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Runner versus car


Man versus machine

Is that a fair comparison? The Encounter Technology Magazine uses an unusual sprint test to conduct this – not entirely serious – analysis. This calls for excellent response times, a fast start and plenty of power. Who will win in a head-to-head over 60 meters.

Man versus machine
Unequal pairing – runner Julian Reus goes head-to-head with DTM driver Miguel Molina in the Audi S5 Cabriolet.

You might normally expect to find him on the track at Brands Hatch or the Hockenheimring. But today, Miguel Molina is entering unfamiliar territory; instead of an asphalt race track, the Audi DTM driver is putting his driving skills to the test on the running track at a sports ground. His machine is an Audi S5 Cabriolet with 245 kW (333 hp).


The opponent is not just anyone; he is currently Germany’s fastest man. At the start of July, Julian Reus comfortably won over both sprint distances at the German Athletics Championships in Ulm. With 10.4 seconds over 100 meters, he was faster than any man before him at the national level. And over 200 meters, too, he achieved  world championship standards with a time of 20.36 seconds.


It can therefore come as no surprise that the 25 yearold is pretty confident about this head-to-head. Ahead of the race, he explains the reasoning behind his certainty thus: “Because of the wet track and my lower weight, I would surely have to be a good deal faster after the start.” He goes on to predict that “I will be in front after the first 30 meters.” A body mass of 76 kilograms versus 1,955 kilograms of steel and aluminum, plastic and glass.

Men versus machine
Starting shot – the unusual competition over 60 meters begins.

“On your marks …”

Julian Reus presses his fingertips to the red asphalt, his feet clad in blue running shoes pushing firmly against the starting blocks – the classic starting position for a sprinter. DTM driver Miguel Molina, on the other hand, sits in his Audi S5 Cabriolet, his right foot resting against the gas pedal, his hands gripping the steering wheel. The track is wet with rain.


“… get set …”
Julian Reus stretches his arms and pushes himself from the ground. Every muscle in his body is taut. Miguel Molina, too, focuses his entire concentration on the start signal, his eyes fixed on the finish line 60 meters in front.


… go!”
The starting shot fired by the referee echoes around the sports ground. Julian Reus springs from the starting blocks like an arrow from a stretched bow. The engine of the Audi S5 howls. But before the wheels of the red sports car are able to move even a millimeter, the sprinter has already secured a lead.

Man versus machine
Man versus machine
Tight finish – not until just before the finish line does the Audi S5 Cabriolet overtake the athlete.
Man versus machine
Elite athletes – Julian Reus (left) and Miguel Molina.

The forecast made by Julian Reus ahead of the race seems to have been correct. The sprinter covers almost 11 meters per second, bringing him to a top speed of around 40 km/h. He set his personal best of 10.09 seconds over 100 meters in 2012 in searing sunshine and 35-degree heat. Isn’t that far to hot for that kind of physical performance? “No, it’s much like a car that first has to reach operating temperature,” explains the athlete. “The warmer the outside temperature, the more mobile the bones.”


High performance under extreme heat is something with which Miguel Molina is also familiar. As a DTM driver, he loses around two kilograms of body weight during a race. This is due to the high temperatures inside the race car. “After just a couple of laps, it can reach up to 60 degrees in there,” explains the Spaniard, “which is why I drink at least a liter of water during the race.” The fluid is fed into his helmet via a tube. After all, his hands have to remain on the steering wheel at all times during the race.


In this unconventional race today between the two sportsmen, Julian Reus has achieved a substantial lead of 20 meters on account of his explosive start. But the Audi S5 driven by Miguel Molina is beginning to pick up speed. The quattro drive is now delivering traction on the wet surface. The car catches up. Just before the finish line, for the blink of an eye, the unequal opponents seem to be level, neck-and-hood.

When both of them cross the line, the time board lights up. “6.34 seconds – that would  be a new world record,” shouts Julian Reus as he gasps for air, his arms propped on his thighs and, despite all the exertion, a big smile on his face. A few meters further ahead, the red cabriolet comes to a halt. Miguel Molina is also visibly surprised, “After that start, I really thought for a moment that I wasn’t going to catch up,” he admits.


The comparison between man and machine over the sprint distance was incredibly close – the Audi S5 Cabriolet prevailed, but was just 35 thousandths of a second ahead of the athlete over 60 meters. “I take my hat off to Julian’s performance,” says Miguel Molina. The two sportsmen give each other high fives; pat each other on the shoulder. Both had obviously enjoyed the unusual experiment. “A funny idea,” says Julian Reus. “A run like that is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”



Source: Encounter - The Audi Technology Magazine 02/2013

Text: Stefanie Kern, Hanna van der Velden

Photos: Manfred Jarisch


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