| 16th May 2012
We’ve already touched on the MINI E being part of the Olympic fleet – now it’s BMW’s turn to impress. With London 2012 just around the corner, sponsors are clamouring for attention as the Olympic celebrations get into full swing. The card BMW is playing is quite clever. They’re pitching one of their cars against Olympic gold medallist and BMW London 2012 Performance team member, Mark Lewis-Francis.
One of the company's new cars, the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics, is also part of the Olympic fleet. So, in the spirit of competition, BMW challenged Mark Lewis-Francis to a race. Well, not a race in the strictest sense... more of a test to compare the performance of a finely-tuned athlete against a car. The BMW 320d EfficientDynamics generates 68.9mpg fuel consumption and 109g/km CO2 emissions whilst reaching 0-62mph in 8 seconds. Mark Lewis-Francis generates blood, sweat and tears.
And in the Left Corner...
The 320d has an impressive pedigree, but it doesn’t have shiny muscles and tight shorts. How would it compare against a human at the peak of his talents? Sports scientist Professor Greg Whyte was on-hand to help evaluate the tests, which took place at The Mall in London last Sunday. Mark’s acceleration, reaction time and speed were all recorded across three different distances on a high-performance Mondo track. Mark has previously won an Olympic gold medal at Athens 2004 in the 4 x 100m relay. The BMW's test results were recorded in Munich.
Over to Professor Whyte in the Studio
“As a professional athlete Mark is adept at sprinting from a starting gun and we are able to measure his reaction time from the moment the gun sounds to the point he explodes from the blocks. Along with other factors, it is how efficiently he is able to relay that response which allows him to pull away.
“Equally for the BMW – whilst the vehicle can make available the maximum propelling force limited only through the traction of the tyres – the reaction time of the driver is critical along with his ability to appropriately apportion the accelerator and clutch to achieve optimum wheel slip. To achieve this, the traction control must be switched off.
“In measuring the rate of acceleration we looked at three particular aspects; the time it took for Mark and the BMW to travel their particular distances, the starting velocity of Mark and the BMW, and also the finishing velocity. Given the greater power to weight ratio that Mark has, he is able to accelerate very rapidly over short distances. This, together with resistance against the starting blocks enables him to achieve a starting acceleration of over 1G making him quicker than the BMW for just under 30 metres, until the point when then the sustained acceleration of the car consumes his head start."
So, how did Mark Lewis-Francis do?
Very well indeed, actually! He was much quicker than the new BMW in short-distance tests, oh-so slightly over time in the 0-30m evaluation and just under three seconds slower across 100m. Take a look at the results below:
BMW 320d EfficientDynamics (Manual) (sec)
Mark Lewis-Francis (sec)
Post-Match Press Conference
Mark Lewis-Francis was jubilant, and aimed a sharp dig at his bruised and battered opponent. “It was an amazing experience to take part in such a unique event in a world-renowned London location and it all adds to excitement of London 2012. People regularly ask me to explain how I can run so fast and what the crucial elements of our technique really are. Today has shown just how important those small efficiencies are and how they equally relate to engineering in cars. I did not expect to be able to outrun the BMW for so long!"
Prof. Whyte gave his expert, independent analysis amidst the flash of baying photographers. “From the split second that the gun sounded up until 4 seconds Mark was, perhaps surprisingly, quicker than the BMW. Through looking at Mark’s results and measuring how they compare to the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics we’re able to put into context how well an Olympic sprinter accelerates."
Sporting a bloody nose and with nowhere to hide, Bernd Andritzky, BMW engineer for vehicle evaluation, commented: “Today’s experiment articulates what we are constantly reviewing in the engineering of our cars, in a way that everyone can relate to – especially in an Olympic year. EfficientDynamics is at the heart of our engineering philosophy and it is through this that we are also supporting London 2012 through the provision of a fleet that has achieved all of LOCOG’s requirements."
This was easily one of the more interesting sponsor-driven press events in the build up to the games (better than the Dairy Milk promos, in our opinion), and we wish both Mark Lewis-Francis and BMW the best of luck during London 2012.
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