Hello all, sorry I’ve been gone for so long. I’ll get the excuses out of the way: Moved, broke my laptop, 6 day work weeks. There, now that is out of the way.
What a freakin’ summer huh! A race in one series or another every weekend for a while there, with sometimes 2 rounds in the same weekend. Even if I had been on my game I’d have been hard-pressed to cover the series like I wanted. And now not only are Empulses finally starting to roll off the assembly line, but Lightning has announced a new production bike for sale, which was covered over at Asphalt and Rubber. But that brings me to the one thing that has happened over the past few months that stands out to me more than anything, if barely. Lighting motorcycles. Now their PR is much better as I receive updates every now and then with lots of links to published articles, videos, or blog posts (A&Rs excluded of course). So that is a plus. But they were leading the manufacturer’s points championship by one point with a solid victory over Brammo at Laguna, and while they weren’t leading the rider’s championship, they decided to forgo the last Miller round and take Brammo head on and went to the last FIM/TTXGP European round instead. So they could have gone for the manufacturer’s championship in the US, but instead decided to fly clear over to France, with Miguel Duhamel in tow (yes THAT Miguel Duhamel) and race for no championship titles what so ever. Does that make sense to you? Maybe it’s just thinking outside the box. From what I understand the maker of the cells that make up the 22kWh (yes, 22kWH!) pack they tried to run at the IoM, is German. Also, maybe they wanted to streamline their process for packing and shipping the bike. And as they have released their plans for a production bike showing up at one of the biggest FIM Endurance events of the year while blistering down the straight at 166mph and taking the win is not a bad PR move. eCRP who? It still doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, but I am used to ICE racing where little to no US teams ever leave the AMA paddock for Europe.
But then they had Miguel Duhamel on the bike. Of course, if you are going to France to race, then having a French-Canadian rider would be a big advantage. But, not only is Miguel Duhamel a 9 time AMA champion, he is also the 2nd most winningest rider in AMA history. He was the winningest until he was surpassed by Matt Mladin. However, most if not all of Mladin’s wins came in the Superbike class during his reign where Duhamel’s came in a few different classes over what I believe is a longer time span. What does all that mean? It means the dude’s fast, on just about anything. Who knows what the Le Mans win means. But considering the fastest lap at Le Mans last year was 1:54.584, where as this year it was a 1:52.888 (less than 2 second faster) I would say that it was Duhamel who was slower, not Muench who was faster at the famous track. But, to add even more confusion, the winner last year did the entire race 1:10 faster than they did this year. I am assuming that maybe the course was different, or they did an extra lap? I’ve just now left a message with the e-power folks, asking. Muench’s times have been very consistent all year with their times from last year. And then Duhamel is reported to have said he only had 40 laps on the bike all week. Well, I can pretty accurately say there are a LOT of riders that wish they had 40 laps on their bikes in a week, or ever.
If we look back to Laguna, Himmelman beat Tom Montano on the second Lightning. And Montano is Mission’s original development and IoMTT rider. In other words, no slouch. By now you probably think I’m bi-polar. Is Duhamel fast or not, and will Lighting be the bike to beat or not? Well, lets look at Icon/Brammo and the rider’s results at Laguna and Miller. Eric Bostrom is a fast, well known and respected AMA racer. One of the top racers. He, Barney, and Duhamel have all raced against each other and probably know each other very well, but neither Barney or Bostrom have Duhamel’s record. Not even close. So, at Laguna Bostrom gets a fast start but his experienced teammate, and 2011 champion, Steve Atlas put a good gap on him. Bostrom had something to learn about racing elmotos, and said as much. Clearly he learned that lesson, because he did to Atlas at Miller what Atlas had done to him at Laguna. Of course they raced a different part of the track at Miller so I can’t compare times from last year. I suspect Duhamel will go through a similar learning curve, but I’m not certain. What we do know is that all season Barney has been faster than Atlas, and Lightning is at least playing with their new uber cells. With Barney on the Lightning, Icon/Brammo is going to need every % of that fully turned up motor. With Bostrom seeming to have figured the Empulse RR out that may be enough. But Dayton is a draft a unique course. I do not yet know what the course layout will be, but every configuration I know of includes a section of banking. The thing that chews up a battery pack the most is not the hard accelerations but sustained high speeds. Duhamel is a master of the draft and many of his wins came because of his ability to use the draft just at the right time. This gives him an advantage. But it also means this race is going to be very strategic. If Lightning shows up with their standard pack size, they may not be able to use all of their power on the banking, giving Brammo the tactical advantage. But. if they show up with a bigger pack, its game over. I don’t see Muench paying into this one unless Himmelman’s tactical ability keeps him in the game. I think Daytona is going to be a chess match, much more than a slugfest. You’d better believe there will be some serious number crunching going on before they even step foot in the airport.
Speaking of Daytona, I will be there! I am waiting to hear when the first practice will be before I pull the trigger on plane tickets, but I may just have to suck it up and take a risk. And a big and seriously late thank you to Richard C. for his donation back in July. I raised $462 ($480 before Paypal fees), which wasn’t enough for Laguna, and then Miller was looking to be upwards of $700 to $800 and was just too far out of reach. But Daytona is in the money, pardon the pun. The same plan goes as before. I plan to plaster the internet with news to the best of my ability.
Also, as you may have noticed, the site has been updated. This has been a long time coming. We have had the esbk.co web domain for months now, but having the time to get everything lined up has been a challange. But it has finally happened. Really nothing is going to change, I just have my own unique identity now. The Podcast is getting a “facelift” too, and will now be called the “esbk Studios”. That’s all I can manage to squeeze out tonight. Have a good day, and enjoy one more video.
Update: I just received confirmation from the e-Power folks that this year’s race at Le Mans was in fact 1 lap longer. So, an extra lap and the race was only 1:10 longer this year than last. That’s at least 42 seconds of pork cut out of race distance. I suspect consistently faster lap times only account for half that time, and that a much faster first lap, and less fading towards the end of the race make up the second half.