Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Lightning Motorcycles makes motorsports history at Pikes Peak with win

As we predicted, Lightning Motorcycles with Carlin Dunne did win outright in the motorcycle division.  That news is being overshadowed by a shocker of a win by Sebastien Loeb with an 8:13.878 lap time that demolished the previous record of 9:46.164 held by Rhys Millen, but we're here to discuss electric racing not gas powered.  The electric cars and motorcycles both made a great showing.  The fastest electric car almost beat Millen's previous record, for example.

The biggest news for electric racing is the win by Lightning Motorcycles.  Carlin Dunne finished with a 10:00.694 lap time, average speed of 71.917 miles/hr.

The next fastest motorcycle was ridden by Bruno Langlois, in the Pikes Peak 1205 class, for a 10:21.323 lap time and 69.529 miles/hr speed.  The next fastest bike after him was in the Superbike 750 class, ridden by Michael Henao, with a 10:31.499 lap time and 68.409 miles/hr average speed.

While Dunne beat all the gas bikes by a 20 second margin, he didn't beat the overall motorcycle record of 09:52.819 set by Dunne himself in the Pikes Peak 1205 class in 2012.  Dunne's 2013 result was #9 in the overall standings, #1 in the motorcycle standings.

Basically .. this puts the motorsports world on notice.  Electric racing is catching up.  Electric bikes just won in a major international event against the gas bikes.

It's not too dissimilar in the electric cars at Pikes Peak either.  Monster Tajima nearly beat the previous lap record held by Rhys Millen, with a lap time of 9:46.530, average speed of 73.654 miles/hr.  This should catch some attention as well.  However, Tajima earned fifth place overall and the top four finishers all beat Millen's previous record.

Both Mitsubishi and Toyota in their post-race press releases expressed disappointment, and blamed the rain for their showing.  The electric (car) division went out after a heavy rain-storm.

Mitsubishi switched to grooved tires, and even with those the cars were sliding quite a bit.  Greg Tracy said he was aiming for the win and was disappointed.  He wants to come back in dry conditions and try this again.

Toyota went with an "intermediate" tire but it didn't have enough "grip" for Millen to get a good result.  They're additionally pointing to having brought a two-wheeled race car when other "class competitors" were running four-wheel drive vehicles. 

Amarok Racing entered a custom built electric motorcycle featuring twin Agni motors and going by the results I believe it would have finished with a time competitive with the Zero Motorcycles bikes. They posted on Facebook saying their rider ran into a wreck about 2 miles uphill, and had to start over.  With a diminished battery pack he ended up running the pack flat five turns from the top.

The bulk of the electric motorcycles were made by Zero Motorcycles, in a conglomerate organized by Zero and Hollywood Electrics.  Those bikes are roughly equivalent to 250cc gas bikes, and indeed there were 250cc bike results scattered among the results for Zero riders. 

Perhaps the most interesting thing is that the top three Zero results beat Chip Yates' record for electric motorcycles at Pikes Peak in 2011.  His laptime in 2011, 12:50.094, gave him some bragging rights at the time.  He was originally planning to enter in 2013 with Lightning Motorcycles to defend that time, but backed out apparently after learning that Carlin Dunne had joined the team.  That aside, his time was beaten by nearly a minute by three riders, with the top rider (Jeff Clark) riding not a Zero S but a Zero FX. 

To put this in perspective - during 2010 and 2011, Chip Yates made a lot of noise claiming he'd built the first legitimate electric superbike.  His bike was big and heavy, and relied on a UQM drive train that would normally be used for electric trucks.  With it he entered and won a gas bike race, in a club race series in Southern California, entered the 2011 Pikes Peak, and went to the Bonneville Salt Flats for land speed racing hitting speeds close to 200 miles/hr

That was with a custom built heavy electric motorcycle.  These riders in the Zero Motorcycles group (the Exhibition Powersports-Z class) were all riding factory built bikes that were largely stock.  That's how fast the electric motorcycle industry is advancing.

In short, electric racing is catching up quick with gas powered.  We had one outright win this weekend, and there will be more to come.

The full results for electrics were:
  • #5: Nobuhiro Tajima, 9:46.530 lap time, 73.654 miles/hr average speed (Monster Tajima)
  • #9: Carlin Dunne, 10:00.694 lap time, 71.917 miles/hr average speed (Lightning Motorcycles)
  • #13: Hiroshi Masuoka, 10:21.866 lap time, 69.468 miles/hr average speed (Mitsubishi)
  • #14: Greg Tracy, 10:23.649 lap time, 69.270 miles/hr average speed (Mitsubishi)
  • #16: Rod Millen, 10:24.301 lap time, 69.197 miles/hr average speed (Toyota EV P002)
  • #63: Jeff Clark, 12:00.978 lap time, 59.919 miles/hr average speed (Zero)
  • #67: Jeremiah Johnson, 12:05.612 lap time, 59.536 miles/hr average speed (Zero)
  • #79: Troy Siahaan, 12:24.083 lap time, 58.058 miles/hr average speed (Zero)
  • #95: Ted Rich, 12:53.612 lap time, 55.842 miles/hr average speed (Zero)
  • #105: Nathan Barker, 13:14.262 lap time, 54.390 miles/hr average speed (Zero)
  • #106: Brandon Nozaki-Miller, 13:16.476 lap time, 54.239 miles/hr average speed (Zero)
  • #130: Roy Richards, 17:30.614 lap time, 41.119 miles/hr average speed (Honda Fit EV)
  • #133: Ikuo Hanawa, DNF (Yokohama Tires, Summit Racing)
  • #134: Janis Horeliks, DNF (Drive EO)
  • #137: Michael Leon, DNF (Amarok)

Image sources:

Lightning Motorcycles: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151670622597210&set=a.389507682209.167316.336377937209&type=1&theater

Monster Tajima - https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=549218995135101&set=o.336377937209&type=1&theater

Toyota: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=605511069482180&set=a.604652496234704.1073741876.330359950330628&type=1&theater

Mitsubishi: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=613281942030015&set=a.613281815363361.1073741836.178795422145338&type=1&theater

Zero Motorcycles: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151671551137210&set=a.389507682209.167316.336377937209&type=1&theater

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