Racepak G2X Data Analysis
As per our usual modus operandi, a data acquisition pouch was mounted to each bike for Kento's flying laps, recording lap times, speed and throttle position. Using GPS allows the track to be accurately broken down into many segments, and the system's software tracks speed and time for each segment as shown below. These segments are laid out identically to those used for our earlier literbike shootout and (aside from the Turn 2-3 segment) the same as used in our middleweight smackdown.
Turn 2-3 Segment Time
Ducati: 14.06 sec.
Honda: 13.78 sec.
Suzuki: 13.87 sec.
This section, taken at 90-plus mph, consists of a right-left combination that taxes outright grip and rewards high-speed steering quickness. The Honda pulls out almost a 10th of a second on the Suzuki in this section-and almost a quarter-second on the Ducati-thanks to its nimbleness. While the Suzuki makes up some ground on the short chutes between each corner, the Honda maintains more corner speed throughout; the Ducati, meanwhile, loses time and speed with each transition.
Turn 4 Segment Time and Minimum Speed
Ducati: 6.38 sec., 59.6 mph
Honda: 6.28 sec., 61.0 mph
Suzuki: 6.23 sec., 61.1 mph
The exit of Turn 3 leads uphill to the blind right-hander that has its apex right at the crest. Front-end feel and feedback is at a premium here, and it's all too easy to drift off-line and scatter a bike off the other side of the peak. The GSX-R gains time with faster entry and exit speeds but is no quicker than the CBR through much of the turn. The 1098 more than holds its own, but a bobble on this particular lap heading down the hill leads Kento to chop the throttle, costing valuable time.
Turn 6 Entrance Speed, Segment Time and Exit Speed
Ducati: 81.5 mph, 10.31 sec., 76.1 mph
Honda: 84.1 mph, 10.30 sec., 80.7 mph
Suzuki: 78.6 mph, 10.32 sec., 78.7 mph
This double-apex sweeper has the bikes heeled over at max lean for more than a few seconds, as Kento struggles for grip over patches and sealer throughout. The Honda's quick steering and controlled chassis allow it to blaze in deep on the brakes and power out earlier and with more speed than even the GSX-R1000, yet the GPS shows it running wide in mid-corner. Even with the higher entry and exit speeds, the Honda is no quicker through the turn than either of the other bikes; segment times through here are a draw.
Chicane Segment Time And Exit speed
Ducati: 7.02 sec., 110.9 mph
Honda: 7.17 sec., 109.0 mph
Suzuki: 6.99 sec., 110.7 mph
The exit of looping Turn 6 leads into a left-right-left chicane (labeled Turn 7 on the diagram and chart) that calls for acceleration through the first portion, then a section of braking and another turn of acceleration. It's a tricky section, but flicking from side to side under power is the key to getting through quickly. The CBR enters with big speed but can't accelerate as fast as the GSX-R or 1098S and loses significant ground to both bikes. It's practically a tie between the Ducati and the heavier Suzuki in this section, with the GSX-R's extra power offset by its porkiness and heavier steering under power.
Turn 8 Segment Time
Ducati: 5.09 sec.
Honda: 5.00 sec.
Suzuki: 4.99 sec.
Turn 8 is a slightly cambered 90-degree left hander that shows handling in a simple straight-turn-straight scenario. Kento appears to brake conservatively on the 1098, but ends up going deeper on the binders and maintaining a high apex speed. The GSX-R, with the lowest apex speed, rockets onto the next straight to still record the quickest segment time, but virtually identical to the CBR's split.
Dunlop N-Tec Tires
For our Buttonwillow track day, we fit each bike with Dunlop's Sportmax GP tires, using the N-Tec rear for the first time. Finally offered to the general racing public earlier this year in both slick and DOT forms, the new tire is a significant change from the previous Sportmax GP rear. Previously, the huge 190/60 was enough of a change in size alone from stock tires to require setup changes, and-adding to that-the tire grew in diameter significantly at speed, further affecting handling.
The new tire is available in a more standard 190/55 size, and an additional circumferential belt controls growth at speed, providing more stable and consistent handling. We used the 190/55 on all three bikes-even the CBR600RR, which comes standard with a 180/55-and encountered none of the troubles we had in our previous experiences with the Sportmax GPs. On the Honda and Suzuki, we made no significant suspension changes from the street-tire settings, but on the Ducati, which comes standard with a 190/55 rear tire, we raised the rear ride height by one turn to account for the profile of the front Sportmax (this change is not reflected in the suggested suspension settings).
In blazing-hot temperatures, the Dunlops provided remarkably consistent traction over the course of the day, and we were amazed by the level of grip offered. Overall, we were impressed by the new tire's performance and can see why the company's racers have been raving about the N-Tec technology since it was first introduced in 2004.
Both the Ducati and Suzuki ran up against their rev limiters early in top speed runs conducted at Honda's Proving Center of California. The 1098S has ridiculously short overall gearing, while the GSX-R is treading on Hayabusa and ZX-14 territory thanks to the gentleman's agreement limiting top speed to 186mph-theoretically the 1000 could go almost 10 mph faster at redline.
Ducati 1098S: 173.3 mph (limited)
Honda CBR600RR: 159.8 mph
Suzuki GSX-R1000: 184.3 mph (limited)