Sunday, June 24, 2012

Brammo's Atlas wins TTXGP at PIR after MotoCzysz pulls out

After yesterdays wet weather, and the snafu with the battery pack on one of MotoCzysz' bikes, the TTXGP electric motorcycle race today, at Portland International Raceway (PIR), went off pretty well.  The weather was clear, partly cloudy, modest temperature, and an excited group of fans to watch the race.  As expected, Brammo's Steve Atlas stole the show unimpeded by competitors MotoCzysz and Lightning Motorcycles neither of whom were present.   This meant the real battle was for 2nd, 3rd, and in the eSuperStock and TTX75 award categories.

If Lightning and MotoCzysz were to have been present, this would have been a different race, with a big battle among those giants for 1st, 2nd, 3rd.  Lightning's Richard Hatfield communicated with me that parts and equipment and bikes had not made it back from the Isle of Man in time for the PIR race.  In the case of MotoCzysz, as I reported earlier (see link above), one of their bikes nearly caught fire, and they decided to not risk running the race today.  Clearly the short time between the Isle of Man race and PIR was too tight for either Lightning or MotoCzysz to adequately turn around their bikes, and reconfigure from IOM to PIR.

As has been true with TTXGP for awhile, this was two races.  The first race was the solo ride by Steve Atlas, on the Brammo Empulse RR.  His bike is so much faster than the others that he was passing everyone as if they were standing still.  The rest of the pack was more evenly matched, with the two TTX75 bikes both running faster than the Zero S bikes in the eSuperStock group.

When the Empulse RR passes by on the straight (and this is true of the Lightning & MotoCzysz) the sound is this amazing whoosh, and high pitch metallic whine, that carries power and speed without all the noise and stink of the gas bikes.  These bikes have to be witnessed to be believed.  It's too bad that there are so few of them in existence.

Atlas finished the race having covered 9 laps, having lapped the whole field and lapping two bikes twice, with a total time of 11:49.901, and a best lap time of 1:17.768.  This is a bit faster lap time than during qualifying yesterday.  Both MotoCzysz bikes had turned in even better lap times yesterday, which should have meant both will have beat him had they been able to race.

In the TTX75 award group, Matt Kent, of VA Tech, came in 1st, covering 8 laps, total time 12:27.921, best lap time 1:32.613.  Ely Schless came in 2nd, having covered 8 laps, total time of 13:03.608, best lap time of 1:36.009.

In the eSuperStock award group, the four bikes rode together as a group through the whole race, until the last lap or so.  Zero's crew had configured the four bikes with different gearing during practice rounds, so they could determine which gearing was best for PIR.  Then for the race they configured the four bikes with identical gearing, and unsurprisingly the four bikes performed almost identically.  They were also having fun with the horns, one time passing by the start/stop line they honked the horns in unison, getting a chuckle from the onlookers.  The racers in the eSuperStock group were all racing against each other, and traded places several times.

The same moment that the eSuperStock passed the start/stop line is when Atlas was crossing the start/stop to get the checkered flag.  Three of the eSuperStock Zero's were across the start/stop line when Atlas went across the line, with the fourth passing the start/stop line after Atlas.  This means three of the eSuperStock Zero's had 8 laps (being lapped by Atlas only once), and the fourth had only 7 laps, being lapped by Atlas twice.

Troy Siahaan came in 1st, total time 13:32.065, best lap time 1:38.249, Chris Page came in 2nd, total time 13:32.218, best lap time 1:38.400, Kenyon Kluge came in 3rd, total time 13:32.437, best lap time 1:37.668, and Don Headrick came in 4th, total time 11:51.599, best lap time 1:37.727, and again having been lapped twice had only 7 laps.

I want to reiterate - the eSuperStock and TTX75 were "awards" not "classes".  This means that while I'm reporting the eSuperStock and TTX75 with 1st/2nd/etc there was also an overall 1st/2nd/3rd, which you could derive from the above, but is:  1st: Steve Atlas (Brammo), 2nd: Matt Kent (VA Tech), 3rd: Ely Schless (Proto Moto).

A most unfortunate incident occurred during Steve Atlas' parade lap, one that ticked off one of the Zero riders enormously.  The story hadn't been entirely verified by the time I left the track, and the Brammo crew is denying the incident occurred.

It's claimed that, during his parade lap, Steve Atlas pulled over to the side and stopped in turn 4, and one of the Zero riders pulled in behind Atlas to stop as well.  While Atlas was in a parade lap, all the other bikes (except for that 4th Zero bike) were still racing hard to determine the rest of the ranking.  So when that Zero rider pulled in behind Atlas and stopped, that messed up his ranking in the race.

UPDATE:  Troy Siahaan posted a video/story of the race, which includes video showing what Steve did.  He was riding slowly, waving to the crowd, and was basically in the way when the Zero riders caught up with him.  You can see the video here:

My opinion is that Atlas, as a Pro rider, should have understood the other riders were still racing and should not have done something like pull over to the side.  It's unclear why the Zero rider would have pulled off along with Atlas, unless the location where Atlas stopped was inconvenient for the Zero Riders?  This happened on the other side of the track from my vantage, and I'm repeating on second hand reports.  FWIW Atlas denies he stopped.  UPDATE: The video mentioned makes it clearer what happened.

In all it was an excellent race where the major part of the drama was not with the 1st place finisher (Atlas) but the rest of the pack.  There were many more watchers lining the pit wall for this race, than for the other gas bike races, which I see as a positive sign of a high degree of interest.

The other item to note is that Portland Mayor Sam Adams was on hand to present some of the trophies. He is apparently a strong proponent of electric vehicles.  It was also interesting seeing him in person, considering the bit part he plays in the Portlandia TV series.


  1. 1:38.4 for Chris Page, yes?

    Regardless of whether Atlas stopped (he could have had a technical issue, though if the Brammo crew and Steve Atlas are all denying this.. well, shenanigans!), the Zero rider should have continued on. The Zero rider blaming Steve Atlas smells like poor sportsmanship.

  2. Yes - that's correct for Chris Page. And I agree that's one interpretation of what happened between Steve and the Zero rider. I didn't see it, did not know where he was precisely on the track, maybe you saw him? For example, if he stopped in the middle of the track the others would have had no choice but to stop as well. But if he did properly pull to the side, then the Zero rider doesn't have much room to complain. Perhaps the Zero rider thought Steve was in trouble and stopped to help?

  3. HI David ... Great report, too bad all the players did not play.

    WIll you be coming down to ReFuel at Laguna Seca July 1?

  4. Hey Unknown - I think I'm going to REFUEL, depends on if my girlfriend is interested ;-)

  5. Nice blog, but do you have any images to share.