Monday, July 30, 2012

Virginia Tech (VT-BOLT) team announces intention to develop GP Class bike for 2013 TTXGP

The Virginia Tech team is a newcomer to the TTXGP scene, but have made two impressive showings so far.  The team has won the TTX75 classification ("award") in both outings, at Portland, and now at Laguna Seca.


The team has issued a press release saying the following:
Finally we are pleased to announce our intentions of building a GP class bike for the 2013 season.  Thanks to the TTXGP for making this great series possible, we are looking forward to seeing everyone at Miller in August.

Lightning 1st & Brammo 2nd/3rd in 2012 e-Power/TTX at Laguna Seca - with pictures

See my full race report at: Lightning and Brammo win 2012 e-Power/TTX race at Laguna Seca during Red Bull US Grand Prix

The big takeaway is the speed & lap time improvements over the 2011 and 2010 races.  Where last year 1 bike was ridden at speeds matching the 600cc superbikes (Steve Rapp riding for Mission Motors), this year three bikes were ridden at that speed.  See Lightning and Brammo wins Laguna Seca e-Power/TTX electric motorcycle race

Michael Barnes had the fastest laptime last weekend during qualifying, 1:33.860.  This didn't beat Steve Rapp's 1:31 last year, but came close, and Barnes did not attempt to beat that time during the race.  He was focused instead on staying just far enough ahead of Steve Atlas to win, but not so far ahead that he would have risked running out of kilowatt-hours.

However, Barnes, Steve Atlas and Eric Bostrom (new rider for Brammo) all had lap times during the race which were faster than the slowest of the bikes which qualified in the Daytona Sportbike (600cc gas bike) race held the same weekend.

This is a big stride forward for electric motorcycle racing - last year it was one bike reaching this level, now there are three.  And the next two bikes were ridden for lap times within one second of the slowest of the 600cc gas bikes, making it five bikes in total that are within range of speed parity with gas bikes.




















Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lightning takes the Pole in e-Power/TTX at Laguna Seca

Unsurprisingly the top three positions on the grid for this weekends e-Power/TTX race are Lightning and Brammo, closely followed by Meunch Racing. However there are some surprises and disappointments further down the grid. I'll do my best to add pictures to this later.

The day offered excellent racing conditions, with clear skies, and temperatures in the low 70's. For those of you baking in other parts of the country, Laguna Seca is close enough to the Pacific coast that ocean breezes keep the place cool. Shortly after the race the sky clouded over, and the temperature took a nose dive and we were all shivering. The weather may affect the race tomorrow, because it is scheduled for 10:20 AM and this morning at that time the weather was grey and foggy.

One of the surprises was with Jeremiah Johnson, BE-EV.COM. He didn't arrive at the track until today, and had spent most of the day trying to assemble his bike. Unfortunately he didn't finish it in time, but fortunately Zero Motorcycles had a spare bike on hand and somehow he ended up riding a Zero bike during qualifying. said "You want to ride one of ours?" He accepted, and was able to get on the track, only to face another disappointment I'll go over in a second.

As has been true all season the top bikes and the slow bikes were in a huge contrast with each other. I was positioned at turn 11, this sharp turn just before the front straight, which meant I had an excellent view of their acceleration out of the corner. The Lightning/Brammo/Meunch guys accelerated past the Zero/Schless guys like they were standing still. As I've written before, this is all about the current state of the competition, there aren't enough of either the fast or slow bikes to make a full race grid, so in the TTXGP the fast and slow bikes are mixed together in one grid.

The two Lightning bikes performed great. Michael Barnes took first place in the grid with lap times spread around the mid 1:30 range, the fastest lap time was 1:33.860. Compared to the AMA 600cc SuperBike qualifying that ran earlier today, this lap speed would have placed 24th in that field, beating three riders. It's about 7 seconds slower than the slowest lap time in the MotoGP field, 1:26.887, whose qualifying race also ran earlier today. By the way, that slowest lap time, by rider Steve Rapp, disqualified him from the MotoGP this weekend.

Michael wasn't entirely happy with his result. It was close to if not faster than Steve Rapp's winning time last year, but did not beat the 1:31 lap record Rapp set during qualifying last year. Michael still believes he can wring a bit more speed out of the bike, so we'll have to see what he does tomorrow.

Next was Eric Bostrom, the new rider with Brammo. His lap times were in the 1:37-1:39 range, with the best lap time being 1:37.171. I overheard him talking with Brian Wisman after the race, and it's clear he is still learning the bike and is requesting steeper regenerative braking.

Next was Tom Montano, the new rider with Lightning Motorcycles. His fastest lap time was 1:38.664.

Next was Matthias HImmelman, Meunch Racing. His range was between 1:38 and 1:43, with a best lap time of 1:38.951. He was happy with the result, and pleased to be here.

Next was Steve Atlas whose qualifying race was cut short by a bike failure. Wisman was guessing (having not seen the bike) that it was a blown fuse in the 12 volt system. In any case Atlas' best lap time was 1:41.044 putting him in 5th place, but we know that he can get more speed out of this bike. He is a wild card to watch for tomorrow.

Next was Katja Poensgen, with Meunch Racing. Her range was 1:48-1:54, with a best lap time of 1:48.587.

Now is the time to discuss the major disappointment with the qualifying round. There were another five bikes in the starting grid of the qualifying round, but only six bikes/riders were deemed to qualify for the race.

Remember that I said above that Steve Rapp did not qualify for the MotoGP in todays MotoGP qualifying round. The FIM (and other race organizations) have a rule that the bikes in the starting grid must have a best lap time within a given percentage of the fastest bike. The faster the fastest bike goes, the faster that threshold goes.  Because this is a FIM e-Power race, and not a TTXGP race, the rule applies.  The FIM e-Power, the organization in charge of this weekends race, is enforcing this rule. Because of Michael Barnes 1:33.860 best lap, the threshold fell at 1:52.632.

The first of the disappointments was the Virginia Tech team. They had a technical problem with the bike, and was not able to complete a full lap because the bike got on the track at the very end of the qualifying period. Their bike is listed in a "Not Classified" section, and it's not clear whether that means they did not qualify or what. I'm assuming they did not qualify?

The other four bikes, Ely Schless's Protomoto, and the three Zero S's, all had best lap times slower than the 1:52 threshold. The fastest of them was Ely Schless with Protomotp, with a 1:57.990 best lap time. Next was Ted Rich, a best lap time of 2:00.057, followed by Kenyon Kluge, best lap time of 2:01.101, and finally Jeremiah Johnson, best lap time of 2:07.185.

What this means is that out of 11 bikes, FIM's rules disqualified all but 6 of the bikes. The rule did neatly split the field between the fast bikes and the slow bikes, for whatever that's worth.

There are two reasons the FIM officials give for the rule. The first is rider safety. As I've said, the fast bikes are passing the slow bikes as if the slow bikes are standing still. What this means is that there's a closing speed difference between fast and slow bikes on the order of 60 miles/hr. This simply is not safe, and it's a surprise that the TTXGP has not had any wrecks due to this issue. Of course the riders all know about the issue and are probably taking precautions among each other.

Second issue is to guard the competitiveness of the sport, or some such. What it boils down to is that the best racing is between evenly matched bikes. When there's this huge of a disparity, the race looks a little odd. It isn't as much fun to watch riders on slow bikes being totally smoked by riders on fast bikes. It is more fun to watch riders on evenly matched bikes dicing it up with each other.

Race time tomorrow is 10:20 AM.

Brammo's new motors from Parker Hannifin - could they finally beat Lightning?

At the REFUEL race, Steve Atlas implied to me that Brammo was about to change something on the Empulse RR that would add some speed (reduce lap times).  It sounded like "better motor" and we now have verification on the Brammo blog that they've changed the motor (see link below).

The other change in the team is the addition of a second bike, to be ridden by a top AMA Superbike racer, Eric Bostrom.  While he didn't make it out yesterday in practice I suppose we should expect good things from him.

As for the new motor - the blog entry doesn't say much.  It does acknowledge that the Empulse RR has been at a speed disadvantage compared with the other top bikes in the TTXGP field.  These are Lightning and MotoCzysz.  The blog entry does say "now that we have the chassis setup as well as we do, we should be able to put a good deal more of the available power provided by the new powerplant to the ground."

While Brammo won the 2011 North America Championship, the team lost to Lightning and MotoCzysz on every outing.  At Laguna Seca last year the team finished in fourth place.

At the 2012 REFUEL race (also at Laguna Seca) Steve Atlas' best lap time was 1:40.441 and he's already beaten that time with a 1:39.233.  But of course Lightning hasn't been sitting still, and Michael Barnes beat that time with a 1:35 while complaining about preparation and promising to beat Steve Rapp's 1:31 time from 2011's Laguna Seca Race.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday's practice round at Laguna Seca e-Power/TTX

Due to a little SNAFU in charging my electric car, I wasn't able to make it to the track today, however I have my press pass and will be there bright and early tomorrow. In the meantime I see the TTXGP crew have posted a race report which you can read at

The thing which stands out is that Lightning Motors best time was pretty close to Steve Rapp's best time last year with the Mission Motors bike. Their best time was nearly fast enough to qualify for MotoGP bikes. Michael Barnes is quoted saying this about his performance: Michael Barnes: “We were a little behind the eight ball today and went out on a bike that was not as good as I know it should be. We didn't have a chance to put tyre warmers on so the bike was cold, and improvements need to be made with the suspension and geometry wise. Having said that there were definitive improvements to the bikes handling since Infineon our speed is strong as it always has been and the handling is getting each time better when we are out on the track. My goal this weekend was to beat Rapps’ qualifying time from last year as I know the bike is capable. We are close today in the free practice and hope to close the gap in tomorrow's Qualifier but I am not sure we will have that magic set up that we are working toward.”

While Brammo brought two bikes, one of them was having its own SNAFU ("going in reverse") and wasn't able to go out for the practice round.

The Zero guys are again riding unmodified Zero S's which I find surprising given that the FIM staff have enforced a 20% rule the last two years. This is a standard feature in motorcycle racing, and is meant to ensure the bikes on the grid are close in power. I've seen the FIM staff disqualify teams which they'd paid to have flown from Europe. The Zero S's are so much slower than the top bikes, that they'll surely fall afoul of this rule...? We'll see tomorrow after the qualifying round.  UPDATE: As we see in the comments below, Jeremiah Johnson informs us that if Barnes beats Rapp's time from last year, then the cutoff is 1:49.  Which cuts out several of the teams listed below.  And, by the way, now that we mention Jay, why isn't he in this results list?  I'll have to find that out tomorrow.


no rider team time gap top Speed (km)
80 Michael Barnes Barracuda/Lightning 1'35.024 219.7
58 Steve Atlas Team Icon Brammo 1'39.233 4.209 4.209 197.0
89 Tom Montano Barracuda/Lightning 1'43.144 8.120 3.911 193.3
49 Matthias Himmelmann Muench Racing 1'44.211 9.187 1.067 199.3
65 Katje Poensgen Muench Racing 1'53.453 18.429 9.242 165.4
72 Robert Hancock Virgina Tech Bolt 2'01.000 25.976 7.547 140.0
11 Ted Rich Zero Motorcycles 2'03.928 28.904 2.928 119.8
96 Kenyon Kluge K2 racing 2'04.064 29.040 0.136 124.9
18 Ely Schless ProtoMoto DNS
32 Eric Bostrom Team Icon Brammo DNS

Circuit Record: Steve Rapp Mission Motors 1'33.194
Circuit Best Lap: Steve Rapp Mission Motors 1'31.376 (in qualifying)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

This weekend at Laguna Seca is the 2012 e-Power/TTXGP joint race

I captured this entry list for the 2012 FIM e-Power/TTXGP off of Facebook.  There are some interesting details here.

11 RICH Ted USA Zero Motorcycles ZERO
32 BOSTROM Eric USA Team Icon Brammo 2012 EMPULSE RR
58 ATLAS Steve USA Team Icon Brammo 2012 EMPULSE RR
72 HANCOCK Robert USA Virginia Tech HONDA CBRE
80 BARNES Micael USA Barracuda/Lightning LIGHTNING
89 MONTANO Tom USA Barracuda/Lightning LIGHTNING
96 KLUGE Kenyon USA K Squared Racing ZERO

First is, there are only two Zero bikes unlike the previous TTXGP races that have had four Zero's apiece.  However, the FIM enforces a rule that disqualifies bikes which are too slow.  Because the stock Zero S maxes out at 88 miles/hr, they'll almost certainly be disqualified.  As I noted a couple weeks ago, that fact is to me a major problem with the TTXGP which I think should be addressed by next season.

The other interesting bit about the Zero lineup is Ted Rich.  He has ridden for Lightning Motorcycles, and helped them develop and test the bikes.  

There is a new name for the Team Icon Brammo lineup, Eric Bostrom.  The press release for this is pasted in below.  There had been rumors that Shelina Moreda would become Brammo's second rider, but this appears to not be the case.

Lightning Motorcycles has two bikes again, this time their second rider is Tom Montano.  He is a top AMA Pro racer, and also rode the Mission Motors entry in the 2009 TTXGP on the Isle of Man.  

What's not shown in this lineup is that Lightning Motorcycles superbikes will be wearing new colors due to a collaboration with Barracuda Networks.  Additionally the Lightning paddock will be powered by a pair of trailer-mounted solar panel array's for true zero emissions racing.

Jeremiah Johnson is on the roster again, and it appears this time he'll actually be participating.  I see a posting from him on Facebook saying he's at the registration hotel in Monterey, getting ready to go to the track.  He showed up at the first TTXGP event in North America, during 2009 at the Vintage Motorcycle Days in Ohio, and suggested he would be racing in the TTXGP starting in 2010.  Okay, 2010 didn't happen, but he's starting his participation in 2012.

That Münch Racing is bringing two bikes is interesting, if only because of the distance they are traveling.  In the 2010 and 2011 Laguna Seca races they brought only one bike, despite racing with multiple bikes in Europe.

The last team is Proto Moto, which is a one-man show run by Ely Schless, a guy with a couple decades or more of experience in electric racing.  

By the way it is only the two Münch Racing bikes which will be any representation of the e-Power series, all of the remaining teams are participants in the North America TTXGP series.  Officially speaking the event is a FIM e-Power race, and the TTXGP is simply invited to participate in a form of collaboration.  Effectively, however, this is a TTXGP race because every team participates in TTXGP races, and only one of the teams (Münch Racing) also races in e-Power.

Team Icon Brammo Adds Legendary Motorcycle Rider Eric Bostrom to Roster

ASHLAND, Ore.; July 26, 2012 – Further solidifying Brammo’s leading role in the electric vehicle racing space, Brammo, Inc. announced today Eric Bostrom will be joining Steve Atlas as a rider for the world-famous Team Icon Brammo.

Bostrom joins Team Icon Brammo with over two decades of experience riding for companies such as Ducati, Harley Davidson Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki. As Brammo racers, Atlas and Bostrom will provide instrumental feedback on Brammo’s racing bike, the Brammo Empulse RR, while promoting Brammo as the leading electric two-wheel vehicle brand.

“Team Icon Brammo is excited to add a rider of Eric’s caliber to our team headed into the most important race weekend of the season, the TTXGP North America Championship 2012 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca,” said Brian Wismann, Director of Product Development for Brammo and Manager of Team Icon Brammo. “Eric’s insight and experience will be an instrumental resource in continuing to develop the promising potential of electric motorcycle technology.”

Brammo is leading in the development and production of electric motorcycles, largely thanks to insights weaned from Team Icon Brammo. In 2009, Brammo competed in the first ever TTXGP race and finished as the top American team. Since then, racing has been core to the development of Brammo’s consumer and racing motorcycles, including the Empulse R, which is the world’s fastest production electric motorcycle for consumers. Further elevating their rich racing history, Brammo won the 2011 TTXGP North American Championship, with the Empulse RR and rider Steve Atlas.

“As I’ve always said, I have a love for all things on two wheels. Since my departure from Superbike competition, I’ve been competing in bicycle racing which has sparked my growing compassion for green power,” said Bostrom. “Having ridden both Brammo’s street and race models, the progress electric bikes have made in their short existence is nothing short of phenomenal. Our quest to develop the best bikes of tomorrow is off and to the races, and leaving a smaller footprint along the way.”

About Brammo
Brammo, Inc., is a leading electric vehicle technology company headquartered in North America. Brammo designs and develops electric vehicles including the Encite™, Enertia™, Empulse™ and Engage™ motorcycles. Brammo is the current TTXGP eGrandPrix champion of North America. Brammo is an OEM supplier of its innovative Brammo Digital Drivetrain™ systems including the Brammo Power™ battery pack and Brammo Power™ vehicle management system. Brammo has vehicle distribution and marketing operations in North America, Europe and Asia. To learn more, visit  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Shawn Lawless hits 125 miles/hr in 1/8th mile ET 5.924 with electric dragster

This in from Chip Gribben on the NEDRA group on Facebook:
Shawn Lawless blasted his full rail dragster, Matrix, to 125 mph in the 1/8 mile today at the Dragway of Magnolia in Ohio with an ET of 5.924. The dragster features a 363 volt A123 pack built by Derek Barger, twin GE 11 inch motors and a 2K Zilla Controller. Magnolia's track is an 1/8 mile track.

Official report on round 2 eFXC/TTXGP Australia 2012 series

The eFXC/TTXGP series headed to sunny Queensland Raceway for round two of a highly contested battle between Daniel Sailor (Ripperton Racing) and Jason Morris (Catavolt / Impact AV), the two having won a race a piece at the first round, the weather conditions promised to be good and true to form it delivered a beautiful weekend of racing.

Catavolt’s team owner Jon Eggenhuizen, had been busy redesigning the rear suspension and increasing the rim width of their machine. Daniel Sailor had spent considerable time beefing up his motor to try and put some extra punch in getting his machine off the mark.
Saturday saw qualifying produce some interesting results, Jason MORRIS (NSW) (Catavolt/Impact AV) took pole with a 1:34.099 on his final qualifying lap, while Daniel produced a 1:37.350. Catavolts extra KW’s making the difference.

While Catavolt’s times looked good they were experiencing some heat issues with the Enertrac hub motor in its new spoked mounting and this would prove to be a challenge for the team over the weekend.

Saturdays race produced some great racing and plenty of drama, Jason Morris got off to a great start but was closely followed by Daniel, the Ripperton machine still seemed to have the edge in the handling department but was being outgunned by Catavolt’s dual powered hub motor. But that was to change on lap 3 as the heat build-up started to trip the thermally protected Enertrac motor, leaving Morris to try and protect his lead with a much reduced power output.

Sunday produced another beautiful day as Queensland Raceway readied itself for the second of the eFXC/TTXGP races. The race started with the Catavolt machine jumping to a commanding lead as Sailor’s machine seem to bog down at the start, producing a 5 second gap at the end of the first lap. The gap lengthened to 7 then 8 seconds in the 2nd and 3rd laps, but once more the heat gremlins hit and Morris was left to nurse the bike to the finishing line to take the chequered Flag by 4 .07seconds.

PosNoNamew/fieldRace 1Race 2Total             
11Jason MORRIS (NSW)47222594             
246Daniel SAILER (NSW)47252294

Sunday, July 22, 2012

KillaJoule achieves 188 miles/hr at Loring Timing Association speed trials

KillaCycle Racing took the KillaJoule to the Loring Timing Association speed trials last week, setting a  top speed of 188.063 miles/hr.  The KillaJoule is a fully streamlined electric motorcycle.

In postings on their Facebook page (see links below) Eva explained that "KillaJoule ran mechanically absolutely perfectly. It ran straight as a string, stable and strong." Unfortunately they had a problem where "it shut down" if held at full throttle for a long time. Eva wrote "We believe that we have made a mistake while setting up the extremely sophisticated Rinehart motor controllers. These are state-of-the-art AC controllers and have a large number of parameters that can be tuned to give exactly the throttle response and behavior we want. If these parameters are set so they conflict, it can result in an unexpected shut down. We couldn't figure it out on the track, but we are quite sure that it is simply a stupid little mistake somewhere in the setup. Except for that user-error, the Rinehart controllers and the gorgeous EVO motor work wonderfully. "

Eva went on to say the KillaJoule is quite capable of speeds well over 200 miles/hr. Being unable to hold full throttle for long made it impossible to achieve the speeds KillaJoule is capable of running.

We see they're planning to return to the BUB Speed Trials at Bonneville in late August.

While it's a motorcycle, it's a three wheeler due to this sidecar-like thing

--- Lovely Land Speed racing at Loring --- 
Having a great time at Loring. Most racer-friendly land speed event imaginable. Most sensible, thorough and friendly tech-inspection we ever had. As any Bonneville land speed racer will tell you, tech inspection is in best case painful and can be horrible. Not so at Loring. They want you to be safe, for sure, but they are not out to prove how smart they are or how stupid you are. Totally professional. No big egos. We are definitely coming back.

--- KillaJoule is race ready! ---

Team Catavolt seems to have won TTXGP Australia Round 2

The 2012 TTXGP Australia series held round two this weekend, but the TTXGP website does not have official results from the event.  In the meantime we learn from Team Catavolt's Facebook page that they won, but there are no details.  In the lack of details, here are a few pictures we could find.

TTXGP Warm-Up Preparation - Timelapse

#ttxgp Round 2 2012 at Queensland Raceway - #catavolt and #ripperton preparing for their warm-up track time. @a4x4kiwi makes a star appearance early on. #elmoto
TTXGP Round 2 Fly-By's

#ttxgp Round 2 2012 at Queensland Raceway - #catavolt and #ripperton zooming past over several laps. It's one of the things I love about electric motorbike racing - the almost uncanny silence. With the #catavolt bike you can only hear the noise of air resistance. This is the way racing should be.

Getting ready to race

Just leaving for TTXGP round two in Queensland -

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Lawless Electric Rocket, achieved 201 mph @ 6.94 sec in drag racing 1/4 mile

I don't know much more about this than what's in the following video, and the comment under the video reads:
The Lawless Electric Rocket bike piloted by Larry "Spiderman" McBride made history May 4, 2012 with a National Electric Drag Racing Association (NEDRA) DMC/A3 record run of 6.940 at 201.37 mph making it the first electric vehicle to break 200 mph in the quarter mile! The 355 volt Rocket bike was built by Lawless Industries and Orange County Choppers.
The record as achieved at the Virginia Motorsports Park.

Whether this is the fastest electric motorcycle in the world depends on how you define the terms.  This is certainly blistering fast, and an amazing achievement.  On the other hand in other speed racing formats (Bonneville Land Speed racing) the record is 215 miles/hr average with a top speed of 218 miles/hr recorded during that run.  Land speed racing is a different animal from drag racing, making it hard to compare the results.  The last time I made this sort of comment, someone got upset that I was dissing drag racing.  What I'm trying to do is give some context.

NEDRA posted some info here:-  (the pictures below come from there)

Larry "Spiderman" McBride suits up.
His brother, Steve McBride, makes last minute adjustments to the bike.

Rocket is ready to roll with a new tire and a fresh charge.
Larry's burnout just prior to the record run.

The record time slip

OSU's Buckeye Electric Motorcycle sets ECTA electric motorcycle speed record

The Buckeye Electric Motorcycle Race Team set an East Coast Timing Association (ECTA) speed record for electric motorcycles, July 8, 2012.  The record speed was 144.352mph at the East Coast Timing Association Ohio Mile Track located in Wilmington, Ohio.  The team is claiming to now hold the title of fastest collegiate electric motorcycle, but I believe that should be contextualized by saying "within the East Coast Timing Association".  I believe there are collegiate electric motorcycle teams which have set faster times at Bonneville salt flat events.

This beat the teams 2011 record of 112.349mph by 30 miles/hr.  The new record is in the "Altered Electric A3" class.

The increase was due primarily to having borrowed a FlightPower lithium cobalt oxide battery pack from Lawless Industries.  Shawn Lawless is an electric drag race vehicle builder and racer, and has been supporting this team for a couple years.

Asst. Prof. Marcello Canova, faculty advisor, “The latest ECTA speed record is a fantastic achievement for the team, and an important learning experience for the design of the new electric race motorcycle. Most of all, it shows the skills, ingenuity, and resilience of this student group, able to build an electric bike from ground up in less than two years and achieve two speed records.”

The teams goals are now moving to: a) build a new bike that can go faster than 150 miles/hr (a feat few electric motorcycles have done), and b) race in the Isle of Man TT ZERO race.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Himmelman wins TTXGP Europe round 2 during wet weekend at Snetterton

Last weekend the TTXGP came to the Snetterton track for round 2 of the 2012 TTXGP Europe series. It appears there were four teams:  Meunch Racing, Zongshen (2 bikes), BEMSEE Racing, and Performance Bike.  It also appears to have been a wet weekend, the pictures show a damp track, and one of their reports says that while the F1 Grand Prix had been unable to hold its qualifying, the TTXGP had been able to do so.

Meunch of course took the Pole Position in the qualifying round.  Himmelman and the team were concerned because the motor on his bike overheated during the last lap.  He explained some interesting details concerning the bike as so:  “the motor is now 15 years old and has been working very hard recently racing in two consecutive seasons after having sat in the garage doing nothing for over 12 year. Its inventor Roland Garber hadn’t intended it to be used as a race motor when he developed it for Siemens in the early 90’s and was amazed with what the team had achieved to date. When it was designed its application was theoretical and ahead of its time, and in the fact the motor had never been tested at high voltages used in racing until the team came along and adopted it. It wasn’t built for its current purpose, and sometimes, they push it is a little too hard. However, all the safety features kick in and the bike behaves as it should giving this affable racer pole for the race."

The Zongshen team also had some trouble, when the second rider, Tang Yu, crashed damaging one of the Agni motors on his bike.  The video below shows the wreck occur.  Whoopsie.  Ho Chi Fung also explained the teams performance saying “A track like Snetterton is suited to teams racing bikes with powerful motors as it is uncomplicated with lots of straights, not ideal to demonstrate to excellent handling the Zongshen ZPE 001R can deliver. “

Results from the qualifying round were:

Pole 49 Himmelman Muench Racing 1:22.458
 2     59 Ho Chi Fung Zongshen 1:28.149
 3     53 Jeremy Hill BEMSEE Racing  1:37.138
 4     26 Tang Yu Zongshen 1:42.351
 5       5 Emma Franklin Performance bike 1:47.658

Fung, Hill, and Himmelman

Between Saturday and Sunday, Jeremy Hill seems to have changed the name of his team from BEMSEE to Lifestyle Transformation.  We also see in the race results, below, that Jeremy and Emma were both riding Mavizen TTX02's.  While at the Portland race, if I recall correctly, Azhar Hussain said to me Mavizen had found some spare parts and built a couple new TTX02's for this race.  However, the race report says Hill was riding an unmodified TTX02 from the 2010 season.  His performance in the race, holding 1st or 2nd for most of the race, is testament to rider skill and intimate knowledge of the track, because the TTX02 was never a top performer even in 2010 and for a rider to hold a leading position with one for so long, in 2012, is nothing short of amazing.

The wet conditions continued on Sunday, with the Sun showing up 20 minutes before race time.

At the start Himmelman somehow ended up in 4th place, with Ho Chi Fung and Jeremy Hill in the front.  Himmelman quickly got to third place, but Fung and Hill stayed in front for 9 laps battling for first place.  As I noted above, for Hill to be holding a leading position in the race for so long while riding a Mavizen TTX02 was amazing.  Unfortunately, Hill "lost the front" and appears to have crashed at turn 11 which appears to have been the site of many wrecks that weekend.  Himmelman waited in 3rd place partly out of concern for the motor, choosing to instead make a final push on the last  straightaway to win the race.  The gambit appears to have worked, because he took first place.

8th July 2012.
Pos No. Name Laps Total Tm Diff  Best Tm Sponsor/bike
1 49 Matthias Himmelmann 11 18:27.5 01:37.3 Muench Racing
Muench TTE
50 59 Ho Chi Fung
11 18:29.7 2.195 01:38.3 Zongshen
ZPE 001R
3 26 Tang Yu 10 19:53.6 1 Lap 01:56.5 Zongshen
ZPE 001R
4 5 Emma Franklin 9 18:36.2 2 Laps 02:00.2 Performance Bikes
Mavizen TTX02
DNF 53 Jeremy Hill 8 13:28.7 DNF 01:39.0 Lifestyle Transformation
Mavizen TTX02

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Moto Electra Racing attending Cycle World Rolling Concours, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, and has a cool new dashboard

A few little updates from Moto Electra Racing, the sometimes- TTXGP racing team run by Brian Richardson which is unfortunately unable to race in the 2012 season.  Of course that hasn't stopped them from doing other things, cool and interesting things.

First - they'll be attending the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days event at the Mid-Ohio Raceway on the weekend of July 24.  In 2009 the TTXGP made its first North America appearance at that same event, and the early version of Moto Electra showed up to race, but in 2010 and 2011 they were instead at the TTXGP/e-Power event at Laguna Seca.

The Vintage Motorcycle Days is a fun event, focusing on, of course, Vintage motorcycles and racing with Vintage motorcycles.  It features a huge swap meet of vendors selling parts and bikes.  Additionally, Craig Vetter has gone for several years to show his efforts at full fairing design.  What I'm trying to do is make it sound appealing to go, to perhaps see Moto Electra, perhaps see Craig Vetter, perhaps see a bunch of vintage motorcycles, etc.

Second - they'll be at the Cycle World Rolling Concours at the Indianapolis Speedway, Saturday August 18, 2012.  I don't know anything about this event, and details are probably on the Cycle World website.

Lastly - Brian Richardson has posted a series of Facebook videos that shows he's integrated an iPad on the Moto Electra bike, to add some custom control panels.  One thing this can do is synthesize any kind of motorcycle sound you like, and it's connected with the throttle such that as you twist the throttle the chosen roar is emitted from loud speakers.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

In TTXGP, the eSuperStock is an interesting experiment, but the golden ticket? No.

Over on the TTXGP Matters blog is an interesting read suggesting that the eSuperStock Award in the 2012 North America TTXGP has brought us great racing, and that it's a great success.  I suppose it all depends on how you look at it, but I find myself being disappointed with the eSuperStock bikes and think the TTXGP field must move away from having huge speed disparities.  What makes the current crop of eSuperStock bikes disappointing is that they're running on the same field with top end bikes from Brammo, MotoCzysz and Lightning.  Those three literally run rings around the other bikes, and while it was acceptable in 2010 and even 2011, we need to move beyond this.

Steve Atlas, Empulse RR, Laguna Seca, 2011
This condition exists in the North America TTXGP, because I believe the Europe and Australian series don't have such wide performance gaps.  In the NA series we've always had a small set of competitors, mostly Lightning, who are pushing the envelope towards proper superbike speeds.  In 2012 it is Brammo, MotoCzysz and Lightning who are doing this, and unfortunately there have been reliability issues getting in the way of each of these teams in competition with each other.  The lap times each team has turned in this year have been closer to the 600cc superbikes than than in previous years.  Where in 2010 the top laptimes were 15 seconds off the superbikes, now they're just a couple seconds off.

In part we want to get the attention and participation of regular motorcycle racing.  To do that two benchmarks must be met:  a) speed, b) race distance.  The top end bikes are closing in on the speed benchmark, but on 20+ mile races where in gas motorcycle racing they go for nearly 60 miles per race.

Putting the Zero S's with their 88 miles/hr top speed against the Brammo, MotoCzysz and Lightning bikes simply makes the Zero S's look slower than they actually are, and sends the wrong signal.

The Zero S's have a top speed of 88 miles/hr, and I suppose with the aerodynamic gymnastics the eSuperStock riders have been pulling they'll be going a bit faster than that.  That's a decent top speed, and a relatively-speaking slow bike doesn't have to make for a boring race.  That is, one of the most interesting races I ever watched was a 125cc Honda spec class race at (I believe) Mosport Canada during the 2010 season.  The bikes weren't exactly fast, but because it was a grid of 30ish nearly identical bikes, the racers stayed together pretty well as a pack, and were dicing it up with each other the whole race, and rider skill was a major factor in the race.  A full grid of Zero S's even with an 88 miles/hr top speed, I'm sure, would make for an interesting race.

The Brammo, MotoCzysz and Lightning bikes on the other hand are going half again as fast.  At the PRI race, Steve Atlas lapped the whole field, and had lapped a couple riders twice.  During the 2010 and 2011 seasons Michael Barnes had done the same riding the Lightning bike.  The point is that the field is so completely imbalanced that the top bikes on the grid are passing the slowest bikes as if they're standing still, despite the fact that the Zero S bike being passed is going flat out at a respectable 88 miles/hr.

In 2010 it felt like we were having a miracle happening just having the bikes on the track.  All the bikes that year were some kind of experimental machine, and I'd say this applied even to the Mavizen-supplied bikes.  It was okay to have the huge performance disparities, because it was amazing enough that the race simply existed.

In 2012 the quality level has raised pretty darn high.  The Zero S's are manufactured quality bikes, offering much the same performance the Mavizen and other dual-Agni bikes of 2010 offered, meaning that in two years we've moved from experimental bikes to manufactured bikes.  Even the one-off bikes from Brammo, MotoCzysz and Lightning are light years better than the bikes they had in 2010.

Where I'm concerned is the picture being shown when you have ultra-fast bikes racing against fast bikes, and the ultra-fast bikes are passing the fast bikes as if they're standing still.  It's amazing to see the ultra-fast bike do that, but it makes the fast bike look slow.

The problem is in getting a large enough grid so that the TTXGP crew can simply put on the race.  What the TTXGP staff tell me is that race weekend organizers (tracks, the AMA, etc) require the TTXGP to promise N bikes WILL be in the race grid.   This is why we have fast bikes racing slow bikes in the TTXGP.  Ideally the fast bikes would be in their race, the slow bikes in their race, and everything would be hunky dory.  This is how it happens in gas bike racing.  You don't ride a Honda 125 in a 600cc AMA Superbike race.  You might use the Honda 125 as a pit bike to carry stuff for the 600cc bike to race with, but you don't race the 125cc bike in the 600cc race.  You race 125cc bikes in 125cc races.

The problem with eSuperStock is that it doesn't do a good job of defining a "race class."  And, by the way, the eSuperStock is not a "class" anyway, it's an award.  If it were a "class" it would be listed in the TTXGP rules, and it is not listed there.  The TTXGP organizers have been careful to call it an award all season, except for a couple regrettable slips of the tongue at the Infineon race.

The eSuperStock concept is defined as a production bike of over 25 units.  Great.  This year there is only one such bike which qualifies, the Zero S and Zero DS (which are essentially the same, but for suspension differences).  Next year, however, there will be Empulse R's and Empulse TTX's both available presumably in production volume over 25 units.  Additionally CRP may be back with a volume production version of the eCRP.  And if Richard Hatfield is to be believed, he has the capability to manufacture duplicates of the Lightning bike, and if there were enough teams willing to pony up $35,000 apiece he could conceivably produce 25 of those bikes.  That would mean a huge range of performance disparity all qualifying for eSuperStock.

The purpose of the eSuperStock is to experiment with a long term goal of developing spec classes that will lower the cost of entry for teams hoping to race electric.  However, such spec classes should be defined on some kind of performance benchmark rather than defining it by production volume.  Again, this is how it's done in gas bike racing, where you have the 125cc and 250cc and 600cc classes.

A complication however is the adjustability of electric bikes because the controller can be tuned to a variety of performance levels with the click of a mouse button.  A team could qualify their bike for a given spec class with a detuned controller, then turn the controller up to 11 for the race, right?

I've rambled enough on this that surely it will cause a few people to have points of view to share.  Discuss below.

Read Richard Dort's point of view here:-

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Video's of Quimera's All Electric Drift Car (AEDC), in Goodwood Hill Climb, and in Barcelona

Quimera AEDC at Goodwood - Hill Climb - 29th June 2012

AEDC running in a street show during the Presentation of the Altran Excellence Centre for New Automotive Technologies (Barcelona, 10th of May 2012)

AEDC - All Electric Drift Car in Diagonal Avenue, heading to Hotel Rey Juan Carlos (May, 2012)

AEDC - All Electric Drift Car cruising up Paseo de Gracia at night (May, 2012)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Initial report on REFUEL 2012 electric car and electric motorcycle racing at Laguna Seca

I had the best of intentions to post several quick reports from the track throughout the day at the REFUEL 2012 event, but did only the one.  Now it's late at night and I just want to go to sleep.  But it'll be good to write up a quick something about this awesome day of electric car and motorcycle racing at Laguna Seca.

First, the event was LOTS bigger than last years REFUEL race.  This is the fourth year of the REFUEL series, and it has simply gotten bigger and better every year.  What's made the difference is that manufacturers are making real electric vehicles, in quantity, now.  The first REFUEL race in 2009 was a lot of conversion vehicles and a few Tesla Roadsters.  This year we had a whole flotilla of production electric motorcycles from Zero Motorcycles, and in the cars we had Tesla Roadsters, Nissan Leaf's, BMW ActiveE's, a souped up Coda electric sedan, a couple Chevy Volts, and, get this, six Tesla Model S's, as well as a few conversion cars.

Unfortunately, of the top end electric motorcycles, only Brammo's Empulse RR showed up.  Nobody from Lightning, MotoCzysz or Mission.  We'll have to wait for the Laguna Seca e-Power/TTXGP for that, and even there it's very unlikely Mission will show up.

There were maybe 30 electric cars in the race.  This was a seriously big grid of electric cars, and it was about 10000% awesome to see the track packed to the gills with electric cars.  And for them to be as awesome as the Tesla Model S is, was way more exciting than I could imagine.

I'm not going to post numbers yet - but in the time trial event, the Model S's smoked the Roadsters.  Of the 25 cars in the time trial, the top three spots were won by Model S drivers.  Think about this - the Model S is a full size sedan, okay probably they were Performance models(?), and they beat Tesla Roadsters, which are ostensibly race cars!

One little factoid about the Tesla results is that Joe Nuxoll, a former Tesla employee who is a racing instructor in his spare time, was not a driver for the Tesla team this year.  Perhaps the Tesla results would have been a bit better had he driven with them this time around.  Last year, when he was a Tesla employee, he drove a Roadster during the REFUEL event, and drove a 1:50 lap time in a Tesla Roadster.  This year, despite the Model S's beating the Roadster's this year, Joe's 1:50 record stands unbroken.  According to Joe, some of the drivers for Tesla this year are good race drivers, and should have been able to beat his time, but they didn't.

The Leaf's did surprisingly well, in some cases, as did the souped up Coda.

In the motorcycles, the Brammo Empulse RR was of course about a zillion times faster than the Zero S's.  The Zero S's have a top speed of 88 miles/hr, and the Empulse RR can maybe hit 150 miles/hr.  Their lap times were close to 2:00, his was 1:40.  It's too bad the proper competitors to the Empulse RR was not there.

Driver debrief and training at REFUEL

The REFUEL event is more than just a track day for electric vehicle owners. Speed Ventures is a company that trains race driving and they incorporate classroom time between track sessions.

The group has just had one round of cars and bikes on the track.

This may be the biggest collection of high performance electric vehicles in one place ever.

There are several Tesla Modes S's, and BMW ActiveE's, and Nissan Leaf's, a couple Volt's, a couple conversion electric cars, and a big flotilla of electric motorcycles. Oh and the Kleenspeed EVX-11.