Story: Mat Durrans
Pics: Meghan McCabe
I’ve got my Poker face on, Brenwin is strutting around like a man who knows his moment of glory is about to arrive. I’m trying to portray how little I’m impressed by his Japanese hatchback, but having just witnessed a practice launch, the suntanned Datsun has got me just a little worried.
The GT-R surges off the line amid a cacophony of screeching tyres, whistling turbos and a solid background roar from its raucous V6. No doubt about it, this is a car that looks as fast as a bike.
I quieten my nerves with a bit of cold, hard logic. No way I’m going to lose because a bike is essentially an engine with some wheels and a seat, and that means weight is always on my side. Brenwin may have more than 500hp at his disposal, but it comes in a package that tips the scales at the two-tonnes mark.
I’m using Suzuki’s Hayabusa for this head-to-head, it may be a tad porky and bereft of any clever electronics, but it has a stable chassis and a huge 1340cc in-line four-cylinder motor that generates torque like a runaway steam turbine.
As the flag drops I feed in the clutch at about 5 000rpm and the Hayabusa digs in, slams me into the seat hump and immediately jumps into a lead. There’s plenty of room for me to get tucked in and concentrate on perfecting the two gear changes I need to pass the 400 metre line maxed-out in third gear.
It’s a clear, if not actually humiliating, thrashing of the car. Smugness begins to flood through my every pore, I attempt a fleeting impersonation of a gracious victor before reverting to character and gloating like a child with the last sweet in the packet.
Brenwin comes out with an impressive list of excuses, one of which blames me for bringing the wrong bike. The GT-R can handle corners even better than the straight bits, yet my Hayabusa can’t. No worries, I have a particularly exclusive Ace up my leather sleeve: the 2017 Suzuki GSX-R 1000.
Much cajoling, bribing and calling-in of two decades’ worth of favors wangles me the first South African ride of Suzuki’s new flagship sport bike. I get one practice run and then it’s straight into the race. I glance over at Brenwin and he’s still smiling, but I know that in just over ten seconds that smirk will be replaced by a frown that will stay with him for days.
The GSX-R is a small, lightweight sport bike designed for fast laps and it’s powered by a 200hp, 999cc four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing. It’s a heavily MotoGP inspired machine and by all rights it should be an awkward, wheelying, lurching pig of a thing to get off the line.
But it isn’t. Some magical engineering that has increased stability without compromising agility means I get a good start and the GSX-R proceeds to disappear even further into the distance than the Hayabusa.
Oh dear; I abandon any pretense of gentlemanly conduct and go straight to the gratuitous abuse. If Brenwin wants a car to take it to the bikes, I suspect he’ll have to use his imagination. As he shuffled off into the distance, I did hear him muttering something about a limousine. Sounds like he’s on the right track…
If you would like to see The Bike Show’s TV coverage of the event, click here.
Story courtesy of the Sunday Times newspaper