ducati was still physically ahead on the road by the time we reached 150mph, the Audi had actually taken less time to get there (always a bit of a brain bender, that one). And under brakes it was always going to win – because cars stop faster than bikes, no arguments basically.
Which just left the transition period between full acceleration and full braking to separate them. The Audi was always going to require a bit more time to make the transition because it weighs nearly six times more than the Duke, but it did have a fair bit of time in its tank in the first place. Plus, stamping on a brake pedal in a car is much easier to do accurately than nailing the brakes under full acceleration on a bike that’s being buffeted by the wind at 150mph.
In the end it was ridiculously close, but... well you can look at the data yourselves to see just how close it was.
I’m sure the biking boys and girls will go berserk and accuse us of inventing a test in which we knew that the bike would lose, but I can promise you; no such pre-empting took place. Even the eminently amiable Chris from Superbike was surprised at the overall result.
Until he got his BMW HP4 out of the back of the truck, that is, and made the Audi and the Duke look like children’s toys, more on which in weeks to come.
In the meantime I hope you enjoy the video, and here are the stats and those data figures in full to digest.
Ducati Diavel (carbon version)
Price £16,750; Engine 1198cc, 2 cyls 90 degree v-twin, Power 162bhp at 9500rpm; Torque 94lb ft at 8000rpm; Kerb weight 234kg; Power-to-weight 692bhp/tonne; Traction ABS, 8-stage traction control; Gearbox 6-speed manual gearbox; Tyre 240 section rear
Audi R8 V10 plus S-Tronic
Price £127,575; Engine 5204cc, V10; Power 542bhp at 8000rpm; Torque 398lb ft at 6500rpm; Weight 1595kg; Power-to-weight 340bhp/tonne; Traction ABS, traction control, 4WD; Gearbox 7-speed dual clutch gearbox, Tyre 295 section rear
0-30mph – Ducati 1.37sec, Audi 1.69sec
0-60mph – Ducati 3.02sec, Audi 3.56sec
0-100mph – Ducati 6.04sec, Audi 7.64sec
0-150mph – Ducati 18.24sec, Audi 17.46sec
150-0mph – Ducati 7.09sec, Audi 6.88sec
0-150-0mph Ducati 25.70sec, Audi 25.59sec (best overall times recorded by each during three separate runs)