Olympic gold medallist Mark Lewis-Francis puts his acceleration to the test with BMW

london 2012

London, 14 May 2012: Olympic gold medallist and BMW London 2012 Performance team member Mark Lewis-Francis joined sports scientist Professor Greg Whyte on The Mall in London yesterday to investigate the parallels between the acceleration of a world class sprinter and a BMW.

Mark was pitted against a BMW 320d EfficientDynamics – a vehicle being used within the BMW London 2012 Olympic fleet – in a series of sprint tests set against the iconic Admiralty Arch. His acceleration, reaction time and speed were all recorded across three different distances as Mark, competing on high-performance Mondo track, demonstrated the efficiencies of the human body.

Prof Whyte explained: “From the split second that the gun sounded up until 4 seconds Mark was, perhaps surprisingly, quicker than the BMW. Through looking at Mark’s results and measuring how they compare to the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics we’re able to put into context how well an Olympic sprinter accelerates.”

Olympics BMW

Mark Lewis Francis, who won an Olympic gold medal at Athens 2004 in the 4 x 100m relay, said: “It was an amazing experience to take part in such a unique event in a world-renowned London location and it all adds to excitement of London 2012. 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. I did not expect to be able to outrun the BMW for so long!”

Being tested alongside Mark was the class-leading BMW 320d EfficientDynamics. Playing crucial operational roles within the Olympic fleet – including the command car for the Olympic Torch Relay – the BMW 320d EfficientDynamics generates an outstanding 68.9mpg fuel consumption and just 109g/km CO2 emissions whilst delivering an impressive 0-62mph performance of 8.0 seconds.

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. Prof Whyte explains:

Reaction Time

“As a professional athlete 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. Along with other factors, it is how efficiently he is able to relay that response which allows him to pull away. Equally for the BMW – whilst the vehicle can make available the maximum propelling force limited only through the traction of the tyres – the reaction time of the driver is critical along with his ability to appropriately apportion the accelerator and clutch to achieve optimum wheel slip. To achieve this, the traction control must be switched off.”


“In measuring the rate of acceleration we looked at three particular aspects; the time it took for Mark and the BMW to travel their particular distances, the starting velocity of Mark and the BMW, and also the finishing velocity. Given the greater power to weight ratio that Mark has, 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 over 1G making him quicker than the BMW for just under 30 metres, until the point when then the sustained acceleration of the car consumes his head start.”

BMW 320d EfficientDynamics [Manual] [sec]* Mark Lewis-Francis [sec]
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 10.04

*Data from test results in Munich

Bernd Andritzky, BMW engineer for vehicle evaluation, commented: “Today’s experiment articulates what we are constantly reviewing in the engineering of our cars, in a way that everyone can relate to – especially in an Olympic year.  EfficientDynamics is at the heart of our engineering philosophy and it is through this that we are also supporting London 2012 through the provision of a fleet that has achieved all of LOCOG’s requirements.”

Chosen by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) as the Official Automotive Partner, BMW’s sustainability credentials will help LOCOG deliver a sustainable Olympic and Paralympic Games. BMW Group recently unveiled details of the London 2012 fleet; a diverse fleet of cars, bikes and motorcycles that will be performing a wide range of duties throughout the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games. The fleet average of 116g/kmCO2 emissions actually surpasses the 120g/km target set by the Organising Committee.