LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 13: 100m sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis tests his acceleration against a BMW 320d 'EfficientDynamics' from the London 2012 fleet as part of the BMW London 2012 Performance Series, on The Mall on May 13, 2012 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images for BMW)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 13: 100m sprinter Mark Lewis-Francis tests his acceleration against a BMW 320d 'EfficientDynamics' from the London 2012 fleet as part of the BMW London 2012 Performance Series, on The Mall on May 13, 2012 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images for BMW)

Olympic sprinter takes on BMW 320d

By Staff Reporter Time of article published May 15, 2012

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Who d'you think is quicker off the mark - an Olympic gold-medal sprinter or a BMW 320d?

Mark Lewis-Francis, who won an Olympic gold medal at Athens 2004 in the 4 x 100m relay, joined sports scientist Professor Greg Whyte at the Admiralty Arch in London on Monday to find out.

His acceleration, reaction time and speed were all recorded across three different distances as Lewis-Francis, competing on high-performance Mondo track, demonstrated the efficiencies of the human body.

Whyte said: “From the instant that the gun sounded up until four seconds Mark was, perhaps surprisingly, quicker than the BMW. Through looking at Mark's results and measuring how they compare to the BMW 320d we're able to put into context how well an Olympic sprinter accelerates.”

Lewis-Francis added: “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.”

“But I didn't expect to be able to outrun the BMW for so long!”

In order to determine the acceleration and measure the efficient conversion of energy to force of both Mark and the BMW, Prof Whyte examined similar principles and measures to BMW's vehicle engineers.

He explained: “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.

“It is how efficiently he is able to relay that response which allows him to pull away. Equally for the BMW, the reaction time of the driver is critical along with his ability to balance accelerator and clutch to achieve optimum wheel spin. And for that, the traction control must be switched off.”

POWER TO WEIGHT

“We looked at three particular aspects; the time it took for Mark and the BMW to travel their particular distances, their starting velocity and also their terminal velocity.

“Given Mark's better power-to-weight ratio, 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 more than 1G, making him quicker than the BMW for nearly 30 metres.

DISTANCE - BMW 320d - MARK LEWIS-FRANCIS

0-5m                    1.5                           1.333

0-10m                  2.3                           1.990

0-20m                  3.3                           3.137

0-30m                  4.0                           4.121

0-100m               7.5                         10.040

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