Cars

Ultimate drag race showdown: BMW, Porsche, Ferrari and more

Litchfield’s gaffer, Iain Litchfield, has to worry less about wheelies and more about the drivetrain. On his first go, the ECU, it turns out, is set up to give more turbo boost the longer you hold launch control and, after a too-long pause for the lights to change, it lunches a driveshaft. Litchfield thought it might, so he has brought a spare.

Half an hour later he has swapped it and is ready to go again.

With the GT-R’s torque limited to save the transmission, the bike gets away narrowly ahead, but when the car shifts into fourth gear, torque becomes unlimited and it spins up all four wheels. Which is quite a sight, although not one Lintin sees, because he’s still ahead. At the quarter mile, the bike nips it, but the GT-R – 10.3sec at around 170mph for the standing quarter – is gaining.

Race two – Ferrari 458 Speciale versus Nissan GT-R and McLaren 650S

Two unusual things here: we found a standard Nissan GT- R and an owner of a Ferrari 458 Speciale who was prepared to give it the absolute beans down a runway. All three cars have launch control and, by gum, all three were prepared to take advantage of it.

On paper, the 641bhp McLaren should have the measure of both the 542bhp GT-R and the 597bhp Speciale, but it’s the Nissan that gets off the line first — probably no surprise, given that it has four-wheel drive and the others, despite their engines being in the middle, do not.

Of the supercars, the McLaren gets away better, thanks to some turbocharged oomph, and it stays that way. In fact, it doesn’t just get away better than the Ferrari; the McLaren quickly overhauls the GT-R, too.

At the line, which the McLaren crosses 10.8sec after getting away, it’s holding a half-second advantage over the other two, which finish more or less together, both at a little over 11sec. The GT-R is a touch ahead and travelling at 124mph, but just another few yards and the Speciale would have had second.

Race three – Ariel Atom 3.5 R versus Rallycross Citroën DS3 and race bike

This is one of those that only ended up going one way. We enlisted ‘Big Jim’ from upstairs at work, who has recently spent some savings and a PPI payout on going motor racing on a 1998 Yamaha R1 superbike. He hopes to take it to the TT within a couple of years.

Trouble is, it isn’t set up for standing starts, and an Ariel Atom 3.5R, with a supercharged Honda engine making over 300bhp and a sequential gearbox with pneumatic shifts, pretty much is. It’ll do 0-60mph in around 3.0sec dead on RAF Alconbury’s concrete runway.

Even that, next to Liam Doran’s FIA World Rallycross car, is tardy. His Citroën DS3 – with the best part of 600bhp, four-wheel drive and launch control – hits 60mph in less than 2.0sec.

The explosive start gives Doran an advantage that the other two – Ariel second and Big Jim third – can’t quite overhaul. But Jim is having the time of his life anyway.

Race four – Porsche 911 Turbo S versus Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and Nissan GT-R

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