He is best known for landing a plane on the helipad of Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Jumeirah earlier this year. Play the second video for those who don’t know what that is. In short, a modified STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) aircraft managed to fly around the seven-star hotel and put its wheels down on a 27-meter (88-foot) circle suspended 222 meters (728 feet) above the Persian Gulf.
The Polish stunt pilot accepted to race against Ben Collins, the British former professional racing driver, TV host, and current YouTube car enthusiast. Each is driving its weapon of choice, naturally. For the aerobatic pilot, the option is obvious – an airplane. Specifically, his trusted Zivko Edge 540T, in which he performed many of his famous gravity-defying antics (except the world-record Arabian landing).
A note is needed before this article continues with the story: the race took place in Poland as part of a fund-raising charity event. While regular F1 missiles are strictly single-seat speed demons, this example has been retrofitted with extra cockpit room for a second co-pilot.
The car is based on the BMW Sauber F1.06 model from 2006 – one of the last proper Formula One cars from the V8 era. Three liters of naturally aspirated might – precisely 602 hp (610 PS) at a high-pitched 12,000 RPM (the engine has been tuned to run at lower RPMs for more extended durability).
Take this in its most literal sense – while the industry-wide norm is to state the 0-60 mph time (97 kph) and its metric twin cousin, the 0-62 mph (100 kph), Formula One ups the ante two-fold. Consequently, this quirky-looking open-wheel racer needs five-and-a-half seconds to blast past 124 mph (200 kph).
The former Stig is not driving it because he prefers the composed attitude of the Ferrari SF90 – a monstrously powerful hybrid with all-wheel drive and 1,000 combined horses to shoot its 1.7 tons past 211 mph (340 kph). Marking another milestone in air drag avoidance, the SF90 has proven it's worth time and time again.
Finally, cutting in without regard for manners or air-sculpted silhouettes, one of Poland’s greatest automotive achievements stacks up against the athletic duo. Sporting around 990 hp (just over 1,000 PS), an MTM Poland-prepped Audi RS 6 joins the game. It has two-and-half times as many doors as the other competitors combined and is heavier than both, at nearly 2.5 tons.
It also happens to be a Quattro – but one that can carry more people than the rest of this race’s contenders with their respective luggage. However, this desperately incorrect fight is about getting first across the 440-yard mark at the far end of the runway.
Since this round was an easy win for Ben Collins, he took the wheel of the two-seater Sauber BMW to race against an airplane. Piloted by the stunt above the pilot, the plane obliterated the car in a straight-line performance. It smoked it fair and square, with neck-breaking turns, surreal vertical pulls, and downright outrageous acceleration (with or without the help of gravity).
The aircraft is a Zivko Edge 540T (the T stands for ‘Trainer,’ hence the vacant front seat) and is a severe performer in its class of flying machines. Twenty-three feet from nose to tail (7 m) and spanning 25’10” in (8 m) from wingtip to wingtip, the 540T sits just 7 feet and 9 inches (2.36 m) above ground (when not flying, obviously).
The engine size is almost three times that of its grounded adversary – the three-liter V8 BMW Formula One powerplant – but develops only 328 hp (332 PS) at 2,700 RPM. Although the plane can fly at 170 knots (200 mph, or 321 kph), its ultimate weapon is the ability to brake and turn mid-air.
It needs one-third of a second to go from 1G to 10G, so slowing down is nearly instantaneous. The Polish pilot can simply pin his plane in the sky for a moment using his superhuman abilities and the aircraft’s superb handling. And, as we can see in the video, it also delivers a massive defeat over the nimble BMW F1 two-seat one-off.