If you are anything like me, you’d consider an hourglass (or even a calendar) enough to record your own glacial pace around a racetrack, lap after lap. In reality, even if you are attending trackdays with your car or motorbike, like all of us, just for fun, having a vague idea of your lap times might be helpful to understand if you are improving your driving/riding or not.
As trackdays open to everyone are not competitive, it is forbidden to take lap times (at least here in the UK) and despite most sportbikes having a timer function embedded in their dashboards, I always found having to press the button at the end of every lap an unwelcome distraction.
Enter the omni-present GoPro camera, strapped somewhere on the bike.
I’ve spent the last couple of years, timing my laps at home watching GoPro recordings of my sessions. It gets very tedious very quickly (just ask any of your friends you forced to watch said videos) and it is literally time consuming.
Recent GoPros have an integrated GPS chipset, running at 18Hz, that will give you more than enough accurate timing without having to buy any other dedicated hardware (laptimer apps and external GPS receivers).
To analyse the data I recently stumbled upon Race Technology’s GoPro Race Analysis Software.
It runs on Windows only, but works smoothly for me on a VirtuaBox instance on Mac. The interface is… fairly unfriendly at first. It remains unfriendly even later on, but you can get the hang of it after a short while.
Once the .mp4 files from the GoPro are loaded in, the software will plot speed, position, accelerometer data, circuit layout and video preview. Once the start/finish line marker is added it will calculate lap times, and sectors can be added. You can compare laps or sectors and export the relevant data and/or video part.
There are extra functionalities like maths channels, ability to join GoPro chapters together (this is when the GoPro truncates videos in several 4Gb files), video overlays, and others that I haven’t really tried and probably won’t, as I’m more than satisfied with it just sifting through all the video and giving me the data without having to sit there spooling it all.
I’d love to see this running natively on Mac or even just have a decent user interface but, to be honest, it does exactly what it says on the tin and it is well worth the £50ish license fee.