As you read about here, I was invited to participate in the 6th annual M1GP 8 hour endurance race, as a member of Team Hollywood Electrics. As the first (and only) female on the team, my race entry fee was waived, so I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to race a brand-new electric bike for free! Sustainable Solutions Partners supplied us with a solar generator, as well as a gas generator. We had about eight batteries at our disposal, and the solar panels were enough to charge two at a time, albeit a bit more slowly than the gas generator.
Here’s the full race report from team owner Harlan Flagg:
The 8 Hour Endurance Race was a fun opportunity to show the entry level Zero XU in a competitive environment under continuous use. Although we were disappointed that a technical issue prevented us from completing the entire 8 hours, the roadblock was not the batteries or charging capacity.
The riders were: Jeremiah Johnson, Jeff Clark, Brandon Nozaki Miller, Nathan Barker, and Susanna Schick, all Hollywood Electrics customers who have purchased bikes and all Pikes Peak racers, except for Susanna.
The solar charger provided a few kW of charging capacity but we had a generator to supplement our charging needs. We did not want to fall short on the charging so we had more than enough charging power. A quick estimate put our energy consumption at about 1kW every 10 minutes (6kW every hour) and we had one generator that was able to produce 6kW, another at 2kW and the solar charger was able to supply about the same as long as the battery bank was charged.
Hollywood Electrics supplied the Zero XU and prepared it for the race with Zero S rims with upgraded front brakes. The extra bits were removed and crash protection installed. The rear axle sliders and hand protectors proved useful, causing only superficial damage to the bike for the most part, until a hard crash bent the forks.
After a minor low side, Jeff pitted the bike and a failure to follow our established procedure of turning off the bike at pitting time led to an unrecoverable failure. It was not the removal or replacement of the batteries that caused the failure but it did cause the detection of the failure and ultimately the bike refused to operate, protecting itself from further damage, until the failure was corrected. With limited preparation time, we did not have all the parts available to repair the bike and decided that after 141 laps and nearly 4 hours of riding, we were satisfied with what we had accomplished and learned a lot from the experience.
The bike performed very well, on par with the rest of the competitors riding their ICE bikes. Fastest lap of the day was a 1:11 by Brandon Nozaki Miller. Here’s a video of our pitstop: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vngxQY32si4
Jeremiah Johnson came out from Florida to race with us and his input as an experienced endurance racer was invaluable. He had this to say after the race: “It was a fun event and I’m really glad I was able to honor Kenny Anderson like this.” This M1GP race was held in honor of Kenny Anderson, a young racer who recently died. He had won this race in 2010 and truly loved racing. Kenny’s father was on hand and told us how grateful he was for the memorial, and for the money we were raising for the family.
Jeremiah, Brandon, and Jeff (still with his helmet on after crashing, like a true team player!) do their best to adjust the forks, but quickly find out the internals are so badly bent the forks won’t rebound.
Waiting for my second turn, which never came, I enjoyed the race from the prime seat of my very own Zero FX. Because it still had the stock wheels and tires, I went and played in the dirt a bit after we learned the race bike was dead. It’s fun riding a bike I can’t flat foot, but I will need it a bit lower if I’m to do any proper flat track riding on it. It might be entirely too tall for that, but that won’t stop me from trying. This is the bike I’ll race if I choose to continue in the M1GP series. It all comes down to money, after all.
Despite having never ridden a Zero XU, or even visited Grange raceway, a very technical kart track, I had a blast riding the race bike once I found my way around the track. It’s easy to ride, lightweight, and handles well. The S brakes and wheels worked really well, so we were able to run wider tires, giving us more confidence on this track.
Images: Kelly Byrne Photo