MISSING THE APEX?

Neil Silke, via email

Thanks for another great BFYB comparison.

When I worked in engineering at Fishermans Bend my favourite car to take home was always a manual Commodore SS Ute, so it was nice to see it take home the $0-$50K gong in its final year. I was a little surprised at the comment: “who cares that it can’t carry the same apex speeds as some other cars here”.

Books like Drive To Win by Carroll Smith state a rule that “the faster the car, the later the apex”. Taking the later apex means you have to slow the car down earlier and turn it sharper (tighter radius), which results in a slower minimum speed, but the pay back is in accelerating earlier.

In contrast, an underpowered car will take a more constant (and larger) radius, which it must because you can’t afford to wash off any speed. Supporting this, the Polo GTI was slower for acceleration, but faster for both apex speeds.

Apex speeds are very misleading so perhaps you can find a better metric, such as skid pad g-forces. Slaloms are okay, but they penalise wide cars because they have to take a different path to fit between the witches hats (also true on a tight corner, and the Ute was the widest car in the comparison?).

And please, after the big bucks comparison don’t pull the Polo GTI, out of no where, from your fundamental orifice as the overall winner like last year.

Cheers for your feedback regarding BFYB, Neil. However, the impressive dual character of the SS Ute means that it can hit an apex, or drift right past it with endless opposite lock and in a haze of tyre smoke. As for the Polo, you’ll have to flick through the mag to see where it placed, however, against the BFYB criteria, it was a deserving winner in 2016. It certainly didn’t happen by chance.