I got my 'Car vs. Bike Smackdown' magazine. The debate RAGES across the internet. Kevin Schwantz both rode the '02 GSX-R1000 and drove the '02 Vette Z06--he's got excellent credentials for both jobs. Both were fully broken in and stock except for the stickier tires they put on the Z06. It was obvious the bike easily had the straight-line performance, and it had a THREE second advantage in the quarter (that's a football field and a half), as well as the top speed advantage (177 -vs- 168). But the Z06 is one of the best-handling production cars ever made (and the deal of the century as far as performance goes) and gets around a road course quicker than almost anything. Would the bike stand a chance against a world class car with four massive DOT race tires and downforce?
So they took them to Willow Springs (but not Streets of Willow, which is somewhat tighter and more technical overall). They turned off the traction control and active handling on the Vette (which are nice things for amateurs or on the street in poor conditions but only hurt times on a racetrack) and adjusted the Gixxer's suspension to suit Schwantz. They used data acquisition stuff that shows exactly what each vehicle was doing at each part of the track. They printed a chart showing the plot of each vehicle's speed at each part of the track--the straights, the turns, etc. The Gixxer not only had much faster speeds on the straights, but usually braked later AND carried more speed on every corner. Final best times for the 9 turn, 2.5 mile track were 1:26.6 for the bike and 1:34.2 for the car. That means in a 37 lap race (about normal), the car and the bike would cross the finish line at about the same time, except the bike would have completed 37 laps and the car would be 3 behind at 34 laps.
Alot of the car guys are claiming that a turbo- or super-charged Vette or a bored and stroked one would have had the better times, but a faster car would have been braking earlier and carrying roughly the same apex speed, and might have had a rougher time with throttle control and traction. More downforce would certainly make a difference (it is the reason Formula one cars can drive upside down on the ceiling and have the best lap times on earth). More could have been done for the bike: rearsets, a high mount race pipe, K&Ns, FI/ignition tuning, stickier and more triangular-profile tires than stock, a reworked shock, removing a little excess weight, short stacks and race cams, carbon fiber bodywork, Marchesini wheels, wave rotors, carbon brake pads, etc. All that and you'd still be well under half the price of the car.
Good article though. It's the kind of thing that will be referred to years from now. People still reference the '90 FZR1K vs. ZR-1, the '97 Viper vs. ThunderAce, the ZX-9R vs. a bunch of cars in the 0-100-0, etc. And the big Gixxer is a great bike, although it's possible the Vette would close the margin considerably at Streets of Willow where a smaller bike would be better suited. And the *average* driver or rider, who would get considerably worse times than Schwantz got on either, will probably do better in the car, especially on real world twisty roads like Deal's Gap where there are more obstacles and the roads aren't always clean or in ideal condition. It still proves that for outright performance and heart-stopping exhiliration, for the money, a bike can't be beaten, and that the logical thing to do would be to buy a good Honda Civic and a good superbike. Best (better) of both worlds, and half the cost. Of course, buying your dream car, something that gives you an emotional response every time you get in it, has little to do with logic.