Michael Barnes led the charge with a drag-race worthy start. Bostrom then Atlas weren’t far behind, although Barnes opened the gap throughout the race. The leading bikes from Barracuda Lightning and Icon Brammo kept fairly consistent times and top speeds at the start/finish line while the Superstock bikes became noticeably slower throughout the race. At least the announcer made a point of mentioning that the TTXGP Superstock bikes are ones anyone can buy at a Zero motorcycles dealership, while the faster bikes are essentially unobtanium at this point.* Brammo plans to make their Empulse TTX available for sale to racers in 2013, but for 2012 there are only Zero S bikes available for this series.
On the 4th lap, Atlas made it past Bostrom, both on the Icon Brammo Empulse R machines. Bostrom explained that he had been pushing the bike a little too hard, riding it more like a gas bike. He told us in the press conference that he’d gotten on the bike for the first time only a week prior. At the time, he told Brammo “If this isn’t fun, I’m not gonna do it.” Then he told us that from the first time he cracked the throttle open he had a huge smile on his face. Also on the 4th lap, the lead bikes began to lap the field. First the Zero’s, then up to the 7th place bike of Hancock on the Virgina Tech machine on the next lap, then even Katja Poengson on the Münch by lap 7.
Barnes took the checker flag with almost a 3 second gap over Atlas. In the press conference, Barnes told us:
” I wasn’t about to lose this race, we’ve worked so hard to hold enough energy for the 9 lap race. It’s a very promising future for us, we’re 4 seconds faster than last year and 12 seconds faster than 2010.” Nick Harris then pointed out that Barnes’ top speed was 134mph, to which Barnes replied: “That’s appropriate because my usual race number is 34! I have to say, the brute torque on the Barracuda Lightning feels more like a liter bike.”
Nick Harris asks Steve Atlas: “What’s the next step racing wise for ePower?”
Atlas: I’d imagine a bit more parity among competitors, it wasn’t as much of a runaway as in years past, and I’ve had to manage my power throughout the race. As the battery technology continues to grow, we’re getting closer to superbike weight, and creeping up on superbike times. In qualifying practice, A 15cent resistor in the bike blew so I only did 1 full lap. So the first few laps I stuck behind Eric and figured I could do what he could, since we’re on the same bike. Then he had a small issue so I passed him on lap 4. I think having Eric on board will help Brammo develop the bikes.”
Nick Harris then asked Eric Bostrom: “You’ve ridden many bikes, in many different classes, and here you are in an ePower race. It’s an interesting concept. What do you have to say about it?”
Bostrom: I rode the bike for the first time a week ago and said if I don’t like it I’m out. But it gave me a big smile, and surpassed all my expectations. Unfortunately I’m still coming up to speed with how to ride it, which may have caught me out during the race. The biggest disappointment was not being able to keep Barney honest. The riding technique takes some getting used to- not being able to give full gas all the time. Right now we’re having to nurse them a bit, but it’s just teething problems. But I bet if you talked to Kenny Roberts Sr. he’d say the same about the TZ250 back in the day. It was difficult not having engine RPM to gauge wheelspin. The electric bike is lacking sensations I had relied on my whole career, but there’s more feedback from the tires & brake rotors.
Later today I’ll post a gallery of proper (read: professional) photos from the race.
* With the exception of the Lightning, which is sold to order directly from the manufacturer.