Thank you to David Herron and his Electric Racing News website for the heads up.
So, the synopsis is that there are 8 bikes (it was 9) committed to come this weekend. This also might be the final word on the rider silly season which has been pretty quiet and hush hush.
Lets start with Lightning. After putting in some serious work over the winter I really thought Ted Rich would be in the line up for my favorite team [to watch thrash on their bikes last minute in the pits]. However, according to the TTXGP’s press release it will be Barney (aka Micheal Barnes) and Tim Hunt. Don’t confuse me with someone who is reading anything into this. However, if Ted is that good a development rider (as I am sure he is) and there are 2 guys that are faster still it means Lightning has some seriously deep and a comparatively large talent pool backing their small effort. We know this bike is fast. We know they are capable of 240hp, at least. And, as of last fall, it could run flat out around Chuckwalla raceway for a half hour straight. We know that they seem to have found a solution to their weight distribution quirk that Ted talked about in his podcast interview with me. The thing will now go around corners in a manner more suiting a proper race bike. It is going to be the bike to beat and Mr. Hatfield clearly wants his North American title back from Brammo.
Brammo. Well it’s going to be a very busy week for them as 3 days after the race and their head to head battle with Lighting, they are releasing their new Empulse and Empulse R . . . finally. Now, we know the 2012 Empulse RR will have about twice the power, which will put it at about 2/3 of Lighting’s peak power. The question is, will it be enough bike for the young Steve Atlus to take on the veteran Micheal Barnes, and keep the the NA championship? I believe they have the better handling, and lighter bike. Do they have the better balanced bike for the job? We’ll only know after the checker drops Sunday.
Now, the internet rumor mill has Shelina Moreda on a second Brammo race bike, yet she is not on the press release. She is in their new commercial they have been making, but no bike? Hmmm. This makes me wonder. More on that in a second.
Virginia Tech and their tidy package seem to also be making an appearance. Their CBR chassis really seems to have made a great platform to build on. The company they chose their otor and controller from is more known as a government contractor than EV component manufacturer, but you tube videos look very promising. It is too bad Jeremiah Johnson won’t be able to make this round, as he had planned. He was the other TTX75 award entry.
Yes you read that right! Out of no where the TTXGP has pulled a new award category out. Now don’t get your panties in a bunch. I suspect this is a test for them. So far the only rule for this class is that the bike must be a production bike from production run in which there were at least 25 bikes made. I am sure there are some rules about how much you can modify them. But this leads to the bizarro world news. There are no less that FOUR, 1-2-3-4, Zeros signed up for that “award”. I would not call these folks factory riders (well one is an employee [type person?]), but I don’t think they paid much for the bikes either. But really, how much factory support do you need for an electric SS bike? A hot controller and BMS map? Is there anything else?
Now, I think the eSS award is great, especially with minimal rules. We could potentially have eCRP, Brammo, Zero, and maybe even Munch, all in with their vision of a production [race] bike battling it out against each other. Just run what you make. That could really put some pressure on marketing and production strategies for some companies. But as it has been leaked that Zero is planning an “Empulse killer” for 2013, I think they are all headed in the same basic direction anyway. It would also mean we could see how a multi-speed Empulse stacks up against their single speed competitors. I see it as more than just a budget supersport
class award. I see it as a pure battle of individual company’s ideals and philosophy. Everyone thinks their way is right, their battery tech is better, their balance of all factors is better than the competitors, etc., etc.. Well, if this award turns out to be successful, we might see just that.
Which brings me to Zero. I have criticized Zero for their hands off approach to racing in the past because, well, I’m a race fan. It’s that simple. Whether they read this blog, or others have said the same, or they are scared of the the Empulse, or they need the data for next’s years “Empulse Killer”, or for a change it makes business since, etc., it looks like they will have 4 riders on their bikes this weekend. Now, the question remains, how soon will we see an Empulse R in this award class [my term]? And will Brammo have them in there soon enough, and in enough numbers, to block Zero from a potential manufacturer’s championship? Oh, snap! I am waiting for confirmation on this year’s rules, but flooding the field with comparatively inexpensive Zero eSS bikes could net Zero the NA Championship! That might burn Richard Hatfield’s butt, but he has production motorcycles in the works that would wipe the floor with Zero’s S. I just don’t think they are scheduled for prime time yet.
This brings me back to Shelina Moreda. Letting my imagination run yet again, might Brammo be planning to run Shelina on a factory Empulse R eSS bike to take precious points away from Zero, and help Brammo retain the Manufacturer’s title, and provide development bed for their up coming TTX package? This would satisfy the racing for Brammo rumors, and possibly explain why she isn’t on the gird for this weekends race as the bike has yet to be released, much less made. This could also lay ground work for a Brammo rider development pipe line as well as be invaluable for R&D and marketing as the RR is a single speed. I also can’t help but think Brammo would enjoy making the other manufacturers who claim a transmission is too complex, inefficient, costly, heavy, etc., etc., eat their word.
West Coast MotoJam:
And last but not least, according to the West Coast MotoJam schedule the TTXGP has not one but two races on the same day. And they will each be 11 laps long! This is a surprise, for sure. Race 1 is scheduled to end at 11:10am and Race 2 is to start at 4:30pm. This has so many ramifications, and I am waiting for conformation from the TTXGP. Lets start with race length and the 2 races on the same day. This schedule is the same they had last year, but the rain changed Race 1 to Saturday and shortened the races to 6 laps each, from the already shortened 9 laps. In 2010, the very first TTXGP road race (versus real roads race), the race was 11 laps long. I believe, in probably both an attempt to improve the racing (i.e. faster lap times) and give the teams a chance at getting the bikes fully charged for the both races, the races were shortened to 9 laps. Again, the rain had other ideas. However, since later on in the season both Mission and Munch dropped 16 seconds a lap off of the previous year’s record lap times at certain tracks on both sides of the Atlantic, and with the improvement and implementation of high wattage chargers and batteries BMSs that can use them, these issues seem to no longer be a concern. But, almost 5 more miles may have an impact on Lighting’s power usage, and it remains to be seen if they will be able to fully uncork that 240hp motor and have enough juice to make it to the end in front of the Brammo. You can be sure the Brammo team will have the math done. Their philosophy seems to be to try to give a rider a bike he/she can ring the throat on without having to worry about having enough juice to make it to the end. Last year Atlas ran 12 laps at Infineon at or near race pace with no problem with the 80hp motor. We’ll see how about double the power effects things. Brammo will have no problem getting fully charged in time ( they have basically a home rewed Chademo charger). The Zeros however, are a different story. The question is, will they be allowed aftermarket chargers. And will they be running the 6 or 9kWhr packs? They may only need the ZF6 packs for racing as the motors aren’t that powerful. This would help cut charge time down significantly as well. But with bikes that slow, how is traffic going to play out?
It is going to be really interesting to see, that’s for sure.