So I only had 3 hits on this page today, and I suspect they were bots. I find it strangely relieving. Not to mention I have to be to work in a few hours and here I am typing away on possibly the best blogging laptop every with my wife a sleep next to me. She finds out I wrote this she’s going to kill me. We have a wedding ceremony in 2 . . . no, 1 day! Yes a bit backwards I know, but such is life. Anyway on to the real news that no one is reporting.
So according to this news bit on the TT’s website the gas bikes only got 1 lap, and weather got so bad they shut everything down 1.5 hours before the Elmotos were to take the track on for the first time. Which was Wednesday. Then they canceled Thursday all together because of weather. So no one got to play. Not that I really care about any bike besides the elmotos.
So there is a revised schedule now. But it is only for Saturday to Tuesday. Friday will be Thursday’s schedule which is exactly the same for the TT Zero crew. So this the new TT Zero practice/Qualifying start times:
June is going to be ridiculous when it comes to racing over the next few weeks. I think it’s a conspiracy to try to make me OD on racing, and they might just succeed. Here’s what is coming up for the next few weeks:
May 31: First TT Zero Practice
June 1: Second TT Zero Practice Brammo Practice and Qualifying at AFM Round at Thunder Hill
June 2: Brammo at AFM Races
June 3: Third TT Zero Practice and Moto Electra starts cross Continent EV record attempt
June 5: The TT Zero race
June 8: M1GP Practice and Qualifying
June 9: M1GP Races
So, for the Europeans it is a 6 week break from the TT to the first round of the eRR in Europe. In North America it is only a 3 week break for the Hollywood Electrics guys from the last M1GP round to Pikes Peak and the REFUEL event being held the same weekend. And then another 3 weeks to the first North American eRR race at Laugna Seca. Thank the lord because I’ll need the breaks. It looks like the Pikes Peak will be very well covered by both Ride Apart and Asphalt & Rubber, and @Pinkyracr will be hooning around Laguna Seca at the REFUEL event. So we have that to look forward too.
Hold on to your pantyhose kids. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
Well it’s that time of year and the festival starts in just over a week. Fortunately we finally have official confirmation of the teams that are coming this year. This is the first year that we have not heard over 20 bikes were coming only for those numbers to steadily fall. And I, for one, am grateful. But other than building up the battle between MotoCzysz and Mugen, they let us know that University teams Kingston and Brunel are coming back but are going to have to face new comers Ohio State and Imperial College. So with the heavy weights and University teams accounted for who is coming back with serious efforts for 2013? Well, ManTTx, Vercamoto, Komatti-Mirai Racing, and Lightning Motors. I am actually a bit excited this year as my optimism has overcome my common sense and I really believe most, if not all, of these teams will finish the race. Scuttlebutt has it that more than a few teams were caught out last year by the constantly changing start times, caused by the same weather conditions that eventually lead to the Senior TT being canceled for the first time ever. Many of these teams don’t have more than one or two complete laps around the island, but again, I feel this year will be different. 10 teams, 11 bikes, and SES is back as the title sponsor. Now that sounds like a race.
Motoczysz and Mugen square up for TT Zero title fight
MotoCzysz, the dominant force in clean emissions racing, and Japanese powerhouse Mugen are gearing up for another battle in the 2013 SES TT Zero Race. Last year both teams shattered the 100mph lap mark – a feat it took internal combustion engine machines fifty years to achieve – with all three podium placed riders posting times in excess of the magic ton.
Michael Rutter won in 2011 for MotoCzysz and defended his title in 2012 but he was chased all the way by John McGuinness on the eye-catching Mugen Shinden. John, who was making his electric bike debut, finished just 23 seconds behind Rutter at an average speed for the lap of 102.2mph. Michael’s team mate and 2010 TT Zero Champion Mark Miller was only 15 seconds back on John to complete the remarkable “centurion” podium. As defending champion Michael Rutter starts the 2013 SES sponsored event from the pole position on the all-new 013 e1pc. The MotoCzysz team believe this year’s entry is capable of a sub 20:35 lap – putting them on target for an average lap speed in excess of 110mph. To put that ambition into perspective Michael’s lap record from the Lightweight TT on a 650cc Kawasaki stands at 115.554 mph. Michael will, once again, be joined by America’s Mark Miller on the startline where Mark’s bike will carry the number two plate. John McGuinness will again spearhead the Mugen effort, on the Shinden Ni, their 2013 machine. With an all new chassis and power train as well as completely new bodywork Mugen are confident it will be capable of adding at least ten miles an hour to the 2012 benchmark.
Six countries will be represented in the 2013 SES TT Zero with ManTTx and local rider Dave Moffitt representing the Isle of Man, Italian outfit Vercamoto and Chris McGahan and last year’s debutant competitors Komatti-Mirai Racing Team from Japan with Japanese national Yoshinari Matsushita. USA based Lighting also return after missing the 2011 meeting.
University outfit Kingston, which has competed in every event since the electric bike inception in 2009 and won the University prize in 2011 as well as finishing on the podium that year, will again campaign their ‘Ion Horse’ machine. The university outfit went close to the 100mph time in last year’s qualifying session but ultimately ran out of power just 800 metres short of the finish line. George Spence will again represent the University outfit.
A strong University entry also sees Brunel returning to the race in 2013 with Welsh rider Paul Owen. Other University outfits include ‘Buckeye Current’ from Ohio State University with 2009 Race winner Rob Barber and Imperial College who will be represented by Spain’s Antonio Maeso.
Mark Guthrie, MD of race sponsors SES Satellite Leasing Ltd, commented: “SES is delighted to once again support the SES TT Zero Race. As a company we pride ourselves on innovation and groundbreaking technology and it’s clear that there is going to be real competition at the front of the field again in 2013. Whatever the result, all the teams can be proud of their efforts as it’s a real achievement just to get a bike on the starting grid.”
Interviews with Jeff Smith of SRI about the EV1 desert racer and Briam Wismann of Brammo about the past weekend battling the gas bikes head on with the Empulse RRs, the Empulse TTX, and Engage Prototype. And some soap-boxing about a serious subject at the end.
Shelina gives us the rundown on Sunday’s happenings, from killing it on the TTX going from 14th to 7th, to a 4th place on a completely unprepared, yet surprisingly up to the task, prototype Engage. And as much insight into the going ons with the RRs that she could provide. And as usual I ask numb questions about the track.
I was a bit anxious after the last race Sunday. The two Empulse RR riders weren’t going anywhere near as fast as I had thought they would. I really thought we’d see low 1:40s, and even dared to think the AMA Daytona Sportbike class times of 1:38s per lap were possible. Eboz got within 10 seconds of that time today. What happened? How did I get it that wrong? More importantly did my unrealistic and very public expectations put undue stress on anyone? And did I setup you, my audience, up for disappointment? I have to be concerned, as people are reading this site now. I broke both my highest one day and weekly traffic numbers today, which were previously set at the World Final in Daytona last October. Then I focus on how the Brammo duo only got within only one second of Lightning’s qualifying time from the TTXGP round last year at about this time. How did they not obliterate it? Is power much more of an advantage at Sonoma than I thought? Then I get a tweet from the man like he was reading my mind (or at least the blog). They guy who seems to me to be set to become the Godfather of Electric Motorcycle racers, Eric Bostrom:
“@ttxgpfan Thanks for tuning in. Flawless weekend for the team and plenty of motor. Chassis is our focus to move forward in the field.”
OK, so the world wasn’t upside down. Sonoma has proven to be a very different track than Thunderhill, but it’s still the chassis stupid. Why then, when the 2013 Empulse RR is clearly a better handling bike than the early 2012 was it not able to match and crush Barney’s lap time when the old bike were so close at last year’s Laguna Seca round? I went back and looked at the fastest AMA times from the previous year. The 600 Supersports were running as fast as the 750 Superbikes were today. Hell, the RR would have been lucky to brake the top five in qualifying for the Harley XR1200 class. Turns out last year Barney was on fire there. He didn’t get pole but still set 1:47 qualifying times on both the XR and Lightning, and then rode the XR to a 1:46 during the race. So the Empulse has power on all of those bikes, accept the Lightning. And it’s handling is much improved. So what gives? I think I have it . . . Weight. If you look at the AMA classes and how close they are in lap times, I think you will see that less weight translates to faster lap times, mostly because of higher corner speed and quicker acceleration (change in speed not just going faster). I am beginning to think this is the key to getting around Sonoma when compared to Laguna. But that is a sketchy conclusion as Superbikes are always the fastest and the XRs are always the slowest no matter the track. A better example can be seen when you look and see that the very lightweight eSS Zeros from last year would easily fall within the FIM’s qualifying cutoff scheme at Sonoma and but fell well short at Laguna (and were allowed to race anyway). The Zeros had about 1/7th the horsepower and about half the weight of the Lightning bikes. I suspect Laguna Seca hides weight and rewards horsepower more than Sonoma, and is why we have seen the prototypes take big chunks of time out at Laguna. But we have not really seen that happen at Sonoma as weights haven’t dropped much but power has chassis have improved over the last few years. However, from all reports the Lightning is heavier and more powerful and doesn’t have the handling of the Mission. So this in counter intuitive. All I can think of is that the Barnes used the Lighting’s power to counter it’s weight masterfully, and Sonoma may just suit the Lightning. I am certain the Brammo guys have taken every ounce out of the RR they could, so the only thing they can do is try to figure out how to get the bike to carry the extra weight through the corner faster, and that would be done through the chassis. I think of as trying to make a modern Mustang corner like a GT40. It’s a tall order, but there is room for improvement. That is a pretty horrible analogy, but you get the idea. There is more to this, and I am very curious about it. As I have the time I will try to talk to people who have raced both tracks to try to get some more insight.
So all this “anxiety” and blabbering on about lap times is covering up what really happened this weekend. Shelina Kicked some Gas on the TTX, and all the bikes ran flawlessly! I didn’t hear of one hiccup. None of the bike had to be reset mid race, a new charging scheme allowed flawless execution of charging all 4 bikes in a timely manner, and they prepped and raced 4 bikes for three riders in four classes with sometimes mad dashes to and fro from the SuperMoto track. In none of the races today were these guys last! Both RR’s did beat Lighting’s best race time and ran up to 9 seconds faster than at last year’s TTXGP race. Although they got very few laps around the track as both Steve Atlas and Steve Rapp got launched in practice and qualifying. Sonoma was a bad place for them last year and Brammo took its revenge on the track this weekend. Also, we finally got to see the public racing debut of the Engage Prototype. And it looks like Shelina took 4th if I am reading her twitter feed correctly.
From all accounts the team worked their tails off and didn’t spin a tire in the process. The bikes ran flawlessly and the riders rode flawlessly. There were no bobbles or flaws and they represented the elmoto world very well. Bravo Zulu to those guys for what appears to have been a text book execution of a race weekend.