By far, some of the best racing this year in the TTXGP has come from the eSuperStock class. Now mind you, the only rule that has been passed out is that in order to run in this award class your bike has to have been one of twenty-five made. It is my belief that this is a North American only award, and is indeed a prototype experiment. Well, so far it is working. From what I heard the racing was good at Infinion, and even better at PIR, as I watched on the tiny security camera feed that the OMRRA so cleverly has set up. Now, they are slower bikes. They were 4 seconds slower at PIR than even 250cc Ninjas, but only because of the long straight. And even more of a surprise, because of the reliability of the eSuperStock bikes they took the top three spots in points of the two race weekend back at the end of the first round. So, there we go. This is the solution, right? I just can’t bring myself to say yes.
Now we talked about this class on the first ever round table podcast, and in some length. Here’s the thing, the reason the racing is so good is because all of the bikes are the same. Only one manufacturer has bikes in this class, and arguably the only ones capable of being fast enough to be tolerated by fans. A stock Brammo Enertia would be crushed. But this brings me to one of the sticking points. What happens when enough Empulse Rs have been made and people start showing up on them? You have an Empulse, or even Empulses putting a clear gap on them. Now, a Brammo Enertia Plus I think would be closer to the ’12 Zero Ss in performance, but I suspect there would still be a gap, only back to them. So, it’s all fine and good that the racing is really good right now, but what about next year?
Well, next year could bring the eCRP Energica, the Muench Production Racer, the Empulse R and TTX, and Zero’s “Empulse Killer” (from now on referred to as “EK”). Well, (and I say this cautiously) the eCRP and Muench may very well be closely matched in Europe, and the Empulse TTX and Zero’s “EK” could be a good battle here in the US. But that is a whole lot of guessing. I am pretty certain the US bikes would see little to nothing of the Euro bikes but their tail lights going off into the sunset, if they were ever to meet at the same track. But again, a whole lot of guessing. This series could do with some more certainty. The 75 award has interest, but is in only it’s second year. The biggest complaint about it last year was here in the US where the GP bikes would lap the 75 bikes. But in Europe, ARC EV Racing was often times fighting for a podium against “GP” bikes. And in Australia all of the bikes are 75 award bikes. Really, I feel the eCRP and Zongshen bikes should have shown up with 7.5kWh packs. The results would be the same because of Himmelmann’s tactics, but the entire field would have been 75 bikes accept for the Muench, and the racing may have been even better! Who knows, maybe the Spa team would have been able to stay in the series. But again, more guessing and dreaming. And oddly enough, even with smaller packs, the 75 bikes have proven to be obviously faster than the eSuperStock bikes currently being used. Even so, there is about as much consistency and close racing in the 75 award as there is in the GP class. And, it seems pretty clear that my initial thoughts were wrong, and 75 award bikes are much more expensive than current eSuperStock bikes. But next years bikes all look to be in the $18k to $25k range.
Mike Edwards of MIST Suzuki, suggested a Moto2 type model where people buy a control motor and controller (and maybe even battery pack) setup just like they buy Honda engines for the Moto2 class, and build bikes around them. I think a control controller is a better idea. My thought is keep the TTX75 award name, but make it a 75kW controller power limit, rather than a 7.5kWh pack limit. 75kW converts to 100hp, which is just under stock 600cc territory. I have currently become a believer that comparing engine displacement to electrics is all but pointless, but this would help the average motorcycle fan. Also, whether 100hp comes out of the motor, much less the rear wheel, is a whole other can of worms. If the TTXGP could work with Sevcon, Manzinita Micro, Mission Motors, and even maybe RMS, so that you could buy a certified and sealed controller from any one of these companies, I think it would keep the technology open while equalizing the field and breeding good racing. This also allows more freedom in building packs from differing manufacturers. The current pack limit makes for some creative thinking when building a pack, which isn’t a bad thing, just a pain. And really, the packs wouldn’t be that much bigger. Also, when the battery tech improves to the point that races were lengthened, there would be no rule changes needed. We would also need someone like Mission Motors or Electric Motorsports to offer full kits, that were ready to race. Moto2 is known for its close racing, because the power is so close. I think this is one way of keeping the racing close while still allowing for a great variety of technology to be used, and room for all kinds of companies to be involved.
That said, motorcyclists are a very conservative bunch. They do not like change, and they like what they know. Right now, club racers know how to buy a used bike, and convert it for track use. They relish the process. I think the same goes for professional teams, just on a more expensive level. I mean how many prototype series are there out there? And even in MotoGP, unless you are the factory, you lease the bike and are told to leave it to hell alone. Most racing in the world involves and evolves around taking a stock bike and bolting things on and playing with it until it goes faster. There are people who are into building something new, but I don’t think they are the great majority. I believe one of the biggest reasons we don’t have more people in these series, other than the global recession, is the simple fact you can’t buy an electric sport bike, used or new, and bolt things on it, hack the controller, and go racing. I think you’d find that an electric race bike, even a TTX75 award one, costs more than most of the bikes in the AMA paddock. Even the AMA Daytona Superbikes start off as $14k showroom models. All this really means is that electric bikes and racing are going to stay the niche market they are, until everything comes to maturity. And maybe in the meantime we can attract all of those smart and inventive people who are tired of just bolting things on, into our sub-sport giving us a leg up on the concervative ICE crowd.
But, the ultimate solution to keep the racing we have as a way of building the sport, is a to have a spec cup. I am not a fan of this, because it could give one company a huge advantage over the others. However, as this is the most involved Zero has ever been in road racing, and the likes of Muench, eCRP, Brammo, and Lightning are already so intrenched in the GP class, a Zero S Cup might not be playing favorites.