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Home Racing Petrol Vs Diesel Racing Cars: What Fares Better?

Petrol Vs Diesel Racing Cars: What Fares Better?

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So, petrol vs diesel, which one wins the race?  

The short answer: The faster car wins the race. Most people would say petrol will always win the race. That’s not entirely true. A diesel engine equipped race car would always win against a conventional petrol car in the same manner as a fast petrol car wins over a slow diesel vehicle.

Petrol Vs. Diesel Racing Cars: What Fares Better?
Petrol Vs. Diesel Racing Cars: What Fares Better?

But let’s say both cars were evenly matched with petrol vs diesel fuel being the only difference. Which one would win then? On the basis of fuel alone, a diesel would win at the starting line with its faster acceleration rate but would eventually give way to the petrol race car’s ability to efficiently burn fuel towards the finish line.

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In an endurance race, positions will change again as diesel has more longevity the longer the race goes. So yeah, this is highly suspect. And it all falls unto driver skill and type of race entered plus modifications made to the car.

The bottom line is that there are many factors that dictate the outcome of any race. It’s not just about petrol vs diesel. Sooner or later, this debate may not even prove relevant. Sooner or later, these two types of fuel might even fall behind the emergence of electric cars on the race track.

Related Article: Do Sports Cars Really Need Premium Gas?

The Basics On Petrol And Diesel Fuel

Petrol or gasoline is used as a fuel in spark-ignited internal combustion engines. This is a highly flammable fuel that makes it the best type for racing for its high combustion rate.

Petrol is measured by octane rating. The higher the octane rating, the more compression it can withstand before igniting. This is important for race cars because of the high compression present. Most cars can handle 87 octane rating, race cars on the other hand upwards of 110 to 116.

This will require an engine that can handle such high octane ratings.

Diesel, on the other hand, is not normally preferred as a racing fuel. This is due to the weight of the engine and fuel as compared to petrol. However it does have a following especially in endurance races and off-road events.

One cool thing about diesel though is that it does not require a spark to ignite. The air and fuel is mixed outside the combustion chamber in the inlet port leading to “faster” ignition. The higher compression ratio is important because it also needs a higher temperature or flash point to ignite.

This is why the compression ratio in diesel engines is 22:1 while it is 8:1 to 9:1 in petrol engines.

Needless to say, you will need a heavier engine for diesel because it requires a denser material in its basic construction.

Why Racers Prefer Petrol Race Cars

Although diesel engines have changed, petrol race cars are still the preferred mode of vehicle by racers simply because they are more responsive. There is a more satisfying petrol cars evoke when you step on the accelerator and hear the revs and see the meter reach the red line.

For shorter races, diesel engines work best. Extended races can also benefit from the fuel economy diesel engines afford. But for all other types of races, your petrol race car will out win the diesel variant anytime.

Petrol is also cheaper. This means you can put in more practice time to improve your skills on the race track. You’ll have a consistent mileage and fuel efficiency with petrol for as long as there is even elevation and you have the car fully under your control.

As an amateur racer, I find it more fun to run a petrol race car than a diesel. Both have their shining moments but on the race track, petrol race cars run best. Off the beaten track and on longer rides, I get the diesel engine equipped car out.

Performance Comparison

When it comes to petrol vs diesel race car performance, diesel cars will get you off the starting line faster. This faster acceleration rate is owed to the fact that diesel engines have a higher compression ratio and torque. The downside to this is that this torque is spread over a small area. That results in a smaller power band.

This can be counteracted by employing a turbocharger for fuel efficiency. Pressing on the accelerator will activate the turbocharger. This is not instantaneous though, there is a delay until the turbo kicks in. this is when you need to change gear to take advantage of the turbo.

In petrol race cars, power builds in relation to your rev. This means you have more usable power for the same duration of time as a diesel. There is no feeling of a delay in the power delivery as that in a diesel.

So, to sum this all up: a diesel race car has more torque available at lower revs. This means you can change gears earlier and have a more “relaxing” drive the longer the race takes. For a more “exciting” time, you’ll get that with a petrol race car tuned for high performance.

Does this make the diesel race car slower? No. this is still dependent on the type of race you enter in and the skill of the driver. Add the condition of the car and engine and the quality of the fuel and that will decide who reaches the finish line first.

Race Comparison

Ok, so now let’s get back to the debate of which wins in the petrol vs diesel race car debate with equally capable cars sitting on the starting line. We’ve already established that there is no clear-cut way to decide who wins simply by the fuel they use. So let’s go through each type of race and how petrol vs diesel race cars perform in each one.

Acceleration Race/ Short Drag

The diesel engine wins this race thanks to its lower rev and quicker acceleration from the starting point. The only problem with this is sustainability. Although the petrol race car will have a slight disadvantage at the start, it will catch up and go faster towards the end of the line.

The only thing that can affect this is the distance between the start and the finish line, and the driver’s instincts and reflexes.

Quarter Mile

The petrol race car will win this one based on the distance it takes to cross from the starting line to the finish. The diesel car might have an advantage at the start but the problem is when the turbocharger kicks in and sustainability of power.

The petrol car will continue to rev through until it uses the power band available which will give it an advantage near the middle of the race towards the finish.

Economy Run

The diesel car wins this one hands down for fuel economy and efficiency. Petrol cars are notorious for blowing through their fuel reservesdue to their high revving and peaky engines.

Endurance Run

Endurance Runs Can Include Short Off-Road Jaunts
Endurance Runs Can Include Short Off-Road Jaunts

Again, this is where the diesel race car wins the petrol vs diesel debate. Since diesel engines offer more fuel economy and efficiency, they’ll last longer in an extended race.

Lapped Race

Lapped Races Are The Most Popular Races Sparking The Petrol Vs Diesel Debate
Lapped Races Are The Most Popular Races Sparking The Petrol Vs Diesel Debate

If it’s a matter of who reaches the finish line first, the petrol wins. If it’s a matter of who has the higher probability of completing 10 laps without needing a pit stop for refueling, it’s the diesel.

Off-Road Racing

This type of race requires low revs. The diesel wins this one.

Once again, with equally capable cars on the same race track, the determining factor on who wins between petrol vs diesel lies in the driver’s skills, reflexes, and ability. Maybe a little luck but practice still makes perfect.

Electric Racing Cars Vs Internal Combustion Engines

Stepping outside the petrol vs diesel debate and into the realm of electric racing cars takes us to

If you’re still in denial, well, the electric revolution is coming and it’s coming fast!

It looks like internal combustion engines are going to have to evolve to remain relevant in this day and age or else.

One thing’s for sure, these races are definitely going to change the way we’ve come to enjoy it. You see, electric race cars are just as quiet as their conventional counterparts. Think about it, how would you like to watch a race that won’t require you to wear ear muffs to save your eardrums from getting damaged by the roar of race engines?

I doubt petrol vs diesel race cars are going to disappear soon or entirely. There will always be a race that caters to that crowd.

Who knows what the future brings?

What Other Things Can You Do To Ensure A Win?

Aside from using the right fuel, there are other things you can do to ensure a win on the race track. Whether you choose petrol vs diesel, these things can help you ensure a win.

Enter The Right Mind Set With The Right Gear

You can put any race car driver in any car and chances are they’ll win a straight out race against a slightly faster car. In the same way, you can put a novice into the fastest supercar and they’ll still lose to a conventional car driven by an expert.

What’s their secret?

Winning a race doesn’t necessarily depend on the car alone. The driver also matters.

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You have to conquer both body and mind in order to lead the pack. If you want to win the race, take control of your mind, improve your physical fitness, and make the necessary modifications to your car. With these three, you can win any race.

Improve Yourself And Win Those Races

Ok, so we’ve got the type of fuel down and which one to choose between petrol vs diesel racing cars. We’ve also talked about the gear you’ll need and other modifications that can make you go faster. Now, are you truly ready to take on the challenges of the race track?

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This is where the pros and the amateurs differ. You can have the fastest sports car in the world and still not win. Why does this happen? Well, you need to up your skills to really win that race.

Focus On The Mental Aspect Of The Game

Some people may not know this but racing is as much a mental game as chess. You need a sharp mind to read the road ahead and identify opportunities that you can exploit to get ahead. A small opening can widen if you position yourself properly between the cars ahead of you.

Positioning Is Everything
Positioning Is Everything

Mental toughness is necessary especially during long races. The drive to keep your focus

Mental toughness plays a huge part in your determination to finish with your initial goals intact.

The simple act of putting on a race suit and helmet can have a positive effect on you than driving in your normal every day clothes. These gear can help keep you safe and remove one less worry from your mind as you focus on more important things like shaving off those seconds from your final lap time.

Get In Right Shape For The Physical Aspect Of The Race

Race car drivers are athletes too. You need to be physically fit to drive race cars. Think about it, you’ll need a lot of strength to keep driving around those laps for extended periods of time without feeling worn out.

Going to the gym to improve your overall physical fitness is a good start. Focus on your core as you’ll need to depend a lot on that while you’re seated and trying to control your car through twists and turns. Lifting weights is also a good way to improve your upper body and arm strength. And don’t skip leg day. You’ll need muscles in your calves to keep your foot pressed onto the pedal with just the right amount of pressure all day.

You’ll also have to diet. Your weight affects the overall weight of the car. The added weight can lead to a win or loss. Plus, you don’t want to have a hard time with your ingress and egress since race cars have roll cages and are pretty much tight, enclosed spaces.

The right diet can help you cut down on weight, improve your body and core strength, and make hydration efficient for those long races.

Improve Your Car With The Right Modifications

You remember what they said about the faster car winning the race right? Well, this is your chance to do that.

To start, you should get the best car to race with. You can only go so far with making modifications but without the right car, you’ll only waste time trying to improve something that won’t assure a win. Now, you can’t go overboard with the modifications because there are guidelines as to what you can do to your car for the different race divisions.

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One thing all of these race divisions can agree on though, is that you can shave excess weight off, install race-specific seats, and equip the right tires.

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Improving your suspension and installing large tires is a good way to improve handling and grip. With that perfect combination, you can effectively hug sharp turns and cut down on the distance traveled from the starting line to the checkered flag.

Power steering is optional as it adds weight to the entire system. It helps improve maneuverability but you won’t need it for straight-line races. So think long and hard before adding this component to your vehicle as the added weight can add to your overall lap-time

Listen to your engineers and consider their advice as they know how to improve a car so it maximizes its race potential. Taking note of the guidelines is a good way to ensure you don’t get disqualified because of a technicality.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Last but not least, you need to practice every chance you get. Racing takes passion and an endless wellspring of motivation. You need dedication to excel in the things you are passionate about.

Practice Makes Perfect
Practice Makes Perfect

You can have all of these things but if you don’t go through the motions of racing around the track, your improvement will only lie in the theoretical side. You need to put these theories in practice by getting behind the wheel and driving as fast as you can.

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Again, these things are only simple on the surface. While racing, you have to take note of the things you’re doing. If you have a support team, they’ll also be able to pick up on things you need to improve by observing you as you drive around the track and taking down notes.

After each lap, review your progress and listen to your coaches’ recommendations.

Your improvement won’t come overnight. Don’t lose hope. As long as you keep practicing and making an effort in improving through your observations and the recommendations of your team, you’ll soon be able to see a remarkable change in your lap time scores.

Other Things To Consider

Don’t have your driver’s license yet? You can still practice as long as you have your P plates. You will have to sign a special release form and race at a regulated pace with closer monitoring. This can be lifted or eased up depending on your performance.

Here’s an article related to that: Can P Platers Drive Sports Cars?

And before we end this article, never race on the road. This is highly illegal and getting caught could lead to a permanent suspension of your driver’s license. It’s also not worth the risk of endangering others on the road just so you can have your adrenaline fix.

Here’s why you should never race on the highway: Can Race Cars Be Driven On The Highway? The Law Explained

If you want to race, do it on the racetrack. You can go faster than and won’t need to slow down every now and then because there’s an obstacle up ahead.

Conclusion

To end this petrol vs diesel racing cars debate, it all boils down to the faster car and the better driver. You can’t pinpoint the reason for winning solely on the type of fuel used. That’s just one component to a deceptively simple looking vehicle with complex inner workings.

But, if we base it on petrol vs diesel, each one has its pros and cons. One can win over the other depending on the present conditions and length of the race. So which one fares better?

Ultimately you will be the one to decide this based on the type of racing event you enter. Don’t let the petrol vs diesel debate limit your ability to win.

 

Related Questions

Can Race Cars Go In Reverse?

Yes. Although we’ve only seen race cars go forward at blazing high speeds very few have seen race cars go in reverse. The preferred method to back cars out of trailers or their parking spaces is by towing it. This saves the engine from being used before the actual race.

Manual or Automatic Racing Cars: What Pros Prefer?

This depends on the type of race. Short courses prefer manual for a quick progression between gears while long types of races prefer to focus on steering and maneuvering instead of changing gears. So choose the one that serves you best in the type of race you enter in.

What Are Those Xs Installed On Race Car Headlights??

Race car drivers used to tape their headlights to prevent them from getting damaged by flying debris while racing. This was before indestructible plastic headlight housings came into existence. This practice finally became obsolete and now only serves an aesthetic purpose for race car enthusiasts when body molds became common place.Here’s a related article about this practice: Ever Wonder Why Race Cars Tape Headlights?

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