Monday, May 7, 2012

The rap on EVmoto 'racing'

A little while back, I noted that in spite of a ridiculously small field at the first 2012 e-Power race at Magny-Cours, it seemed the FIM had upgraded the series from an 'International Championship' to an official FIM World Championship. I just noticed that the series is now listed as a World Championship, like MotoGP and SBK.

I guess the FIM's staking its claim to the future, because at present, most EV motorcycle races are laughable. Not that racing a motorcycle with 100+ hp is ever a joke in itself, as Brammo's Steve Atlas now knows. He was bucked off the Empulse RR and broke several vertebrae(!!) Then, Brammo tapped Steve Rapp (an Infineon expert and a notable 'hired gun' in the AMA paddock) to take the ride, and it threw him down the road, too. Rapp broke his wrist, knocking him out of an actual motorcycle race he was entered in later that weekend. I hear they've already contacted Guilherme Marchi, a Brazilian, to take over riding duties at Laguna Seca.
Brammo ran this ad to celebrate it's 2011 TTXGP 'championship'. There's only one real race for EV motorcycles right now, though, and only one win will matter.
That left  precisely two entries in the TTXGP 'premier' class at Infineon. Both Lightnings. One finished. Yes, one entrant crossed the finish line.

Note to the EV racing apologists: One bike doesn't make a race.

And that was at Infineon; a race in the back yard of America's EV moto industry, such as it is. (Yes, I know Zero was represented in the 'super stock' class.) I presume a few more bikes will show up at Laguna Seca, when TTXGP and the FIM hold one of their interlocking races, but as an outsider looking in, I'm expecting another laughingstock.

By contrast there were, last I saw, close to 20 entries for the TT Zero event, pitting all the highest-profile U.S. endeavors against, among others, the most intriguing electric bike yet -- the Mugen. This is as it should be. Right now, EVs are still struggling to establish relevance, and prove they're meaningfully functional in real-world applications. The Isle of Man 'Mountain Course,' with its long lap, elevation change, long fast stretches and full set of real-roads challenges (bumps, terrible weather, crazy cambers; you name it...) has always been the place to prove that your bike's the best one out where real motorcycling happens, on real roads.

Until the TTXGP and e-Power get their shit together -- until they can field a reasonable number of competitive entrants -- there's only one EV motorcycle race worth paying attention to.

Wake me next month.

And a note to the FIM: 'World Championship'? Get real.

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