Saturday, September 29, 2012

Audi switched to hybrid endurance race cars due to competitive pressure from Toyota TS030

For the 6 Hours of Bahrain, Audi switched the team lineup to race with two Audi R18 e-tron quattro hybrid race cars.  In prior 2012 endurance races, the team had raced with a split lineup:  The Audi R18 ultra is a conventional LMP sports car with a TDI engine, while the Audi R18 e-tron quattro is a hybrid race car.  It's been clear from the series results that the hybrid race cars, both the Audi e-tron quattro and the Toyota TS030, have performed much better than the conventionally powered race cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Audi went on to win the 6-Hours of Bahrain taking 1st and 2nd after the Toyota TS030 had to retire due to a crash.

As we see by the quotes below, Audi's reasoning is that the team needed a competitive edge due to pressure from the Toyota TS030.  The hybrid drive train gives racers a racing advantage over gas powered racing cars ("It makes it easier for our drivers to overtake other vehicles").

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "We decided to compete with two hybrid vehicles in Bahrain. Our analysis has shown that we’ve got an advantage in traffic with the R18 e-tron quattro. It makes it easier for our drivers to overtake other vehicles. This means that with two hybrid vehicles we’re in a better position in the battle with Toyota. At the same time, we’re giving both our driver teams identical material in the battle for the title. Bahrain will be a completely different race than the previous rounds. We’re expecting very high temperatures. Unlike the most recent round in Brazil, Bahrain also takes a high toll on the brakes, which require good cooling. Handling the tires will be crucial too."
Tom Kristensen, No.2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro:  “In Bahrain, a large number of challenges are awaiting us that we’re all looking forward to. It starts with the hot climate, but the desert sand and driving in darkness are special too. Allan and I are expecting a lot of the R18 e-tron quattro after we were able to make good use of the car’s strengths at Le Mans. That’ll hopefully help us in the battle for the title.”
Allan McNish, No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro:  “I think the race in Bahrain will be a lot different from our run in Brazil. With Le Mans, Silverstone and Interlagos, we’ve been experiencing a nice variety since June, and now something completely different is coming up again. Temperatures in the Middle East at this time of year can go up to 35 or 40 degrees. We’ll only be driving about an hour and a half or a maximum of two hours in daylight. But even when it’s dark the temperatures will hardly drop. I’m expecting a lot of the R18 e-tron quattro, which has been developed quite a bit further since Le Mans.”


Audi takes 1-2 hybrid race car sweep in 6 Hours of Bahrain

In the 6-Hours of Bahrain, in the FIA World Endurance Championship series, Audi won the 1st and 2nd podium spots with the Audi R18 e-tron quattro.  The team had switched to an all-hybrid team for the Bahrain race, and while the regular Audi R18 race car was giving excellent results, the R18 e-tron quattro was giving even better results.  The other hybrid race car, the Toyota TS0300 hybrid, had to bow out after completing 144 laps.

In the 1st hour, the Toyota TS030 hybrid, driven by Nicolas Lapierre, held a 23.3 second lead over the nr1 Audi while the nr2 Audi had an extra long pit stop to repair a broken headlight.  The lead had slipped by the end of the 2nd hour to 19.8 seconds.  However by the end of the 3rd hour the Toyota TS030 had slipped to fifth place, and four laps behind, after a lengthy pit stop to repair a number panel light.  By the end of the 4th hour the TS030 had made up some ground on the nr2 Audi, due to that car having had a long pit stop to replace headlights again.

However by hour 5 trouble struck the TS030 when Nicolas Lapierre went straight on at Turn 12 with front end damage after being involved in an incident with a back marker.  This forced the Toyota hybrid race car out of the race, after the team had made a strong effort to catch up with the Audi's.

This left the two Audi R18 e-tron quattro's clear to take 1st and 2nd.

For the 6-Hours of Bahrain, Audi switched the team lineup to two R18 e-tron quattro's.

The competitors in the FIA World Endurance Championship set off at 1600 hours for the 6 Hours of Bahrain, sixth round of the season, under a scorching sun and a suffocating heat relative to that of the past few days.  That, however, didn’t prevent two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer from emerging ahead of the rest of the field with the No.1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro at the finish.


Hybrid braking zones in use at Bahrain, source:

Nesesis, electric supercar built by Ecotricity, sets UK electric car land speed record

The Nemesis, an electric supercar built by UK electricity supplier Ecotricity, broke the UK electric car land speed record on Thursday. The Nemesis, based on a Lotus Exige chasis, driven by Nick Ponting at Elvington Airfield near York, has set the new UK electric car land speed record at 151 miles/hr, breaking the 137 miles/hr record from a couple years ago set with a car built by Sir Malcolm Campbell and driven by Don Wales.

The Motor Sport Association was on hand to officially verify the record.  The team made two pairs of runs, with the record in each case being the average of two runs in opposite directions.  In the first pair of runs the team broke the existing record with a 148 miles/hr average speed.  On the second pair of runs they upped the record to 151 miles/hr.

Because the Nemesis was built by an all-British engineering team, based on  a British designed and built car (Lotus Exige), sponsored by a UK wind energy company, on a UK track, the company is playing up the "all British" aspect of the record.  It's possible that the electric motors and other components are also from British companies, as there is at least one British company (EVO Electric comes to mind) making a suitable electric motor.

The Nemesis was built on a Lotus Exige bought second hand on eBay. Ecotricity's spec sheet for the car says it has a 0-100 miles/hr time of 8.5 seconds, two 125 kW motors, giving 330bhp, and 600Nm of torque. The battery pack is 96 x 100 A/h 4.2 V pouch lithium polymer cobalt cells for 36 kilowatt hours of electrical capacity. Driving range is 100-150 miles depending on driving habits, and whether you can keep the car at a reasonable speed. It cost under £1 million pounds to build, and an 18 month build time.

Mr Vince said: “This is brilliant. We built the Nemesis to smash the stereotype of electric cars as something Noddy would drive – slow, boring, not cool – and I think we’ve done exactly that today. Hopefully this will further stimulate debate about the future of transport in Britain and how we’ll be getting around when the world runs out of oil. What we’ve been able to demonstrate is that wind-powered cars are not just feasible, but can be a load of fun.”

See: Ecotricity's Nemesis breaks UK electric car land speed record

Ecotricity: and

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Toyota/Audi hybrid's take 1st and 2nd at 6 Hours of Sao Paulo

Toyota Hybrid Racing has racked up the teams first win in the FIA World Endurance Championship race, the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo, this weekend.  The win was with the TS030 Hybrid race car, a car that has been in only 3 races so far, and which already won a podium position at the WEC race at Silverstone, and now a first place finish at Sao Paulo.  In second place was another hybrid race car, an Audi R18 e-tron quattro.

Drivers Alexander Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre won pole position with a 1:22.363 best lap time and 188.3 km/hr fastest speed.  Next was an Audi R18 team consisting of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish, Lucas Di Grassi, with a 1:23.147 best lap and 186.6 km/hr fastest speed.  In 3rd was an Audi R18 e-tron quattro team consisting of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer, Benoit Tréluyer, who had a 1:23.332 best lap time and 186.2 km/hr fastest speed.  This makes for two hybrid race cars in the top 3 of qualifying.

The Toyota TS030 uses a supercapacitor system to store energy captured through regenerative braking.   At the Sao Paulo track there are five designated braking zones for regenerative braking, and the captured energy can be used to give a significant energy boost later on.

This race marks the first time a supercapacitor based system has earned pole position, or won, in a major international race.  This also marks the first win for Toyota, in an FIA World Championship race, since the 1999 Rally of China.

The Toyota team led for the whole race (except for a brief period during a pit stop) eventually extending the lead to just over a minute.   Alex Wurz: “I am proud to be a TOYOTA driver. TOYOTA has developed this incredible hybrid technology and I think we have shown it today. Our TOYOTA HYBRID System – Racing has been simply outstanding. I like Interlagos, a circuit that is really special for me, so it is a great feeling to win here with TOYOTA Racing in only our third race. Thank you to all the team and Nico for their great job. It was not easy and we pushed like crazy. The key was certainly the tyre management and we were able to make the difference in the second stint thanks to our Michelin tyres. Kinoshita san said at Le Mans “you watch, we push”. We will continue in this way during the following races.”  Nicolas Lapierre: “This is a fantastic win for all the team. Since the beginning, we know we have a fast car. After leading at Le Mans we had to work on the reliability. After the podium at Silverstone we had to improve our fuel consumption. We made it. All the team has worked really well since the beginning of the project and this weekend also. Alex did a wonderful job in qualifying to get the pole and during the race we managed the tyres well. The car was handling very well throughout the whole day and the hybrid system gave us again an incredible performance. It is simply wonderful!”

Audi has not released any news about this race yet.  These quotes come from the FIA WEC race report:  2nd - Benoit Treluyer, nr1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro “Honestly I wasn ‘t truly surprised from the beginning, but I was surprised by the tyre degradation. I think we weren’t on the right pressure and that was why I suffered a little bit in the second stint. Unfortunately the safety car didn’t help us either. Anyway we had a good fight with the Toyota and with Alan and we are going to be ready for Bahrain. The race in Silverstone was on our side and the race here was more on their side and Toyota deserve to win this race, they did a great job.” 2nd - Marcel Fassler, nr1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro “First of all I’d like to congratulate Toyota on their win today; it was a really strong performance. The second place is good for the driver championship, which gives us three extra points and this is our main goal for the season. As a driver we all want to win, we can’t be happy to be runner up but today we just didn’t have the performance. I struggled a bit in my second stint with tyre degradation, so it just wasn’t possible.” 2nd - Andre Lotterer, nr1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro “Congratulations to Toyota and the only reaction we can do is drive faster and try to beat them now. They have increased their speed a lot and on high down force tracks, their rear wing helps as well. For sure we weren’t in ideal conditions with our tyres but we collected a lot of data here and we have a chance to improve. We had a good fight with our sister car and I’m pleased we could stay ahead of them.”


FIA WEC Race Report:

Toyota's race reports (Sept 14-15) Pole position for TOYOTA Racing in BrazilVictory in Brazil for TOYOTA RacingQuotes after first win

Sept 10, 2012: Sao Paulo Beckons For TOYOTA Racing

2nd place at WEC Six Hours of Silverstone, Aug 26 2012: 6H Silverstone : First podium finish for TOYOTA Racing

Monday, September 10, 2012

Nissan LEAF NISMO RC takes second to Tesla Roadster in JEVRA 50km electric car race at Japan's Sportsland Sugo

The Japan Electric Racing Vehicle Association recently held an electric car race at Japan's Sportsland Sugo race track.  Going by their website they've held several races this year.  For the first time, on the Sept 4 race, Nissan's LEAF NISMO RC team came to the race for it's first official electric car race.  Judging by the video the racing grid included two Tesla Roadsters, the LEAF NISMO RC, three or four other normal Leaf's and an EV conversion.

The video below shows the event from Nissan's perspective.  At the beginning they explain the LEAF NISMO RC uses the stock Nissan Leaf drive train, but in a different arrangement.  Rather than driving the front wheels, it's driving the rear, and the battery/inverter/controller are located midship for better handling.

The team had wanted badly to beat the Tesla Roadster, but came in second after the Roadster's performance was more than they thought it would be.  The LEAF NISMO RC is lighter and more nimble, and according to the driver has better handling, letting him get ahead of the Roadster in corners.  But as soon as they came out of the corner into the straight, the Roadster would zoom ahead because of the higher power.

On the other hand, the Roadster has a well known problem with overheating.  At the REFUEL races we see Roadsters go into overheating after two laps.  The Roadster driver clearly has enough battery capacity to go for a long race, but has to manage heat in the drive train.  The LEAF NISMO RC driver has to manage battery capacity, and judging by the discussion he had to drive conservatively for all but the last lap to preserve kwh's to make a last spurt to attempt to take the lead.  That's why his last lap was so much faster.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The TTXGP World Championship at Daytona is shaping up to be a massive electric superbike battle

The Barracuda Lightning team won the e-Power/TTXGP race at Le Mans yesterday, validating that teams risky move to race at Le Mans rather than finish out the season with the TTXGP North American championship.

Rather than dissect why Lightning chose this path, let's look forward to what is shaping up to be a seriously exciting TTXGP World Championship race at the Daytona International Raceway.

First, that race will have Muench Racing, Barracuda Lightning, Team Icon Brammo, as a repeat of the lineup at the Laguna Seca e-Power/TTXGP race, and will include Zongshen, assuming they choose to come to America for a race.

At Laguna Seca, Barracuda Lightning's Michael Barnes barely beat Brammo's Steve Atlas to win that race.  However, he beat Muench's Himmelmann by 16+ seconds.

At Le Mans, Barracuda Lightning's Duhamel barely beat Muench's Himmelmann by just shy of 2 seconds.  We wonder how much effect on this result came from Duhamel's lack of experience with this bike, as well as the lack of testing and setup time for Lightning to set up the bike for Duhamel.

At the Miller Motorsports race, Steve Atlas was badly beaten by team-mate Eric Bostrom.

At Le Mans, the Zongshen racers all finished well down from the leading bikes.  However in most of their meetings Zongshen and Himmelman have been duking it out for the lead.

All this suggests there will be a massive battle between racers with the Brammo, Lightning, Muench and Zongshen teams.  It's just not clear enough to predict now who will win.  The margin of victory in each of these pairings has not been clear enough to point to which team has the more powerful motorcycle/rider combination.

Oh, and there will probably be some Zero Motorcycles bikes, and the Virginia Tech team, and maybe even one or two of the teams from Australia.  It's fair to say that in the overall rankings these teams will finish well down, but that doesn't mean their results won't be as interesting.  Effectively the TTXGP has three classes and the competition within these award categories is just as intense.

Lightning wins Le Mans e-Power/TTXGP while Muench wins the TTXGP European championhsip

Miguel Duhamel, riding for Barracuda Lightning, has won the e-Power/TTXGP joint race at Le Mans this weekend while Matthias Himmelmann (Muench Racing) has won the European championship in both series.  Duhamel took the pole position with strong finishes in both qualifying rounds.  Zongshen's Tang Yu came in third place.

Himmelmann led for the first couple laps
There was an intense battle between Duhamel and Himmelmann for first place, and Duhamel finished only 1.929 seconds ahead of Himmelmann.  Duhamel, one of the winningest racers in the AMA, came out of retirement for this race and has had less than 40 laps of track time with it.  “It was a fantastic race, said Miguel Duhamel with his delightful Quebec accent. Lightning is very powerful but you have to pace yourself to preserve the batteries for the end of the race. It’s the first time I’ve taken part in this type of race. I did 40 test laps this week, that’s all.”

The battle between Himmelmann and Duhamel included Himmelmann having his bike stop dead on the track after being out in front for a couple laps. “A bit of rubber got stuck in the circuit breaker. I found the problem after a general check and then I was able to chase down Miguel,” said Himmelmann.  Over on Facebook they explained it thusly: "Furios: Während des Rennens ist ein Stein auf den Notausfallschalter von Matthias Himmelmann gefallen, sodass dieser die TTE-2 ausschaltete. Eine außergewöhnliche Leistung, dass Matthias sich vom sechsten Platz wieder auf den zweiten Platz hochkämpfte!" The translate function unhelpfully provides this amusing attempt: "Furious: During the race a stone on the emergency failure switch by Matthias sky who has fallen, so it turned off the TTE-2. An exceptional performance, that Matthias again highly kämpfte is from sixth to second place! (Translated by Bing)"

Despite finishing second in the race, Himmelmann had a huge lead in points and won the European Championship for the third year running.

Tang Yu

This is the second podium finish for Tang Yu despite his teammates having more powerful bikes. "I am really happy to podium here in Le Mans representing Zongshen Racing and China. After the crash I had in the first practice the team had to work really hard to repair the damage and i am so please to be able to give them a podium position and thank them for building me a good bike. It was an exciting end to the European season and i am very happy to be involved. "

Christian Amendt had a motor failure during qualifying and had to rebuild his bike.  While he was able to finish the race he came in last place.  

Somehow Katja Poensgen only finished a couple laps.  On their facebook page this is written:  "Katja Poensgen, wird mit ihrer gestrigen Bestzeit von 2'05.677 von Platz 4 starten. Nach Problemen von Katja im ersten Qualifying am Donnerstag haben die Ingenieure nochmals Änderungen am Batteriesystem der MÜNCH TTE-2 vorgenommen. "Wir haben noch mal alles geprüft und anhand von Computerauswertungen Änderungen vorgenommen. Sie ist heute ohne technische Probleme die Distanz gefahren. Alle taktischen Maßnahmen für das Rennen um die Meisterschaft sind getroffen und abgesprochen," so Thomas Schuricht nach dem zweiten Qualifying. Das Rennen wird am Freitag den 7. September um 16:00 Uhr stattfinden."  Or: "Katja Poensgen, uses their yesterday's best lap of 2'05. 677 of 4th place start. After problems by Katja in the first qualifying session on Thursday the engineers have made again TTE-2 changes to the battery system of Munch. "We have again everything checked and changes made on the basis of computer evaluations." The distance is driven today without any technical problems. "All tactical measures for the race for the Championship are met and talked," so Thomas Schuricht after the second qualifying session. The race will be held on Friday 7 September at 16: 00. (Translated by Bing)"

Second qualifying round results from:

The results:










117Barracuda LightningMiguel Duhamel1:49.200*1:50.63015 137.967
249Muench Racing Mattias Himmelmann1:50.8341:50.144*150:00.944136.785
359Zongshen RacingHo Chi Fung2:05.431*2:10.827120:16.231120.144
465Muench RacingKatje Poensgen2:05.677*2:07.322110:16.477119.879
526Zongshen RacingTang Yu 2:09.971*90:20.771115.918
670Zongshen RacingDavid Dumain 2:13.665*70:24.465112.715
736Epo-bike.deChristian Adment 2:15.900*170:26.700110.861
* Best time
Qualification time: 2:17.910 (120%)
The results are provisional until the time limit for protests and appeals.

Post-race relaxation?  Miguel Duhamel in foreground, Richard Hatfield in background.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Lightning leads after first qualifying round at e-Power/TTXGP Le Mans joint race

As I noted the other day, the Barracuda Lightning Motorcycles Racing team has gone to Le Mans for the e-Power/TTXGP race.  As expected the teams rider, Miguel Duhamel, is at the top of the results sheet for todays practice round, beating Matthias Himmelmann of Muench Racing.  Why expected?  Because of how far back Himmelmann finished behind the Lightning bikes at the Laguna Seca race.

At Laguna Seca, Himmelmann finished the race 16.325 seconds behind Michael Barnes on the Barracuda Lightning #80, and had a best lap time 1.927 seconds slower.  With a top-notch rider like Duhamel, the Lightning race bike should perform just as well as if Barnes were riding, and I expected that Lightning would win over Himmelmann/Muench again.

Miguel Duhamel

The results were:

#1, Barracuda Lightning, Miguel Duhamel, 1:49.200 best lap, 137.802 km/hr
#2, Muench Racing, Matthias Himmelmann, 1:50.834 best lap, 135.771 km/hr
#3, Zongshen Racing, Ho Chi-Fung, 2:05.431 best lap, 119.970 km/hr
#4, Muench Racing, Katja Poensgen, 2:05.677 best lap, 119.736 km/hr

Additionally three racers are shown as "Not classified" as being slower than the qualification time of 2:18.186 best lap time.

#5,, Christian Amendt, 2:18.754 best lap, 108.451 km/hr
#6, Zongshen Racing, Tang Yu, 2:30.469 best lap
#7, Zongshen Racing, David Dumain, no stats listed

I don't know if this means these riders have no chance to qualify tomorrow or not.  The FIM e-Power series follows a qualification rule that, in essence, requires bikes to be within a given speed percentage of each other.  The three bikes name fell below that percentage.  Todays race is described as "first qualifier" so perhaps they'll be allowed a second chance in the second qualifier tomorrow.

Christian Amendt "was held up by problems with his electric motor".

Tang Yu "was stymied by a crash".

David Duhamel, is also driving in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, and "fell in the qualifiers and was unable to take part in the first e-Power practice session."

Miguel Duhamel, 17 – Lightning Barracuda Racing Team

« I am pretty satisfied with my qualifying, said Miguel Duhamel, but I could have done better. I spent the last three years on my couch and I need to give myself a bit of a shake to get back into a competitive frame of mind. The motorcycle is going well and I am sure I shall be faster tomorrow. »

Matthias Himmelmann, 49 - Munch Racing TT

« After our big problems in Oschersleben, I am really pleased with this qualifier. I lapped in 1’50 compared to 1’52 last year. This weekend is very important as it will decide both the e-Power and TTXGP championship titles. »

The second qualifying round will be held at 10:00 AM on Friday, with the race proper at 4:35 PM on Friday.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Lightning Motors is heading to Le Mans for the e-Power/TTXGP Europe race

This weekend was the TTXGP 2012 North America Championship race, won by Brammo's Steve Atlas.  The big question of the weekend is, where was Lightning Motorcycles?  As we noted in the race coverage, had Lightning raced this weekend at Miller the results could well have been different.  The answer came in the form of a posting yesterday on Lightning's Facebook page reading:
Gearing up for the FIM E-Power/TTXGP International Championship in Le Mans, France. The race is on the Eighth (7 days away!), so we're shipping out pretty quickly here.
That answers the first question, why weren't they at Miller.  They were instead preparing for Le Mans.  The question then is, "Why Le Mans?"

I managed to talk with Richard Hatfield by phone this morning, shortly before the race at Miller Motorsports, to get insight into the team's thinking behind this decision.

The answer comes down to a pair of motivations.  One is simply the prestige or glamour of not only being at Le Mans on the weekend of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but to participate in a race held on-site during that weekend.  The opportunity arose, and the team chose to take the opportunity.  The second part is a little more complex and has to do with a path in which Lightning could well win the 2012 e-Power Championship.  Going by the results at Laguna Seca, Lightning soundly beat Muench Racing and the same result could occur again.

For the Le Mans race, Lightning has selected famed AMA Pro racer Miguel Duhamel to ride for the team.  Duhamel is the second winningest racer in the AMA SuperBike series, and has the most wins in the AMA SportBike series.  He retired from racing four years ago, and is coming out of retirement to race with Lightning at Le Mans.

TTXGP 2012 North America: Brammo wins championship, VA Tech wins TTX75, Kluge wins eSuperStock

Steve Atlas (Brammo) won the TTXGP 2012 North American Championship this weekend, while team-mate Eric Bostrom won the weekends race.  Matt Kent (Virginia Tech) won in the TTX75 award group (7.5 kilowatt-hour battery pack), and Kenyon Kluge won in the eSuperStock award group.

Steve Atlas, TTXGP North America Champion for 2nd year running

For a full race report see  Brammo wins the TTXGP North American Championship 2nd year running

Eric Bostrom lead after the first half of the first lap, and ended up nearly 17 seconds ahead of Steve Atlas.  Considering that at Laguna Seca, Atlas finished just a couple seconds behind Michael Barnes riding for Lightning Motorcycles, one wonders what would have happened had Lightning ran in todays race.  In every meeting to date between Lightning and Brammo, Lightning won convincingly.  Since the Laguna Seca race, Brammo has been working hard tuning the new motor provided by Parker, and working with Bostrom on the setup of the bike.  Would Lightning beat Brammo today, or would it be the other way around?  We can't know.

The rider points for the season can let us play mental games about what could have been, rather than what did occur:
TTXGP North America 2012 Rider championship TOP FIVE:
Steve Atlas  Team Icon Brammo  65 points
Kenyon Kluge K sqaured Racing 51 points
Matt Kent Virginia Tech Bolt  45 points
Eric Bostrom  Team Icon Brammo 41 points
Michael Barnes  Baracuda Lightning  38 points 
1st place winners get 25 points, 2nd place winners get 20 points, 3rd place winners get 16 points, and so on.  How could the season results have been different had Lightning shown up to race?  This question is a great "what if" that we are not privileged to know the answer, because the universe we live in took a different path.

Where was Lightning?  Preparing for the e-Power/TTX race at Le Mans next weekend.

Jeremiah Johnson (BE-EV.COM) was present and ran in the qualifying and practice races.  While he has improved his bike considerably since Laguna Seca (where it didn't even run), the bike gave Johnson enough trouble on the track that he pulled out of the race.

Walking the pits at TTXGP Miller Motorsport

I'm at the 2012 TTXGP North America season finale at Miller Motorsports Park. This morning the teams are getting a little practice time with some of the gas bike groups and this afternoon is the qualifying round.

The Zero Motorcycles team is here again with four bikes. Luke told me earlier these normally see duty as Zero's durability test bikes, meaning that some of the individual bikes have over 18,000 miles on them.

Next is the Virginia Tech team. The team is working hard on tuning the regen to work well for their rider. He told me the corner speed is close to Brammo's Steve Atlas but on the straights is where he blows them away.

Next is Jeremiah Johnson with Be-Ev Racing. His bike is now running but today in practice the controller shut down on him. So he has a lot to work on still.

Last is Brammo (but not least, it's just the order I'm doing this). They are of course the top dog this weekend, because neither Lightning nor MotoCzysz are here. They want either to show to have the competition.

I talked for awhile with Eric Bostrom, because he is new to the team. He has been racing for over 10 years with many factory teams and has done development testing work with many manufacturers. He seems very impressed with the state of Brammo's Empulse RR, especially with their performance at Laguna Seca. He is working with Brammo not just for the races but also in development. He talked about the work to fine tune geometry of things like swing arm, motor location, etc so that anyone can jump on one of their bikes and feel just ride it.

As I'm sitting here engineers from Brammo and Virginia Tech are having a friendly tech conversation about controllers and such. One of the attributes of the TTXGP all along has been the congenial atmosphere between all involved, sharing tools and expertise. The teams are competing against each other but all are competing against the gas bikes.

Earlier Brammo went out for practice gridded with a bunch of SV650 and similar bikes. They blew away the gas bike riders considerably.

More to come

Saturday, September 1, 2012

TTXGP Miller Motorsports qualifying round results and report

The qualifying round for the TTXGP 2012 race at Miller Motorsports was just run. 1st and 2nd in the starting grid will go to Brammo, Steve Atlas and Eric Bostrom.

Both of them were running great, lap after lap of performance well above the others here this weekend, and they looked flawless. Bostrom did miss turn 1 one time, while navigating around one of the Zero riders. They came within one second of besting lap times by Shane Turpin.

TO CLARIFY: Shane Turpin's lap record was set on the West Track last year, and this year the teams are racing on the East Track.  Hence, they cannot beat Turpin's record because they're on a different track.  What they're looking to do is beat Turpin's times this weekend - because he is here racing with a gas bike.

Bostrom had the fastest lap time, 1:40.543 with Atlas having the second fastest, 1:40.752.

Jeremiah Johnson was able to get on the track and finish some laps, but his bike kept cutting off. He is pulling out of the weekend. His bike is still a work in progress.

The Virginia Tech team also looked very good, but the bike cut out a couple times and the team did not have an explanation. Matt Kent's fastest lap time was 1:53.496.

The Zero bikes, as always, ran flawlessly. Can't say much more about their performance on the track. I was able to check the temperature of the motor and controller afterward. The controllers were cool, and the motor while hot I could still hold my hand on it without being burned. My point to mentioning this is that Zero has done the work to make sure these bikes don't overheat even in race conditions.

Among the Zero riders, Kenyon Kluge had the fastest lap time of 1:59.175. Next was Kenny Cummings with 2:00.594. Then Anthony Burrows at 2:01.374. Finally Andrew Cowell at 2:04.267.