Sunday, June 30, 2013

REFUEL 2013 - a total blast - lots of Model S's - for the first time, the outright winner is an electric motorcycle

The REFUEL race series is an all electric vehicle "race" that's more like a track day for electric vehicle owners, and just held its fifth annual event.  The series is organized by Speed Ventures, a racing instruction school that operates at least out of Laguna Seca Raceway.  I've attended 4 out of the 5 REFUEL's, and every year it just gets bigger and more significant.

This year there were well over 30 electric cars (and drivers) participating, the majority of which were Tesla Model S's, a handful of Tesla Roadsters, then other hands full of Nissan Leaf's, BMW ActiveE's, two Honda Fit EV's, three Toyota RAV4 EV's (Gen II), and 5 or so conversion cars.  One of those was a BMW M3 conversion by EV West, who had gone to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb last year but this year skipped it to be at REFUEL. 

In addition to the cars there was a large contingent of electric motorcycles.  The largest portion of the bikes were manufactured by Zero Motorcycles, but Brammo was there with an Empulse RR (Eric Bostrom) and an Empulse TTX (Shelina Moreda).  The Brammo contingent also included several customer bikes, including one customer who owns an Empulse TTX.  There were at least 3 home built conversion bikes.

There was also a contingent of 5 go-karts, high end models, from a racing organization that had worked with the FIA to be the first properly licensed electric go-kart racing series. 

The event is part racing instruction - many of the participants had never been on a race track - and part a semi-serious racing event, and some of them had lots of racing experience.  There were three races where the people started together and were properly racing each other.  The actual race by which everyone was ranked was a Time Trial, where everyone is started at 10 second (?20?) intervals and is expected to have their own race to see who can turn in the fastest lap. 

As it was last year, it was totally awesome seeing so many high powered electric cars on the track at the same time.  Last year, I think it was Brian Hall (Thunderstruck Motors), a man with decades of experience racing electric vehicles, who told me he thought that was the largest ever assemblage of high power electric vehicles.  This year it was bigger.  Last year, Tesla had just barely begun shipping the Tesla Model S, and the whole Model S contingent were Tesla Engineering cars.  This year, there were many customer owned Model S's, along with a few driven by Tesla employees. 

It was like we were in a sea of Tesla Model S's, and it was way cool.

The outright winner was Eric Bostrom, riding a Brammo Empulse RR.  This was the first year REFUEL was won outright by an electric motorcycle.  Every previous year, Kleenspeed came with their electric race car setting a faster lap, this time Kleenspeed was not present.

Eric Bostrom, Brammo Empulse RR
He was in the Prototype Electric Motorcycle class, which included the home-built conversions not just the factory prototype bikes like the RR.  Eric's laptime 1:38.502 was excellent, and bodes well for the eRoadRacing event at Laguna Seca at the end of July.  Kenyon Kluge (Zero Motorcycles) came in second, with a 1:55.684 laptime riding a Zero S but obviously modified.  Third was Chase Nachtman of Team Farfle Racing (Bend Electric Bikes), a collective of College students in the Bend Oregon area, riding a totally custom built bike (not a conversion0 with a 2:22.436 lap time.

In the Production Electric Motorcycle class .. First was Shelina Moreda on an Empuse TTX with a 1:51.381 lap time.  Second was Ian Lebov on a Zero DS with a 1:58.351 lap time.  Third was Jamie Perugini on a Zero S with a 2:00.573 lap time.  Fourth was Arthur Kowitz with an Empulse TTX, with a 2:03.856 lap time.

One takeaway from this is that the production Zero S/DS and Empulse R/TTX are very close to one another.  The results show them mixed together.

Michael Bream, EV West BMW M3 conversion

The conversion car class is rather confused on the results sheet.  I can tell that Michael Bream, of EV West, driving their BMW M3 conversion, came in first in this class with a 1:49.036 lap time.

Joe Nuxoll, Tesla Roadster

In the production electric car class, first was taken by Joe Nuxoll, driving a Tesla Roadster, lent to him by his friend Carl Quinn, with a 1:48.935 lap time.  Second was Gordon Jennings, driving a Tesla Model S, with a lap time of 1:55.157.  Third was Nicholas Wild, driving a Tesla Model S, with a lap time of 2:03.313.  Fourth was Pascal Vienne, driving a Tesla Model S, with a lap time of 2:03.663.  The first non-Tesla was a Toyota RAV4 EV, driven by Billy Kwan, with a lap time of 2:10.506 (and yes, I know it's a Tesla under the hood).  Next was a BMW ActiveE, driven by Jack Brown, with a lap time of 2:10.901.  The fastest Honda Fit EV was driven by Matt Walton, with a lap time of 2:19.378.  The fastest Leaf was the only Leaf and came in last in production cars, was driven by Rick Corcoran, with a lap time of 2:31.952.

They had a special class for "Tesla Employees" because who knew what kind of tweaks they put in.  First was Aaron Bailey, Tesla's development driver, driving a Model S, with a lap time of 1:48.917.  Second was Robine Shute, driving a Model S, with a lap time of 1:50.898.  Third was Sean Wheeler, driving a Model S, with a lap time of 1:52.861.  Fourth was Ross Maguire, driving a Model S, with a lap time of 1:56.440.

Notice the close times between Aaron Bailey and Joe Nuxoll.  Joe had been a Tesla employee for awhile, working on user experience design for the Model S dashboard, but in his spare time he is also a racing instructor, and in the REFUEL 2011 raced a company Model S setting a lap record of 1:50.8 and none of the Tesla's in REFUEL 2012 were able to beat that time.  This year Joe wanted to beat his previous lap record, and also beat all the Model S's.  He achieved the first goal, but lost to Aaron by 2 tenths of a second.  A groan went up all through the audience, in unison.

But the other thing to note is that EV West had a 1:49.036 lap speed, which is faster than everything other than Joe's and Aaron's speeds.  Michael Bream told me after the race, they're a very small team working out of a small garage, and here they are beating all but two of the Tesla's.  He was less than .2 seconds behind them, and had the 3rd fastest time overall for cars.  No small feat for a small team.

Overall results - #1 Eric Bostrom, Brammo Empulse RR, 1:38.502; #2 Aaron Bailey, Tesla Model S, 1:48.917; #3 Joe Nuxoll, Tesla Roadster, 1:48.935; #4 Michael Breem, EV West BMW M3, 1:49.036;

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Lightning Motorcycles on verge of making historic win at Pikes Peak

The big hairy audacious goals set by Lightning Motorcycles when the company was started including qualifying at the top of the pack in a major international race against gas powered bikes.  A few years ago that goal seemed ridiculous, even in 2010 at the inaugural TTXGP at Infineon Raceway (now Sonoma Raceway) which Lightning won.  On Friday, though, that particular goal was achieved, and it represents a tipping point in electric motorcycle development.  That a big piece of history is about to be achieved, hopefully, by Lightning Motorcycles.

Carlin Dunne, Lightning Motorcycles
2013 Pikes Peak
As I noted yesterday, Carlin Dunne riding for Lightning Motorcycles qualified in the 2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, in the Exhibition Powersports class.  To do that he beat the time he set in qualifying in 2012, riding his 1200cc superbike.  Last year Dunne went on to win the PPIHC outright.  This year, with a qualifying time almost 7 seconds faster than the next entrant, on a 1200cc superbike, he had the fastest overall time of all motorcycles present.  It appears likely he'll repeat this again on Sunday and take an overall win.

That would be historic.  Winning outright against gas bikes in a major international race, against the top gas bike racers from around the world, has never been done in the history of motorcycle racing. 

I just got off the phone with Richard Hatfield, CEO of Lightning Motorcycles, for a long conversation about where they are, and what this means in the bigger scheme of things. 

Hatfield and a small crew have been on-site at Pikes Peak for most or all of June doing daily test runs with Carlin Dunne.  They'd rise at 3:30 AM, on-site by 4ish AM, hold a riders meeting, and do multiple test runs for a few hours.  They have two bikes on-site allowing Dunne to switch off and just keep riding.  He's been an excellent development rider to work with providing concise feedback.

Hatfield says that Dunne believes the bike, as it exists today, does not need more horsepower.  It has all the horsepower needed right now, even though more is possible with the components they have on the bike right now.  The next phase is traction control, so they can increase the power and keep it on the ground.

To power the bikes they have a large solar array with a 35 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and a pair of 6 kilowatt SMA inverters.  The inverters allow them to quick-charge the bike at a 40 amp rate, with electricity gathered from sunshine.

But, what does it mean for Lightning to be where they are now?  To have a top racer on his team, beating the best gas bike racers in the world?

Brammo, Lightning, Moto Electra,
at 2011 North America finals at Miller Motorsports
Three years ago in the 2010 TTXGP season, electric motorcycle racing was a crew of scrappy upstarts.  Most of the bikes were home built experiments that ran, most of the time, but were a lot slower than the 600cc superbikes.  Even Lightning, with the top bike that year, was a lot slower than the 600cc superbikes.  The whole scene was laughed off as one that would never amount to anything other than "oh, that's interesting".

Year after year the field of electric motorcycle racing teams have improved, especially the top bikes.  This includes not just Lightning, but Brammo, Mission, MotoCzysz and others.

Trophy for winning at Mosport
Lightning has come a long way.  In 2010 at the Mosport (Canada) TTXGP race, Michael Barnes had a 1:39.289 best lap time compared to 1000cc superbikes with best laptimes in the neighborhood of 1:21-22.  In 2013, at Pikes Peak, they've consistently been beating the gas bikers in practice all week long, the best gas bikers in the world.

What it means in the bigger scheme is, for Lightning Motorcycles, a validation of their years of hard work.  It means they'll be able to present their superbike, the one they're selling to the public, as being a clone of the bike that won on Pikes Peak.  It's the "race on Sunday, sell on Monday" adage, and Richard Hatfield certainly aims to do so when he returns to the office.

But he also said several times during the interview - "One small step for Lightning, one giant leap for electric vehicles."

If they do win, it'll be big for them as a company, but in the grand scheme it represents a major milestone being reached.  One that many thought was impossible.

It's a short step from this to thinking about the success of Tesla Motors.  Just a few years ago they were just selling the Roadster, and seeing all kinds of problems, while promising a top-notch luxury sedan with unheard of specifications.  No matter the problems, they were tenacious and kept at the plan.  And the success of Tesla Motors isn't just that the Model S is winning accolades around the world, but that Tesla's very existence pushed the automobile industry towards electric vehicles.

The existence of Lightning (and Brammo, Mission, MotoCzysz, etc) in electric motorcycles, with the improvements year-after-year, are playing a similar role with the gas bike manufacturers.  The major gas bike makers are certainly looking over their shoulders seeing these electric guys catching up and wondering what to do.

A juxtaposition of TTXGP and Honda
TTXGP 2010 world finals at Albacete Spain
Hatfield related a conversation he had while waiting at the results board.  Two guys wearing Honda R&D shirts came up, saw him with his Lightning shirt, and said "Next time we'll come back with more horsepower."  Richard says he responded saying "Next year you should come with batteries," to which one of them turned to the other and said "yes, we should."

To the extent that Honda == Mugen, it's very possible for Honda to race at Pikes Peak with an electric bike, perhaps with a Mugen name on the plastic.

The question when the major manufacturers enter the game is whether the scrappy upstarts like Lightning will be able to keep up.  Hatfield says they have all the manufacturing partners and parts suppliers lined up to be able to go into production.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Mitsubishi takes 1st/2nd in Pikes Peak, plus other electric action on the mountain

While Lightning Motorcycles is turning in awesome results at Pikes Peak, there are some other electric teams on the mountain as well.   I want to take a look at some of the other results.

Jeremiah Johnson made a long posting talking about his recent results, and how his buddy Jeff Clark was keeping him honest.  He'd figured out that he didn't want the pole position, because he wanted someone to chase up the mountain.  However, he ended up fastest in one practice today (5:10 time) because Jeff Clark also did not want pole position and got a 5:14 time.  Jeremiah then decided to go full blast and got the bike turned up to full power.  In the next practice round that snagged him a 5:00 time, for a 10 second improvement, and 35th place overall. 

Amarok Racing qualified for the race, after having problems earlier in the week when a couple sub-packs failed.  They have a custom converted electric motorcycle using twin Agni motors, and a battery pack built of Turnigy R/C packs.  Those packs are attractive because they give a high discharge rate and have an ultra-low cost. 

Mitsubishi Motors snagged 1st and 2nd place in qualifying in the Electric DivisionGreg Tracy clocked the quickest time in the Electric Division with a time of 3:56.287, while Hiroshi Masuoka posted a run of 3:57.777.

Here's the results of the electric car class:
  • 1st, GREG TRACY, MIEV Evolution II, 3:56.287
  • 2nd, HIROSHI MASUOKA, MIEV Evolution II, 3:59.777
  • 3rd, NUBOHIRO TAJIMA, Pikes Peak Special, 3:58.189
  • 4th, ROD MILLEN, Toyota TMG EV P002, 4:04.331
  • 5th, JANIS HORELIKS, PP01, 4:19.488
  • 6th, IKUO HANAWA, HER-02, 4:46.789
  • 7th, ROY RICHARDS, Fit-EV, 5:29.430
It means that Monster Tajima took 3rd, Toyota took 4th, and the Latvian team took 5th.

Toyota posted this writeup with some discussion by Rod Millen.

Rod Millen: “It was good. We’re gaining more and more speed every time we run it -- the combination of me getting more and more comfortable in it and the team extracting a little more speed out of it. Unfortunately, our competitors are doing the same. We feel comfortable. We’ve got a nice balanced package here. We feel comfortable in terms of our race package.”

Rod Millen: “It’s not so much the starting position -- it’s more knowing what the vehicle is going to be like throughout that whole duration of that qualifying run. It’s a combination of very fast at the bottom and then we start to get into some of the switchbacks. Knowing what the car is going to handle like and what the balance is going to be like is really important in qualifying.”

Rod Millen: “Tomorrow, we’ll be working on the middle section of the mountain and we’re going to apply a couple lessons we learned today to try to make some improvements. Then I think we’ll have a race-ready package.”

Rod Millen: “It will be a lot warmer. We will have to make some decisions on tire compounds and so on of what we will do come race day. It really is a balancing act. Perhaps more so that we’re testing in the early hours of the morning -- the temperatures are much, much cooler. We’re going to have to use experience to help us make some decisions for race day when the temperatures are a lot hotter.”
The Toyota team is using a DC Fast Charger to get more track time, as they wrote up a couple weeks ago.  However, their plans almost hit disaster when the fast charger was destroyed in a car accident while being driven to Pikes Peak.  They had to ship in a replacement fast charger from Germany.

EV West posted on Facebook that they're "bummed" about not racing Pikes Peak this year.  Instead, they'll be at the REFUEL event at Laguna Seca this weekend.  That's a curious choice because while the REFUEL event is excellent, it's nowhere near the prestige of Pikes Peak.

Lightning Motorcycles takes pole at Pikes Peak, on track to win outright

At Pikes Peak they're getting ready for the big race on Sunday, and in today's qualifying round Lightning Motorcycles' rider Carlin Dunne took pole position while beating the next gas bike racer by over 6 seconds. This is a historic moment, because it marks the first time any electric vehicle has beaten a gasoline powered vehicle in a major international competition.

 A week ago Lightning sent out a press release saying that Dunne had beaten the gas bikes in an early practice round.  It appears that in practice rounds since, Dunne has kept up that pattern. 

It's beginning to look like, on Sunday, Lightning will take home the overall win in the Motorcycle category.

The results sheet they posted on Facebook shows Dunne finishing a 5.16 mile run in 4:13.532.  The next finisher, Micky Dymond, riding in the 1205 class, had a time of 4:20.215, or 6.683 seconds behind Dunne.  The next three, all on gas bikes, had 4:25.xx times.  The next bike after those three, in the Pikes Peak Superbike 750 class, had a 4:28.184 time. 

The numbers go on from there, suffice it to say that Dunne beat the field by a good margin.  The next electric bike was a Zero S ridden by Jeremiah Johnson, with a 5:00.720 time.

Lightning is racing in the Exhibition Powersports class meaning that the gas bikers aren't in direct competition with Lightning or the other electric bikes.  Someone will win in the Pikes Peak 1205 class, for example, and take home a 1st place trophy, even if Lightning's Dunne manages to beat the whole field. 

If indeed Lightning does win outright, there's I'm sure some kind of special honor for having done so.  In choosing Carlin Dunne, Lightning brought on board the winner in the motorcycle class for the last two years.  In 2012 he had a 9:52.819 time in the Pikes Peak 1205 class. 

Dunne has been beating the 1205 class all week, so it seems likely he'll do it again on Sunday.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Nissan unveils ZEOD RC electrified race car prototype slated for 2014's 24 Hours of Le Mans

Nissan NISMO ZEOD RC electrified race car
Nissan is definitely heading to the 24 Hrs of Le Mans Garage 56, in 2014, with an electric race car. The Nissan ZEOD RC, for Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car, is being designed for drive train flexibility to use both electric motors, battery packs, and petrol engines in different ways with simple reconfiguration choices.  The ZEOD RC is not a 100% battery electric race car, because obviously at this stage of EV drive trains no such car could handle a 24 hours endurance race.  Instead Nissan see's the ZEOD RC as a test bed with which to "test the potential" of their future LM P1 power train.

Nissan's goal is to return, in the future, to Le Mans P1 competition, and gaining overall wins using an electrified LM P1 drive train.  The first step is the ZEOD RC, with a 300 km/hr top speed, slated for the 2014 Le Mans race via Garage 56.  That garage is reserved for experimental technology vehicles such as the 2013 hydrogen fuel cell entry, the GreenGT, which unfortunately pulled out.

To aim for winning Le Mans overall with an electrified drive train is a big goal.  We like that.

Since the ZEOD RC isn't a 100% battery electric car, then what is it?  In a press conference to unveil the car, a Nissan representative talked about how in some ways regular road cars are ahead of race cars - turbo-charging technology has been downsized and applied to smaller engines, not for high performance but for higher efficiency - electric cars, like the Nissan Leaf, are on the market and slowly ramping up sales.

Reading between the lines of his statement, the ZEOD RC will use a combination of a small turbo-charged fuel efficient engine, coupled with an all electric drive train with a battery pack.  The exact details have not been announced yet, because Nissan has not finalized the design.  Instead, they're at the beginning of the design work, and has "a number of other ideas under development that will be looking to test in the chassis" according to Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President of Nissan Motor Corporation.

Ben Bowlby, Nissan's Director of Motorsport Innovation, positioned the ZEOD RC in contrast to the hybrid cars Audi and Toyota are racing in the FIA World Endurance Cup.  Both those cars have been beating the pants off the competition, and are using hybrid technology, but with a KERS system rather than a hybrid electric system.  That means Audi and Toyota are using a form of regenerative braking that mechanically captures kinetic energy, releasing bursts for acceleration out of corners.  The ZEOD RC instead is an electrified system, that will capture energy during braking etc, but do so electrically rather than mechanically.

Bowlby said "We're building an extremely flexible platform with which we'll be able to try multiple different options – even during the same multi-day test.  It is about experimenting and gathering data to work out how we use electricity to develop a competitive LM P1 program in the future.  We will be working very closely with the ACO throughout the test program to help develop where this technology fits within the Le Mans rules package."

They expect to be able to run laps at Le Mans faster than a Ferrari GT car, which will be quite an achievement.  That means less than 4 minutes a lap.  There is no track record for electric cars at Le Mans, so anything Nissan does with the ZEOD RC will set the Le Mans electric car track record.

The car shown at Le Mans is based on the Nissan DeltaWing.  It has a narrow front end, and a wing-like shape (hence the name).  That car occupied Garage 56 in the 2012 24 Hrs of Le Mans.

The electric part of the drive train is to use similar components (but not identical components) as are used in the Nissan Leaf.  That means similar battery, inverter and motor technology but beefed up for the rigors of 300+ km/hr at Le Mans.

They aim to use the ZEOD RC as a test bed to develop these technologies, not just for a future electrified LM P1 race car, but for application to commercial electric cars sold to the public.

With the Nissan Leaf having sold over 65,000 units world-wide, Nissan rightly see's themselves as a world leader in electric cars.  The growth rate for sales of the Leaf is outstripping the first years of Toyota Prius sales by a good margin.

The theory presented by Nissan management is that by applying the same technology to race cars, they'll drive more awareness of electric drive train capabilities, while using the race track to accelerate technology development.  We totally agree with this theory, because that's the exact purpose I personally have for focusing on electric racing news.

"Nissan has become a global leader in the development of zero emission automotive technology, and the Nissan ZEOD RC will allow us to further develop those capabilities using the toughest endurance race in the world as a mobile test bed to test the potential of our planned LM P1 power train," said Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President and Executive Committee member at Nissan Motor Company Limited.

"The Nissan ZEOD RC is a natural progression that follows on from the development of the Nissan LEAF road car and the LEAF RC race car prototype. The technologies developed through the ZEOD RC program will form part of future innovations for Nissan road cars.

"Nissan is already a global leader in the sale of all-electric cars and we're eagerly awaiting the opportunity to showcase the lessons learnt with the development of battery technology in the world's oldest, toughest and most high profile endurance race.

"The ZEOD RC program is designed to develop multiple technologies to evaluate how they could be used for a future LM P1 class return of Nissan at the Le Mans 24 Hour. There are multiple options we are investigating. A Zero Emission on Demand option where the driver can switch between electric and petrol-powered drive is a future direction for road cars, so that will be tested in addition to pure electric power and other new technologies that we still have under development.

"As no other manufacturer is using electric battery technology in endurance racing today, Nissan is innovating again and this will provide us with significant amounts of data and information to evaluate potential powertrains for future sportscar programs and allow us to continue as the leader in Zero Emissions technology on the road."

"Developing a car like this provides an incredibly challenging test bed for what could be highly effective options for road cars of the future. Throughout the next twelve months we will be testing multiple drive train options in an extensive test program," Bowlby said.

"We have many options to consider and test. The test program is part of a longer term goal of developing a system and a set of rules for this type of technology in partnership with the ACO that would be best suited to competing at the highest level of this sport.

"Nissan is a leader in electric vehicle technology for the road, now we want to take those lessons learnt and utilize that knowledge base in the development of the new race car.

"Our design team on the Nissan ZEOD RC program has concentrated heavily on packaging and aerodynamic efficiency that will not only provide extreme performance but high levels of energy efficiency – the goal for all global automakers.

"A large part of our work in the coming months is to discuss with the ACO future opportunities for the 'electrification' of the Le Mans rules in the future and work towards delivering appropriate technology. Garage 56 is a bold move by the ACO to showcase Innovation and allow testing of untried components and systems for future competition use. To this end they are the most forward thinking promoter in Motorsport today."

eRoadRacing launching European 2013 season in Valencia, July 14

The eRoadRacing World Cup is finally getting underway with a season-opener race for European eRoadRacing, in Valencia Spain.  The launch of the European eRoadRacing 2013 season takes place as the main event at the Circuit de la Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo during its Green Prix weekend on Sunday 14 July.

Gonzalo Gobert, Circuit de Valencia General Manager, said: ‘Valencia is a race track built for the future and it’s a great honour to be able to host the FIM eRoadRacing series because it is breaking down barriers to create the next generation of motorsport. We look forward to becoming part of eRoadRacing’s history and we’re really proud to be part of the sport’s beginnings.’

"Green Prix"?  The press release has this to say:  "The Valencia Circuit will celebrate the Green Prix for the very first time in order to create a new within motorsport competitions that is related to sustainability, environmental care and reducing emissions." 

It's unclear whether the Green Prix is a larger initiative, or just a name for an event happening that specific day.  I found this domain name,, that's hosting an empty website.  It may be that the eRoadRacing organization hopes to use the Green Prix name for future events.  The name, Green Prix, has been used in other cases as well.

During the 2012 TTXGP event at Portland Raceway, an event called "EV Live" was held in combination with the TTXGP race.  That event featured a display of "green vehicles".  These included some owned by individuals, including home-built conversions and some Nissan Leaf's.  It being Portland Oregon, John Wayland was there with the White Zombie.  Also present were some electric vehicle startup companies based in either Oregon or California, including Arcimoto, Ryno Motors and Lit Motors. 

The idea with EV Live was to make the TTXGP not just a motorcycle race, but a show for the public to see a broader range of electric vehicles.  From what the TTXGP team said in Portland, I know they like the idea of coupling the electric motorcycle race with this sort of event, and that they wanted to hold EV Live events in the future, and the Green Prix may be an outcome of that.

As for the series itself .. it's been three months since the eRoadRacing series was announced, with no news since following up on the season.  The website is still empty, and instead all the news is being distributed from (ahem) the website.  It's made myself wonder what is going on, and a query to the team has gone without being answered.  However, announcing the Valencia event is a concrete step towards launching the racing series as a living breathing entity. 

I can only imagine the difficulty they're having getting the series up and running as a full racing promotion organization.  It would be easy for me to sit over here on my blog and shoot spitballs at them for not getting things like a website or fleshing out the calendar finished.  But I've talked with these people enough over the years to have a sense that setting up and running this sort of organization is much more difficult than you might expect from the outside.

The 2013 calendar (at still shows only 3 events in Europe and 3 events in North America. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mercedes-Benz breaks electric car laptime record at Nürburgring with production electric sports car

Another automaker has broken the electric car laptime at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.  This is the famed huge track in Germany, the north loop (the Nordschleife) of which is 20 kilometers long (12 miles).  The new laptime, announced a week ago, was set by Mercedes-Benz with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive.

This is a series production electric sports car, the first such electric sports car, as well as the first electric car to circle the Nordschleife in under 8 minutes. Not only is it (apparently) the fastest electric car in existence, it's also available for sale.  At a price meant for the 1%.

“Mercedes-AMG impressively shows the potential of the SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive with the new record on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. Mercedes-AMG is the first vehicle manufacturer which makes it possible to circle the Nordschleife in under eight minutes with an electrically-powered series production vehicle. This record run is another proof for our constant innovative vigour“, according to Ola Källenius, Chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.

“For the first time, an electrically-powered series production vehicle circles the Nürburgring Nordscheife in under eight minutes. The record for the SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive in 7:56.234 minutes on the Nordschleife shows the special position of our innovative and unique drive solution. With the extremely efficient battery technology deriving from Formula 1, four electric motors positioned close to the wheels, the individual wheel torques “AMG Torque Dynamics”, the SLS eSound and our ambitious "AMG Lightweight Performance" design strategy, the SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive generates a breathtaking sensation unlike any other model out on the road”, according to Tobias Moers, Head of Overall Vehicle Development and member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.

The  SLS AMG Coupé Electric has an electric drive train with four motors totalling 552 kilowatts of power (721 horsepower) and over 1000 Nm of torque.  Additionally it as a 0-100 km/hr (0-60 miles/hr) time of 3.9 seconds, and an electronically limited top speed of 250 km/hr.

An overview of the most important data:
SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive
Max. output
552 kW (751 hp)
1000 Nm
0-100 km/h
3.9 s
Top speed
250 km/h*
250 km (according to NEDC)
Battery energy content
60 kWh
Battery voltage
400 volts
CO2 emissions
0 g/km
*Electronically limited

The four electric motors are connected one motor per wheel, and the Mercedes Benz designers used this fact to create a permanent all-wheel-drive system.  The system assures optimum traction to each wheel in all conditions.

According to the developers, the term "AMG Torque Dynamics" refers to individual control of the electric motors, something which enables completely new levels of freedom to be achieved. The AMG Torque Dynamics feature is permanently active and allows for selective distribution of power to each individual wheel. The intelligent distribution of drive torque has a beneficial effect on driving dynamics, handling, driving safety and ride comfort. Each individual wheel can be both electrically driven and electrically braked in accordance with the specific driving situation, thus helping to
  • optimise the vehicle's cornering properties,
  • reduce the tendency to oversteer/understeer,
  • increase the yaw damping of the basic vehicle,
  • reduce the steering effort and steering angle required,
  • increase traction,
  • and minimise ESP® and ASR intervention. 
Manufaktur hand finishing at company headquarters in Affalterbach
Mercedes-AMG has installed a dedicated Manufaktur hand-finishing section for electric vehicles at its headquarters in Affalterbach for final assembly of the SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive. The electrically powered gullwing model is assembled and readied for operation at a total of seven different stations. The entire logistics process is based in Affalterbach, too. 
Production of parts such as the exterior and interior initially takes place at the Mercedes-Benz production facility in Sindelfingen. In Affalterbach, highly trained workers take charge of assembling the axles, electric motors, transmissions and cooling system components. Particular care is taken with the installation of all high-voltage components, such as the liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery, the accompanying cables, inverter and control units, and the onboard charger. Needless to say, the utmost standards of safety are applied during all work on high-voltage components. The operational check and extensive final inspection at the end ensure that the manufacturing and product quality offered by the SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive is of the very highest order.
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive celebrates its sales launch in June 2013. The purchase price for Germany (incl. 19% VAT):
SLS AMG Coupé Electric Drive: 416,500 euros

Formula E signs up Williams Engineering to provide electric race car battery packs

The Formula E technology subsidiary, Spark Racing Technology, announced the other day another partnership with a technology provider.  The new deal is with Williams Advanced Engineering, who will design and assemble the battery packs for the SRT 01E. 

This is the electric race car that will be used in the Formula E 2014 season.  SPARK is slated to build 42 electric race cars for use by the teams.

Williams Advanced Engineering is part of the Williams group which includes the Williams F1 Team. That team is one of the pioneers of hybrid systems and their innovative technologies have been extremely successful on the international scene.

The consortium that SPARK has built includes McLaren, Renault and Dallara.  McLaren Electronic Systems will supply the transmission, electronics and powertrain for the car, while Technical Partner Renault SAS will use its vast technological expertise to optimize the electric and electronic layout and performance of the powertrain. Meanwhile, leading Italian firm Dallara will produce the chassis with tyres being supplied by Tyre Partner Michelin.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Spark Racing Technology to introduce our battery technology into their cars for next year’s FIA Formula E Championship,” said Kirsty Andrew, Head of Commercial Operations, Williams Advanced Engineering. “This is an exciting new racing series that will play a key role in highlighting the growing relevance of technologies originally developed for motorsport to the wider world. Energy efficiency is an important issue for Williams and whilst our work in this field is now spanning a number of market sectors beyond racing, motorsport will always be the ultimate proving ground for our technologies. Electric vehicles are becoming an increasingly important part of the automotive industry and Formula E is the perfect opportunity for Williams to validate the latest developments in battery technology.”

Frédéric Vasseur President of Spark Racing Technology added: “I am delighted to welcome Williams into our new project. The vast experience from Williams and especially from Williams Advanced Engineering in the field of hybrid systems and electric engine power, guarantees quality. Spark Racing Technology is extremely proud to bring together some of the biggest names in motorsport and expects no less from Williams as they accompany us in the highest level of the first championship for electric cars.”

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lightning's Carlin Dunne beats gas bike racers in Pikes Peak testing round

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is coming up, and Lightning Motorcycles is already on site, testing their race bike with rider Carlin Dunne, and setting history by turning in practice times that beat the gas bike racers.  Specifically, in the very first practice round for the 2013 Pikes Peak Hill Climb, Dunne posted the fastest times over all other competitors, not just electric, including the long dominant gas bike racers as well.

He was riding the Lightning Motorcycles electric race bike, earlier versions of which won many races and titles in the TTXGP, FIM e-Power, and land speed racing venues.   "This is the first time in history that an electric bike has beaten top gas bike competitors on the same level playing field," said Richard Hatfield, CEO and Founder of Lightning Motorcycles.

Of course the important result is what occurs on race day, a bit over a week from now.  The result came during a practice round and it's common for results to vary during practice rounds until the race event.  Still, this is a most interesting result and marks a threshold that electric motorcycles are beginning to cross - speed parity or exceeding the speed of the top gas bikes.

I don't have time to track down the results to see what actually happened.  I want to know the actual results, I want to report the results here, but ... sorry ... - the Pikes Peak event is a time trial, meaning that Dunne will have made it to the top of Pikes Peak in less time than the gas bike racers.

The primary takeaway in understanding this information is that the Pikes Peak event draws top competitors from around the world.  When Hatfield says "this is the first time" we have to understand the context is "beaten top gas bike competitors."  There are earlier instances where electric motorcycle racers have entered races against gas bike racers, in a sanctioned race, where the electric racers were racing for points and standing, and beat the gas bike racers.  However, all the instances I know of occurred in club racing.  The first of those is when Team Moto Electra (Brian Richardson team owner, Thad Wolff rider) raced in an AHRMA race and won.  The second is when Chip Yates raced in a WERA race event in Jan. 2011, and won.  This year Brammo has raced in a couple AFM events in Northern California, which I haven't had time to report on, and I don't know the results but I think they placed well or even won.

In other words, there are instances of electric bike racers wining against gas bike racers.  But because those were in club racing events it's not the same as a win in the competitive field at Pikes Peak. 

The result came during the "Tire Testing Weekend."  This is a critical test for the teams, but practice time is limited because the event does take place on public roads which are closed for only short periods.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

2013 TT ZERO sector results shows a clue to MotoCzysz' strategy

The Isle of Man folk have posted sector-by-sector results from the 2013 and they give a little bit of insight into why the race ended as it did. 

On almost every sector Michael Rutter took the sector a few seconds slower than did John McGuinness.  After the Bungalow sector that changed, and Rutter took the next two sectors faster.

This matches McGuinness' report that Rutter disappeared off into the distance after the Bungalow.  It also matches Mark Miller's description of the team strategy.

Meaning, that Rutter was holding back on the juice until the end, to make a sprint and go for the win.

Mark Miller's story about not finishing the 2013 TT ZERO

In today's TT ZERO, Mark Miller pulled out of the race at Ballaugh Bridge while team-mate Mike Rutter went on to win the race.  I was going to let it go as one of those details that we'd never hear about, but Mark Miller made a long posting on Facebook describing his day at the TT.

Team MotoCzysz
In case the posting isn't publicly visible - here's my summary of what he said.  By all means click through to Facebook to read the real thing if you prefer.

Their strategy was for Miller to drop back and let McGuinness in front of him, and for Miller to draft McGuinness.  This way Miller would save a lot of energy that he could use in a sprint after the Bungalow, beating McGuinness and maybe even snagging first place. 

That idea was working fairly well, and they were even catching up with Mike Rutter.  If you read the race report, McGuiness was ahead of Rutter by as much as 9 seconds during the race, meaning they did almost catch up with Rutter.

At Ballaugh Bridge John McGuiness hit the juice hard and took lots of air.  Miller took it differently, and when he landed something in the gearbox broke ending the race for him. 

Mark Miller went on to discuss the relative size and such of the two teams.

First, he repeated the claim that apparently was going around that Mugen had spend $4 million on the 2013 bike.  Some proof was Mugen had 12 engineers on staff testing everything to the nth degree, and doing daily tests at a local track.  With all that they couldn't beat MotoCzysz, who had 1 engineer, one "manager type" and Michael Czysz' father "who can do everything well."  Oh, and Michael was on call while back in Oregon undergoing treatments.  A small team going against everything Honda, er, Mugen, could throw into it, and the Oregon boys still won.

Oh, and as for whether Mugen === Honda ... Miller said that Mr. Honda was there in person.  Big hint.

Miller described his instructions as to "create a thermal meltdown" just as the bikes cross the finish line, then lean the bike against the pit wall and let it burn.  He said that Rutter ended the race having consumed 1% more energy than the battery pack is rated for .. meaning that the bike was beyond empty.  That's what it really took to win against  Being willing to let the bike burn to the ground on the other side of the finish line.

I'll close this by noting that at the 2012 TTXGP at Portland International Raceway, one of the MotoCzysz riders did exactly that .. ride the bike hard enough to create a thermal meltdown.  What Michael Czysz told me at the time is that the bike had just returned from the 2012 TT ZERO on Friday, and Saturday they took it to PIR for the TTXGP, and they hadn't had time to switch from the Isle of Man pack to the TTXGP pack.  The difference is that for the Isle of Man they need distance, hence more kilowatt-hour capacity, and for a TTXGP they need speed, hence delivery of more raw power.  With the wrong pack on the bike it went into thermal problems and almost caught on fire.  But.. if Miller is correctly reporting the instructions ... maybe their rider in Oregon took it a little too literally.

MotoCzysz makes dramatic win over Mugen in 2013 TT ZERO, both hit 109 miles/hr lap speed

John McGuiness during practice on Friday
The 110 miles/hr lap speed goal did not quite fall at the 2013 TT ZERO, and in its place we had a tense close race between MotoCzysz and Mugen Shinden.  In a surprise finish, MotoCzysz' Mike Rutter came in 1st with an unofficial 109.675 miles/hr lap speed, beating Mugen's John McGuiness by 1.67 seconds, and a 109.527 miles/hr lap speed.  MotoCzysz' other entry, Mark Miller, retired halfway through the race allowing Rob Barber, riding for the Ohio State University Buckeye team, to come in 3rd with a 90.403 miles/hr lap speed.

Before the race Rutter sounded resigned to coming in 2nd to John McGuiness, and he even said so during a Manx Radio interview right after crossing the finish line.  He was surprised and ecstatic at having won against the odds that McGuiness and Mugen's money would win the race.  Apparently a rumor was running around the TT ZERO pits that Mugen had spend $4.3 million on developing the 2013 bike, and aiming to win.  For his part, John McGuiness, in the post race interview with Manx Radio, was "grumpy" and didn't know what to say, that he was "sore" and felt like he deserved to win.  What he did say is that after the Bungalow timing point, Mike Rutter just disappeared into the distance.

The 1.67 second difference could boil down to having missed a corner or two, and the finish was one of the closest ever in the TT.  

Early in the race (the Glen Helen timing point) McGuiness was ahead of Rutter by 9 seconds, and arrived at that timing point neck-and-neck with Miller.  The way this works, it is a time trial race with riders leaving individually.  McGuiness left 3rd meaning that to be neck-and-neck with Miller he had gained about 10 seconds.  Rutter had a 109 miles/hr speed at that point, McGuiness had 112 miles/hr speed, Miller a 108 miles/hr speed, and George Spence a 90.766 miles/hr speed.

At the Sulby Speed Trap, Manx Radio reported Rutter hitting 142 miles/hr, and McGuiness hitting 131 miles/hr.

By the Ramsey Hairpin, McGuiness had a 5 seconds lead over Rutter, and by the Bungalow McGuiness increased the lead to 8.9 seconds.

Mark Miller retired from the race at Ballaugh Bridge.

Finishing data - unofficial, and reported by Manx Radio over the air .. will update this when official results are posted.  Mistakes in transcribing could have been made.

#1 Mike Rutter - MotoCzysz - 20:38.461 .. 109.675 miles/hr.  Fantastic feeling, especially glad to win it for Michael Czysz who is back at home.  He never thought he'd win the race, and the bike went perfectly.

#2 John McGuiness - Mugen Shinden - 20:40.133 .. 109.527 miles/hr - 1.67 seconds behind Rutter.  Supposedly his bike faded a bit at the end.

#3 Rob Barber - Buckeye, The Ohio State University - 25:02.467 seconds .. 90.403 miles/hr - 4:22 behind #2

#4 George Spence - Kingston - 25:41.822 .. 88.096 miles/hr - 39.355 seconds behind #3

#5 Chris Mcgahan -  - 26:59.755 .. 83.857 miles/hr

#6 Ian Lougher - - 27:46.300 .. 81.515 miles/hr

#7 Dave Madsden-Mygdal - -31:26.933 .. 71.983 miles/hr .. this is his 98th finish of a TT race.

#8 Paul Owen - - 31:33.387 ..  71.738 miles/hr

Fastest lap speeds for 2013 TT ZERO qualifying rounds posted

The pre-race data dump from the TT ZERO Clerk of the Course also includes the "Fastest Laps" list, in addition to the starting positions for the race.  The information on this list just makes me more confused about how the starting positions are decided:

For example, John McGuiness with the fastest lap (109.038 miles/hr) is starting in 3rd position, and Robert Barber with the 4th fastest lap (91.768 miles/hr) is starting in 10th position.  Obviously the selection process doesn't really reflect the fastest lap times and I haven't a clue how they select the starting list.

In any case we see in this data that there are two separate races.  The top three bikes, MotoCzysz and Mugen Shinden, are showing speeds much faster than the rest of the pack. 

This is similar to what I was observing last year in the TTXGP.  Not every team can afford to build a top of the line electric superbike.  That meant the TTXGP ended up with a few ultra fast bikes, and a larger pack of bikes that aren't so fast.

Mike Rutter has pole position in 2013 TT ZERO - starting list posted

With the 2013 TT ZERO due to start in about an hour, the Clerk of the Course has posted the official starting list for the race.

The starting list is somewhat based on the fastest lap times achieved by each rider over the three qualifying rounds.  Though, looking carefully, I'm surprised that John McGuiness is starting at #3 when he's done so well in qualifying including the 109 miles/hr lap time on Monday.  And has Rob Barber done so badly to be the last to start? 

In any case, I've posted the qualifying round results in previous postings ... Friday ... Saturday ... and Monday

From those results we see McGuiness placed first in qualifying on Friday and Monday, placed a very close second in qualifying on Saturday, yet is still starting in 3rd place.  Scratch head, wonder why.

Of course it really doesn't make any difference because this is a time trial race.  Theoretically, the guys are racing against the clock primarily and are being started at 10 sec intervals so that each has their own ride.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pikes Peak top racer, Carlin Dunne, switches to electric with Lightning Motorcycles

Lightning Motorcycles has signed up a new rider for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb at the end of June.  The rider, Carlin Dunne, is a top choice as he is the current all time record holder, and two-time consecutive champion of the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.  Hence, this not just "Lightning adds another rider" but a top racer in the Hill Climb community is choosing to race electric, rather than race gas.

The 2013 Hill Climb was already looking like a tipping point for electric racing, with many electric cars and electric motorcycles entering the race, and with two electric teams predicting they'll win the Hill Climb outright.   This makes it look even more so.

"I have a chance to be a part of something even bigger, to prove something to the rest of the world by riding this amazing electric bike. And I have to say, I've been testing it for a month, and it's insane. It's power and acceleration is like nothing I've ever ridden. When you light that fuse, hang on" said Dunne.

Dunne is a life-long racer who has risen to the top of several racing genres including the Baja 1000, mountain bike racing, and the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.  The first year he entered that race he won, as a rookie, and won again the second year setting a time/speed record that still stands today.

"I still can't believe our good fortune in teaming up with a guy like Carlin. Not only is he the top talent, but he's a great guy. I'd root for him even if he were riding for someone else. But this is much bigger story than Carlin, or Lightning. This is a historic moment for the world. It's the tipping point in global transportation as we know it. The very best guy in the world at this race who won and set records on gas bikes, has chosen us, an electric motorcycle company, to try and beat his own records. Combustion engines are long from dead, but they were just passed by in performance" said Art Haynie, director of marketing for Lighting.

Richard Hatfield, Founder and CEO said, "This technology will drive the future of racing. Gas engines have been around for over 100 years and pushed to their limits - and they’re at a late stage of development. But we're just starting with this. It's like we're in the early 1900's all over again when it comes to the development of electric racing - and we're already breaking new ground. We always knew what we had in the performance of our electric bikes, but it takes time for the world to comprehend and accept a huge change like this. It took 50 years for people to accept a car was better transportation than a horse. Now here is the top rider in the world at this race, at the top of his game, putting his seal of approval on us by leaving combustion and going electric."

Chip Yates is also racing with Lightning at Pikes Peak. Actually ... what's going on is that Chip Yates is being replaced with Carlin Dunne after Yates quit.

Monday, June 3, 2013

McGuiness set to break 110 miles/hr in 2013 TT ZERO, and beat MotoCzysz

The results in the TT ZERO are just getting better with every practice round.  In Monday's practice round, John McGuiness's bike was being registered by the transponders so we can report that he achieved a 109.038 miles/hr lap speed, beating Michael Rutter's 107.602 miles/hr lap speed, and Mark Miller's 105.806 miles/hr lap speed.

To make this clear - John McGuiness turned in a 109.038 miles/hr result in practice, making it very likely the 110 miles/hr lap speed goal appears very likely to smashed in the 2013 TT ZERO.  The 2012 lap record was in the 104 miles/hr range, set by Mike Rutter in 2012 with McGuiness coming in second that year.  As we see in the next paragraph, Rutter is turning in 107 miles/hr lap speeds, and Miller is a bit slower than Rutter.  Hence, it looks like McGuiness will beat Rutter and Miller both, and it looks like the MotoCzysz winning streak is over.  But of course this is racing and we cannot be certain of anything until it actually happens.  For example Rutter and Miller could be holding back...?  Maybe?

The IOMTT officials still haven't have posted official results from Saturday's practice round, making it difficult to letting us assess improvements over the week.  Both Rutter and Miller gave similar results today to what they achieved on Saturday (Rutter 107.82 miles/hr Saturday, 107.602 miles/hr today, Miller 104.xx miles/hr on Saturday, 105.82 miles/hr today).  McGuiness is showing a big gain, from 107.20 miles/hr on Saturday, to 109.04 miles/hr on Monday.  We didn't have any results for McGuiness on Saturday, so we're unable to compare that against his performance today.  This performance is much stronger than Friday's practice round, and all three are soundly beating the 104ish miles/hr record set by Rutter in 2012.

Because one of the guys in the infernal combustion engine racing had a spectacular day, the Manx Radio crew spent quite awhile on reliving his win in a race just before the TT ZERO, and not covering for example the Sulby Speed trap times.  They did give some lap time numbers at several points along the lap.

These are unofficial lap speed numbers as written down while listening to Manx Radio.  I'll update this if/when the IOMTT officials post official results.

Glen HelenRamsey HairpinFinal
John McGuiness - Mugen Shinden??109.038 miles/hr
Mike Rutter - MotoCzysz111 miles/hr126 miles/hr107.602 miles/hr
Mark Miller - MotoCzysz105 miles/hr124 miles/hr105.806 miles/hr
Rob Barber - Buckeye94 miles/hr108 miles/hr91.768 miles/hr
George Spence - Ion Horse89 miles/hr89 miles/hr85.484 miles/hr
Chris McGahan - Vercamoto??81.150 miles/hr
Ian Lougher - KOMATTI??80.259 miles/hr

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mugen, MotoCzysz, smashing 2012's TT ZERO lap time record, 110 miles/hr lap speed in sight

John McGuiness (Mugen) during Friday's practice
Courtesy IOMTT.COM
Both MotoCzysz and Mugen are smashing the TT ZERO record lap speed they'd set during the 2012 session.  During practice/qualifying on Friday and Saturday, both teams gave lap speeds significantly faster than the 2012 record.  And what's even more interesting is that Mugen's John McGuiness seems to be beating MotoCzysz's Mark Rutter.  MotoCzysz is in for some serious competition this year.

I listened live to Saturday's practice - and it's clear all the teams, not just MotoCzysz and Mugen, have improved considerably since last year.

Because the TT race is such a long lap (38ish miles, winding around the Isle of Man and over the top of the mountain), Manx Radio has announcers scattered along the course, and the broadcast cycles through the announcers in order along the track.  The announcer at Ramsey Hairpin, at the base of the mountain, described all the bikes as handling this turn much better than last year.  This is a hairpin turn that begins the ascent up the mountain, the bikers have to slow almost to a stop and then accelerate up the slope.  Previously the electric bikes had problems with this corner, but not this year.

Sulby Speed Trap times were 135.5 miles/hr for Mark Miller (MotoCzysz), 125.9 miles/hr for Michael Rutter (MotoCzysz), 99.9 miles/hr for Chris Mcgahan (Vercamoto), 98.7 miles/hr for Paul Owen (Brunel Univ).

I haven't seen final results published by the IOMTT staff yet.  However, the announcer reported that Rutter had the fastest lap time, 107.82 miles/hr.  Also that George Spence, riding the Ion Horse, finished on Saturday with a 83.32 miles/hr lap time.

But this is unclear because John McGuiness's bike (Mugen) wasn't being registered by the timing computers.  He may well have had a faster speed trap time, and faster lap time, and we won't know until the final results are published.  Now that the results have been published (see below) we see he came in 2nd that day, with a 102.20 miles/hr lap time.  From Friday's results, Rutter had a 104.63 miles/hr lap time, and McGuiness had a 105.65 miles/hr lap time.

Mark Miller finished with a 104.40 miles/hr lap speed in 3rd place 21ish minutes lap time, I don't know the speed.  However, in the final speed point he was recorded going 29ish miles/hr indicating his bike probably (educated guess) had run real low on electricity.  At 21ish minutes, he did finish a little faster than on Friday when he put in a 22:07 minutes lap time, for a 102.33 miles/hr average lap speed.

Rob Barber, riding the Buckeye entry from The Ohio State University, came in last with a 70.07 miles/hr lap time.

I'll update this post when they unveil final results for Saturday's round.

The bottom line is that the top three bikes are significantly beating last years results, and are showing significant improvements between Friday and Saturday.

MotoCzysz's goal for 2013 is to not only continue their winning streak, but to beat a 110 miles/hr lap time.  They're in for a tough competition with Mugen for the #1 spot on the podium, but the 110 miles/hr lap time is within sight.

They have one more practice round on Monday afternoon, and the race is scheduled for Wednesday.

For friday's results see