Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A note from the Dept. of I Could Be Making Too Much Of This, But...

When the FIM announced the e-Power racing series (late in 2009, races beginning in 2010) it was careful to call it the FIM e-Power International Championship. Note that they didn't call it a World Championship (my italics.) As the first e-Power races started to take shape, the FIM clarified that choice of words, specifically noting that it was not (in the FIM's view) a World Championship like the ones awarded in ICE categories ranging from MotoGP through Trials.

The first event of the 2012 e-Power series took place recently, in support of the World Endurance race at Magny-Cours in France. During practice and qualifying, the FIM released an abashed statement about the fact that the grid was comprised of three bikes. I saw that the pole-sitter's time was 20 seconds off World Endurance pace, and that the third bike was about 30 seconds slower than that, and wondered if the FIM was even going to persevere with the electric sideshow.
Was calling the thus-far underwhelming e-Power series a World Championship just an editorial accident on the part of someone at the FIM? I doubt it. They're Swiss, after all. And they made the same editorial choice in English and French versions of the release, so it was proofed more than once...
I was surprised to note that today, on the FIM's web site, there's a press release that describes the series as a World Championship (Note the capital letters.)

I thought that could just have been an editorial oversight on the part of whoever writes the FIM's english-language press releases, since the FIM (based in Mies, Switzerland) works in French. But no, the corresponding French-language release describes the recent Magny-Cours race as, "la première manche du Championnat du monde FIM ePower".

That translates as, the first round of the FIM ePower World Championship.

I could be making too much of this. After all, elsewhere in that release there are references to the 'International Championship'. Still, I can't help but wonder if -- despite sparse and uneven grids -- the FIM has quietly upgraded the e-Power series to full World Championship status.

Why do that now? One reason might be that the FIM, like the rest of us, sees Mugen's TT Zero entry as a tacit entry by Honda in a rival championship (albeit a championship fought over a single lap.) 

The truth is that the TT course, with its long lap and elevation change, is a far better proving ground for real world EV technology than a handful of laps around any circuit. If, as I assume he will do, John McGuinness hands Honda a historic first-EV-lap-over-100mph, Honda will generate far more positive exposure than they could ever get in the e-Power Whatever It Is Championship. 

The FIM is all about protecting its turf, and while it grudgingly acknowledges the Isle of Man TT, it doesn't want the Isle of Man to consolidate its status as the de facto world championship for the emerging EV moto category. Upgrading e-Power to full World Championship status sprinkles a little FIM piss on that rock.

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