Saturday, July 20, 2013

Shane Turpin takes pole position at eRoadRacing World Cup, Laguna Seca

Shane Turpin (Brammo)
In todays qualifying round for the eRoadRacing World Cup at Laguna Seca, Shane Turpin (Brammo) took pole position, with Eric Bostrom (Brammo) taking second, and Kenyon Kluge (Zero) taking the last spot on the front row.  Zero S's did very well, with two of them beating the fastest Empulse TTX rider (Shelina Moreda), and almost everyone improved their game considerably, including Brandon Nozaki-Miller who knocked 10 seconds off his time to be within the 120% threshold for qualifying.

Eric Bostrom (Brammo)
One interesting result is that the gap between the fast bikes (Empulse RR) and the not-so-fast (Empulse TTX and Zero S) has shrunk over previous years where there was a vast gulf of performance.

Another interesting result is simply that the grid is full of production bikes (Empulse TTX and Zero S), other than the two Empulse RR's which are manufacturer prototypes.  In previous years the grid was full of prototype bikes.  This is simply a sign that the field is maturing rapidly.

Kenyon Kluge, K2 Racing, Zero Motorcycles
The qualifying race was held at 5pm local time, in beautiful clear weather and temperatures in the 70's.  Those of you in other parts of the world that are roasting right now, I apologize, and let me say that the California Coast is blessed with cooling breezes from the ocean that make our climate fantastic.  But it is also known to give dense fog in the morning, and given that the race is scheduled for 9:40 AM there's a decent chance that it will be rescheduled due to fog.

Ted Rich,
The Brammo Boys, Shane Turpin and Eric Bostrom, were in fine form and matching each other quite well.  Shane again had a faster best lap time, 1:32.516 over Eric's 1:33.087, but their total time was 0.571 seconds apart meaning.  Both of them improved quite a bit over yesterday's lap times in the 1:34 range.  Both appear to be within striking distance of beating Mission's lap speed record, 1:31.376, set during the 2011 e-Power/TTXGP.

Shelina Moreda, Brammo
For the 3rd place spot, Kenyon Kluge, Ted Rich, and Shelina Moreda, reshuffled the results.  Both Kluge and Rich improved their performance, while Moreda gave about the same performance as yesterday.  This means she slipped from 4th to 5th, and because Kluge improved more than Rich he came in 3rd with Rich coming in 4th.  Kluge, best lap time 1:48.068, Rich, best lap time 1:49.061, Moreda, 1:51.019.

Jeremiah Johnson,
Next down the results is Jeremiah Johnson, Arthur Kowitz and Brandon Nozaki-Miller.  All improved their time, but their order did not change.  Johnson, best lap time 1:52.046, Kowitz, best lap time 1:54.417, Miller, best lap time1:55.625.  Miller knocked off over 10 seconds in his lap time, getting within the 120% threshold necessary to qualify.

We really really wish one or two other top teams (Lightning, Mission) were present so that there'd be more of a contest for the top spot.  In previous years, this event at Laguna Seca had some pizazz because it drew so many top electric bikes to it.  This time...?  But we get the race that occurs because of the teams who choose to show up and play.  So let's focus on this.

Arthur Kowitz
The main take-away this time around is that the whole field has taken another big step forward.  The Laguna Seca race has always been a benchmark we could use to track the improvements of the electric motorcycle field.  This year the improvement is not only speed improvements, but the overwhelming presence of manufactured production bikes that fit the common definition of "production bike" (over 25 units built and sold).

Brandon Nozaki-Miller
Another interesting takeaway is the presence of AMA pro racers who are able to easily join the field because of the production bikes.  Ted Rich runs a superbike training school ( and has been involved with electric racing since at least 2011, when he rode for Lightning Motorcycles at that years North America final race.  In 2012 he rode for Zero at Laguna Seca, and this year he rode for them at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and now at Laguna Seca.  The second example is Arthur Kowitz, whose AMA career dates to the 1980's and who had won his share of races back in the day.  He has been racing vintage bikes in the AHRMA series, but then had a desire to race electric bikes.  He's bought both an Empulse R and Empulse TTX, and is racing with the TTX.  He explained to me that by racing electric he feels he can make more of a positive impact on the world than he can with his vintage bikes.  Racing vintage bikes is like looking behind, to the past, while racing electric is like facing forward into the future.
This would have been a totally awesome picture
of Eric Bostrom and Shane Turpin together
if only the camera had chosen to focus properly....

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