I must admit, I bought GT4 mostly for the Le Mans "prototype" race cars. Sure, I love racing any class of car in GT4 as long as the AI field can put up a real fight, but for me, the exotic endurance racers hold a special fascination.
That interest led me to conduct a bit of B-Spec testing to see which is the fastest of the lot of the mighty Group C, GT-1, and LMP cars. I B-Specced it so I could speed up the process, while also eliminating the variations in lap times that my erratic driving would create. I trust B-Spec Bob's consistency far more than mine.
I did the testing on Sarthe II (no chicanes), in the 24-hour enduro. No, I didn't put each car through an actual 24 hours. I ran each one for four hours exactly, recorded the laps completed (figuring out the percentage of the last lap it was on by how long it took to get back to the finish line on that lap and doing the math), then extrapolated what the total laps would be for 24 hours.
Obviously, this is not a dead-accurate test of these cars' performance. Various players' B-Spec pilots will get varying results from car to car. However, the results should serve to give us an idea of how these cars stack up against each other. If you don't have all them, and you haven't tested each one, then all you have to go by is varying opinions posted on forum threads asking "Which is the best car for the GT World Championship". Maybe this test will settle some arguments.
THE TEST SETUP:
Every car had stock suspension settings. They all had ASM turned off, and to improve rear tire life they had TCS settings of 7 on cars with less than 1100 HP, and 8 on cars over 1100 HP. Brake balance setting was either 4/1 or 4/2, once again to save the rears. All had Stage 4 power, and all had the "Increase Rigidity" (roll cage icon) option applied.
They all had their transmissions adjusted with the old "tranny trick": Final was slid full right to 5.000 (or 5.500), the Autoset was slid right to 25, then back full left to 1 and left there. The Final was then adjusted for the long, long Sarth II Mulsanne straight so that the red rev-limiter light flashed at the end.
I did some preliminary testing to get the correct final drive gear ratio and the best tire combination for each car. Almost all the cars had to pit for fuel at 7 laps, so I picked tire combos that would last that long.
I also checked to see how many cars Bob could drive error-free on the "4" (Fast) speed setting. As it turned out, only two cars had that advantage: The Audi R8 and the Bentley Speed 8 (which occasionally got slightly off the pavement, but not often). Why Bob could handle these cars at the faster setting, and not others, is a mystery. It may say more about the cars than the B-Spec driver, I would think. (Oddly, the '03 Pescarolo was faster on "3" than it was on "4". I have no idea why.)
All pit stops were "unattended". If you click OK when the pit stop dialogue box appears, the pit crew gets right to work. If you don't do anything, the crew stands there for four seconds before beginning. For the sake of consistency, I never clicked OK on any stop, with any car.
My B-Spec driver has 5,551 points, and his skills are 68/55/52. He had exactly those stats for each test, because during the course of the testing I never once "exited" and saved the game after a 4-hour test. Instead, I just turned off the power on the PS/2 after each session, which not only kept Bob from learning anything and increasing his skill levels from test to test, it also saved four hours of wear and tear on my very expensive Le Mans cars!
You'll see that one car is missing from this test: The Nissan R89C. That car I don't have because its the toughest one to get. You have to complete Mission 34 to win it, and I haven't pulled that off yet. If somebody out there has the car and would care to test it for us, we'd love to get your results. From what I see the AI doing with it, I'd say its slightly slower than the R92CP, but that's just a subjective guess.
Before I started each test I entered the race, checked to see what the AI field was, then exited and tried again if I didn't like my opponents. I specifically wanted two cars in the race to see how the test car did against them: The Sauber C9 and the Minolta Toyota. I also tried to get the R92CP in there as well. The best field I could get together was the C9, 88C-V, R92CP, R89C, and Jag XJR-9. It sometimes takes over 10 attempts for the program to give it to you. (Keep trying until the GT40 goes away. The game's developers have programmed that historic three-time Le Mans winner to make a full-stop spinout on every lap.)
Note that a few cars went eight laps between pit stops, while most went seven and one managed ten. Each stop costs you about 40 seconds, so the 8-lap cars would gain about a five-minute advantage in 24 hours. Note that the AI competitor versions almost all went 8 laps, which is really cheesy. How could they do it if our B-Spec drivers can't? Worst was the 787B, the AI version of which goes 9 laps between stops!
So here are my test results, starting with the slowest. Lap totals for exactly 4 hours are shown, with the extrapolated theoretical total for 24. The lap times are only what I observed, and mostly when the tires were showing a slightly greenish yellow color. Note that the best laps were always made early, with the car slowing progressively, although in some cases Bob apparently learned something and speeded up a little later on. It appears that lap times of 3:12 or better are necessary for a car to have a chance of winning the Sarth II 24-hour in B-Spec mode.
Gillet Vertigo -
Bob could not drive the Vertigo at all. He wildly overshot the Mulsanne Corner at the end of the straight (hitting the tire barrier very hard) on all settings including "1" (Slow Down) on every lap, so I packed it in after 18 laps. There was just no point in going any further. The last straw was when the car was hit by the turn-into-the-wall-on-the-straightaway glitch on lap 10, then again on lap 18 at the end of the straight, turning left instead of right and sliding along the wall. There is something very wrong with the Gillet in B-Spec mode, I'm afraid.
Ford GT40 -
65.49 laps in 4:00 (392.9 pace for 24). Lap 17: 3:30.8, Lap 48: 3:32.5, Lap 65: 3:33.3. Tires: R1/R2. Speed setting "2". Pit stop every 10 laps, 6 liters fuel left. 730 HP, 2.75 final drive ratio, 224 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished 7.2 laps behind the Sauber. Who knows why PD programmed this car to be so hard to drive, but Bob could not keep it on the road on "3". Only at "2" (Cruise) could he make mostly error-free laps, but even then he occasionally touched the dirt. Of course, this is nothing compared to what the AI does when the GT40 is in the field as one of your competitors: It makes a full-stop spinout on every lap, and often goes off the road four times in a single lap. Why did PD feel they needed to do this to the historic three-time Le Mans winner?
Panoz Esperante GTR-1 -
70.05 laps in 4:00 hours (420.3 pace for 24). Lap 5: 3:16.0, Lap 26: 3:18.2, Lap 68: 3:19.3. Tires: R2/R1. Speed setting "3". Pit stop every 7 laps, 5 liters fuel left. 1001 HP, 2.85 final drive ratio, 244 MPH max A-Spec speed. Lapped in just one hour by the Sauber and the Minolta car, lapped by the entire AI field in two hours. 4,500,000 credits for this?
Chaparral 2D -
70.56 laps in 4:00 (423.4 pace for 24). Lap 6: 3:14.4, Lap 38: 3:16.4, Lap 66: 3:16.1. Tires: R3/R2. Speed setting "2". Pit stop every 8 laps, 14 liters fuel left. 1041 HP, 2.90 final drive ratio, 274 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished last, 1.95 laps behind the 88C-V. Nothing can touch this car on the long Sarthe II straight. It hits an incredible 274 MPH in A-Spec (with a 2.55 final), and 244 in B-Spec mode (with a 2.90 final). If Bob could keep it on the track at the "3" speed setting, and if it had a 5-speed transmission instead of that ridiculous 3-speed, it could possibly hold its own with any of the new cars and their AI drivers.
BMW McLaren F1 GTR -
71.21 laps in 4:00 hours (427.3 pace for 24). Lap 14: 3:14.9, Lap 38: 3:16.7, Lap 70: 3:16.4. Tires: R2/R2. Speed setting "3". Pit stop every 8 laps, 8 liters fuel left. 910 HP, 2.44 final drive ratio, 242 MPH max A-Speed. Finished last, 1.5 laps behind the 88C-V. Think of this and the Panoz as "project cars". Experiment with chassis setups. See what you can do with them against the AI in various events. Best of luck to you.
Nissan R390GT -
72.55 laps in 4:00 hours (435.3 pace for 24). Lap 18: 3:10.9, Lap 40: 3:11.5, Lap 68, 3:11.9. Tires: R2/R1. Speed setting: "3". Pit stop every 7 laps, 6 liters fuel left. 1115 HP, 3.10 final drive ratio, 245 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished just 14 seconds ahead of the 88C-V, so winning with this car is not at all guaranteed. The fastest non-F1 car in GT3, it turns out to be one of the slower cars of this group in GT4. In B-Spec mode it is questionable that it can win this race, although some chassis tuning will help, of course. Note that the default downforce setting is not maxed, so if you have one of these, check that setting.
Mercedes "CLK-GTR" (actually CLK-LM) -
72.90 laps in 4:00 hours (437.4 pace for 24). Lap 12: 3:09.1, Lap 34: 3:10.2, Lap 69: 3:10.9. Tires: R2/R1. Speed setting "3". Pit stop every 7 laps, 10 liters fuel left. 1083 HP, 2.94 final drive ratio, 256 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished a half-lap ahead of the 88C-V. Somehow mis-named by PD, this car is just fast enough to comfortably win the Sarthe II 24-hour. It was hit with the straightaway wall-slam glitch on lap 15, but I never saw it happen again.
Peugeot 905 -
73.05 laps in 4:00 hours (438.3 pace for 24). Lap 6: 3:08.5, Lap 45: 3:09.7, Lap 72: 3.10.0. Tires: R3/R2. Speed setting "3". Pit stop every 8 laps, 3 liters fuel left. 1057 HP, 2.82 final drive ratio, 244 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished 1.4 laps ahead of the Sauber. Throwing huge showers of sparks as it bottoms out all over the course, and handicapped by the slowest-shifting transmission in the game, the 905 has been essentially sabotaged by the game's developers. This two-time Le Mans winner should be the fastest of the older Group C cars, but it isn't even close.
Nissan R92CP -
73.52 laps in 4:00 hours (441.1 pace for 24). Lap 5: 3:07.2, Lap 26: 3:09.2, Lap 72: 3:08.3. Tires: R2/R1. Speed setting: "3". Pit stop every 7 laps, 7 liters fuel left. 1215 HP, 2.69 final drive ratio, 251 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished one lap ahead of the Sauber. You'd think this fast car would do a lot better, but Bob could not get it to turn a lap under 3:07 on "3", and the "4" speed setting was hopeless. Poor tire wear is a real drawback, necessitating the R2/R1 combo. I'd say this was the biggest surprise of the test.
Mazda 787B -
73.61 laps in 4:00 hours (441.7 in 24). Lap 7: 3:07.4, Lap 44: 3:09.2, Lap 70: 3:09.6. Tires: R2/R1. Speed setting "3". Pit stop every 8 laps, 4 liters fuel left. 952 HP, 2.72 final drive ratio, 244 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished 1.2 laps ahead of the 88C-V. Short of horsepower and carrying a 5-speed gearbox, you wouldn't expect this great car to shine on this track, and it doesn't.
Toyota TS020 GT-One -
73.90 laps in 4:00 hours (442.8 pace for 24). Lap 4: 3:06.0, Lap 38: 3:08.8, Lap 72: 3:08.5. Tires: R2/R1. Speed setting: "3". Pit stop every 7 laps, 9 liters fuel left. 1158 HP, 2.80 final drive ratio, 263 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished 1.7 laps ahead of the Sauber. Super-fast on the long straight, the GT-One was a little slower with Bob at the wheel than I expected it would be.
Bentley Speed 8 -
73.93 laps in 4:00 hours (443.6 pace for 24). Lap 21: 3:05.8, Lap 50: 3:06.9, Lap 72: 3:08.0. Tires: R2/R1. Speed setting "4". Pit stops every 7 laps at first, then up to 8, with 3 liters fuel left. 1104 HP, 2.00 final drive ratio, 251 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished 1.5 laps ahead of the 88C-V. One of only two cars that could handle the "4" speed setting, it started off pitting every 7 laps, then started going 8. Note the virtual three-way tie with the Jag and BMW.
BMW V12 LMR -
73.95 laps in 4:00 hours (443.7 pace for 24). Lap 13: 3:05.6, Lap 47: 3:07.9, Lap 68: 3:07.6. Tires: R2/R1. Speed setting: "3". Pit stops every 7 laps, 11 liters fuel left. 1055 HP, 3.02 final drive ratio 248 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished 1.7 laps ahead of the 88C-V. Bob drives this car on this track better than I do. I find it touchy and unforgiving on Sarthe, but he doesn't. Note that it had 11 liters of fuel left after seven laps, so it should have gone eight, but it wouldn't. The tires were only light orange, so it was the fuel level that triggered the stop. Note also the virtual tie with the Jag and Bentley.
Jaguar XJR-9 -
73.96 laps in 4:00 hours (443.8 pace for 24). Lap 6: 3:05.7, Lap 40: 3:07.9, Lap 68: 3:07.5. Tires: R2/R2. Speed setting: "3". Pit stop every 7 laps, 5 liters fuel left. 1168 HP, 2.73 final drive ratio, 251 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished 1.3 laps ahead of the 88C-V. A pleasant surprise, this car's moderate rear tire wear, allowing the R2/R2 tire combination, served it well, allowing it to virtually tie the BMW LMR and Bentley. In my testing I found that adding the rigidity option seemed to help this car even more than others.
Minolta Toyota 88C-V -
74.43 laps in 4:00 hours (446.7 pace for 24). Lap 13: 3:04.4, Lap 40: 3:05.8, Lap 69: 3:06.8. Tires: R2/R1. Speed setting "3". Pit stop every 7 laps, 4 liters fuel left. 1223 HP, 3.07 final drive ratio, 251 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished 1.95 laps ahead of the Sauber. Seemingly glued to the track in A-Spec, this car is unrealistically fast. It should not be the fastest of the Group C cars, but the developers made it so, at least in A-Spec. In B-Spec, though, its a different story. Bob apparently has a little trouble with this car on R1 Super-Hard tires.
Pescarolo Courage C60 '03 -
74.54 laps in 4:00 hours (447.2 pace for 24). Lap 11: 3:03.9, Lap 52: 3:06.3, Lap 73: 3:05.6. Tires: R3/R3. Speed setting "3". Pit stop every 7 laps, 7 liters fuel left. 995 HP, 2.13 final drive ratio, 242 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished 2.1 laps ahead of the Sauber. No, that isn't a typo. The '03 Pesky can go 7 B-Spec laps on R3/R3 tires, which means this is the best choice of all if you plan to A-Spec part of the race. With this car, you won't have to deal with cold blue R1 super-hards coming out of the pits, which can be a formidable task, at best. Expect to get 6 laps between pit stops, however, when you're driving. B-Spec drivers seem to get better tire life than we do.
Sauber Mercedes C9 -
74.60 laps in 4:00 hours (447.6 pace for 24). Lap 11: 3:04.7, Lap 52: 3:06.1, Lap 73: 3:05.5. Tires: R2/R1. Speed setting "3". Pit stop every 7 laps, 4 liters fuel left. 1192 HP, 2.97 final drive ratio. 252 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished 2.1 laps ahead of the 88C-V. When we were all awaiting the release of the game, the Sauber attained a sort of mystical aura, and the word was that it would be the fastest car in the game. It isn't, but its close.
Audi R8 -
74.83 laps in 4:00 hours (449.0 pace for 24). Lap 13: 3:04.1, Lap 35: 3.04.6, Lap 73: 3.05.4. Tires: R2/R1. Speed setting "4". Pit stop every 7 laps, 5 liters fuel left. 1112 HP, 2.02 final drive ratio, 260 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished 2.5 laps ahead of the Sauber C9. The only car that Bob can drive error-free at the "4" setting, it just relentlessly turns fast laps, as you would expect, even though it needed R2/R1 tires to go 7 laps between pit stops.
Playstation Pescarolo C60 '04 -
75.12 laps in 4:00 hours (450.7 pace for 24). Lap 12: 3:02.4, Lap 40: 3:04.7, Lap 74: 3:04.2. Tires: R3/R2. Speed setting: "3", Pit stop every 7 laps, 2 liters fuel left. 1162 HP, 2.00 final drive ratio, 253 MPH max A-Spec speed. Finished 2.3 laps ahead of the 88C-V. Oh, gee, what a shock: The Sony "company car" was the fastest of all in this exercise, due in no small part to its big tire life advantage that makes the R3/R2 combination possible. In the real world, the Peskies are not really competitive with the Audi R8s, but in PD's digital domain, they can alter reality as they see fit. They've ordained the '04 Playstation Pescarolo-Judd C60 as the fastest car in the game in the Sarthe II 24-hour in B-Spec mode. So be it.
If you're planning on running one of these 24-hour races as a co-driver with your B-Spec pilot, keep this in mind: Cars in GT4 wear out pretty quickly, and become erratic-handling pigs that are much more difficult for us A-Speccing humans to drive as the long race progresses. Meanwhile, our digital B-Spec buddies don't seem to have nearly as much trouble with a trashed car as we do. I suggest you drive as much of the early part of the race as you can, and leave the late stages of the race mostly to your B-Spec pal.
Yes, the GT4 B-Spec "speed limit" was in effect throughout this test. Every car was 20 to 30 MPH slower on the long Mulsanne straight than it is in A-Spec. The Audi R8 was typical: 260 MPH in A-Spec, just 229 in B-Spec.
This was not a definitive test of the relative performance of these cars because:
--- It was conducted on just one track, with just one B-Spec pilot. Other Bobs on other tracks may yield a very different result.
--- It was done strictly with stock suspension settings on all cars. Good chassis setups may bring some of the slower cars closer to the top, and may re-arrange the order of the fastest cars.
--- Not all cars were brand-new. Some had as many as 400 miles on them at the start of the event, but those all had the RRP applied just before the race began, so at least they were as fresh as they could be.
--- Some cars, the R92CP in particular, seemed slower than they should have been. It seems to me that Bob should have driven several of the cars faster than he did. Go figure.
In any event, I had fun doing the test. Maybe it will help some players in their car-choice decisions.