TTxGP: world's first e-bike grand prix race report
Went the day well?
Leccy Tech The inaugural zero-emission motorcycles grand prix – the TTxGP - finished last week with more than its fair share the drama, excitement and breakdowns.
As with any new form of motor sport, the rate of attrition was high with only nine of the 20 bikes due to start race making it to the chequered flag.
Pre-prang: eRockit's bike practicing pre-race
The German eRockit bike never recovered from a seized motor on Tuesday that sent its rider, David Madsen-Mygdal, sliding down the road bruising his hip and damaging his crash helmet. Following the crash, Madsen-Mydgal confessed that he would be uncomfortable riding the six-speed clutchless machine even if the team could repair it in time.
“I was going fairly well and it was pretty good fun to ride," he told Register Hardware. "I’m just glad it locked up in a straight line."
Meanwhile, Evo Design's bike suffered from consistent problems with its electronic control unit which the team failed to solve in time to qualify for Friday's race. Persistent technical problems also prevented the Peace e-rider bike from starting.
Of the 13 e-bikes that did manage to start, four suffered terminal technical problems during the race, including James McBride on the ManTTX machine, who retired at Glenn Duff; the second Brammo machine ridden by Roy Richardson, which melted its engine at the 11 mile; and the Team MotoCzysz bike ridden by Mark Miller, which suffered a catastrophic failure of all three of its electric motors in a shower of sparks before even reaching the first checkpoint.
Burn out: MotoCzysz' three engines went up in smoke
The US-based Brammo team said they had deliberately push up the performance of Richardson's bike to see how it would stand up compared to their second bike, ridden by Mark Buckley, who eventually came home third in class.
The Kingston University team's bike, ridden by George Spence, suffered a terminal motor failure after around six miles. The team told us this week that the reason for the failure remains a mystery, but they expect a full bike post mortem to reveal all.
Kingston's e-bike would fail to finish
The nine eventual finishers were led home by Rob Barber on the Team Agni machine, which had also been the fastest bike through qualifying.
Barber finished the single lap race in 25:53:50 and at an average speed of 87.434mph.
Second place Thomas Schoenfelder clocked the fast time through the Sulby speed trap of 106.5mph and was the only rider to officially exceed 100mph.
To put that into context, before his 1000cc Honda gave up the ghost on lap four of the Senior TT race, John McGuinness was putting in lap times of just over seventeen minutes and covering the course at an average speed of around 130mph.
Victor: Team Agni's Rob Barber heads to the finish line
Following his victory, Barber paid tribute to Cedric Lynch whose unique electric motors powered the winning bike. “I’m really pleased for Cedric,” said Barber. “He really wanted to beat the 50cc record and we’ve done it.”
It's worth pointing out that the 50cc TT record average lap speed of 85.66mph was set in 1966 - 43 years ago.
Entries were divided into two categories: the Pro Class, which was open to all bikes, and the Open Class for bikes that were built from off-the-shelf components to a target cost of not more than £20,000.
XXL's Thomas Schoenfelder clocked the fastest speed through Sulby
The Open Class experienced high drama and confusion when the Barefoot Motor's bike, ridden by Chris Petty, suddenly lost power as it approached the finish line, allowing Chris Heath on the Electric Motorsport machine to win by 35 seconds.
After the race, however, Heath was disqualified for not sounding his horn while riding under a yellow flag, so promoting Petty and John Crellin on the Team TORK bike to first and second in class, respectively.
Their cheers were suddenly muted when Heath was subsequently reinstated when it was decided by race judges that his transgression hadn't effected the outcome of the race.
The prize for grim determination in the face of a failing motor and battery pack must go to Stephen Harper on the Brunnel University X-team bike who took nearly an hour to complete the course and paddled his machine across the finish line with his feet.
After the race, Register Hardware spoke to Forrest North, CEO of Mission Motorcycles. North was adamant that the TTxGP will have a very positive impact on the ongoing development of electric motorcycles, saying that an event of this type was “the equivalent of compressing six months of R&D into one week".
Following the podium ceremony, race promoter Azhar Hussain said: “We've really changed the world today.”
TTxGP: the Course
Map courtesy Google/TeleAtlas
The course is 37.733 miles (60.72 km) and the start-line is on the A2 Glencrutchery Road in Douglas. The racing circuit is based on a number of public roads on the Isle of Man including the primary A2 Douglas to Ramsey Road, A1 Douglas to Peel Road, A3 Castletown to Ramsey Road and the primary A18 Mountain Road. The highest point of the course is on the primary A18 Mountain Road between the Bungalow and Hailwood's Rise at spot height 422m (1384ft) above sea level.
It is estimated that there are over 200 corners on the Isle of Man Mountain Course and about 60 corners have names.
Despite only finishing fourth in class, North was satisfied with Mission's time on the Isle of Man. A faulty motor controller had trashed the bike's original engine on Wednesday, resulting in a loss of practice time and an exhausting 16-hour re-build in order to be ready for the race on Friday.
Setbacks notwithstanding, North reckoned the Mission machine crossed the finish line at over 100mph with around and ten per cent of its battery charge left.
Mission Motors' e-bike in testing
The race was overshadowed by tragedy later on Friday when John Crellin died while riding in the Senior TT race. Fifty-eight-year-old Crellin was killed on the fifth and final lap of the race at the Mountain Box section of the notoriously unforgiving circuit. No other bikes were involved in the incident.
If you want to get a taste of what it was like at the world's first leccy bike race, the organisers have posted a four-minute slice of the final day's action on YouTube:
Did not Finish
MotoCzysz (Mark Miller), Kingston University (George Spence), ManTTX (James MacBride), Brammo (Roy Richardson)
Peace E-Rider (Antonio Maseo), Evo Design (Paul Owen), eRockit (David Madsen-Mygdal)