Laguna Seca ePower/TTXGP Report | Part Two

Shelina Moreda’s mom proudly stands by on pre-grid while Shelina’s umbrella girl (shouldn’t that be “umbrella boy”?) protects her from the heat.

One of the most impressive stats of Sunday’s ePower/TTXGP race was that the electric motorcycles in the race were running about 10 seconds faster than they did last year. The bikes do continue to improve, even with the new 250kg maximum weight limit. The race distance was also shortened by 5 miles to allow the bikes to perform optimally with fewer batteries. Battery life and weight are still the main drawbacks. The company that develops a highly efficient, powerful and lightweight battery for EV’s stands to make a killing.

Although Mission’s glorious debut eclipsed the performance of all the other teams, here is how the rest of the field fared:

eCRP’s featherweight 8.8KwH machines fared quite well against the considerably more powerful leaders ahead of them.  AMA Pro Racer Shelina Moreda dropped 8 seconds from her best time in Friday’s practice to her best lap time in the race. Considering this was her first time ever riding an electric motorcycle, and that she rides a much faster gas bike for a living, she’ll only continue to get faster. Her teammate Alessandro Branetti, though very familiar with the eCRP, was new to Laguna Seca. Considering how difficult this track can be for newbies, and how much more powerful the competition was, Branetti performed admirably.

I spoke with Richard Hatfield briefly, and he pointed out that although he was frustrated by Mission’s success, all the bikes were much faster than last year, including his. He has developed a new motor for the Lightning, no longer adapting a bike around the EV1. The new motor consists of stator and rotor from Remy within a housing he designed. He developed the motor housing to be a stress member of the frame, like Ducati does. This saves weight, and he’s gotten the bike down to 524 lbs. He suspects the Mission R weighs 550 lbs. Hatfield stated they have not had as much track time with the new bike as their competitors have had with theirs.

So I’m sure we can see them improve as the season progresses. After all, Lightning has been building electric motorcycles since at least 2006, when I saw their converted Yamaha R1 at the Maker Faire. Hatfield also told me they were able to bring the bike to a top speed of 137mph during practice, but shortened the gearing for the race to improve acceleration. He hasn’t measured the bike’s KwH yet, but it has 450 amps at 415 volts, giving the bike about 180 Kw.

Because you’ve already seen great pictures of Brammo’s Steve Atlas in action, and it wouldn’t be Laguna Seca without the Brammo Babes, I felt this photo would be best. Here the Brammo Babes pose with the owner and the sales manager of the world’s biggest EV dealership, Hollywood Electrics. Brammo’s Adrian Stewart told me that although their bike was lighter, clearly that is not enough to beat Mission and Czysz. We’re looking forward to seeing how much of an advantage their 6-speed gearbox can bring once that’s “engaged“.

After the race, Münch’s Matthias Himmelmann looks on as eCRP’s Shelina Moreda poses for the cameras with CRP’s Sales & Marketing Director Livia Cevolini. Münch Racing has beat CRP last year in the final race at Albacete. This year, it was a close race and it seems the .6 KwH and significant weight advantages enjoyed by the smaller CRP racer Branetti held Himmelmann at bay.

The Moto Electra team was able to get the bike to Thunderstruck and back for a fresh motor just in time for Saturday’s Qualifying Practice. Thad explained to me that last year’s bike had used an Atlas Featherbed frame, making it more authentically vintage. But this year they had Framecrafters build them a custom frame, to save weight.

Proto Moto’s Ely Schless returns to the TTXGP series to finish 9th.

LGN intrigued me not only because they are the only Spanish team involved in electric motorcycle racing, but also for their interesting KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System). They explained to me that this unusual front end also incorporates a KERS. I will attempt to get more information from them to give this unusual machine the attention it deserves.

Zero’s Kenyon Kluge was unable to complete the race. The photo above is from Saturday’s Qualifying Practice, where Kluge also experienced problems. Sadly, VIR has cancelled the AMA/TTXGP race due to their own poor publicity. The Portland and Loudon rounds of TTXGP were also cancelled this year due to lack of entries. Without enough race entries, it’s not much of a race, so promoters have a difficult time justifying keeping TTXGP on their schedules. Thus, TTXGP is partnering with Brammo to make it easier than ever for racers to compete in this series. Read more here. I am now accepting sponsorship proposals for 2012, as I know I can do 1:50’s at Laguna Seca, and would gladly race an entire TTXGP season if I could. I won’t be as fast as Shelina Moreda, but I will certainly do my best.

Susanna Schick

Susanna is passionate about anything fast and electric. As long as it's only got two wheels. She covers electric motorcycle racing events, test rides electric motorcycles, and interviews industry leaders. Occasionally she deigns to cover automobile events in Los Angeles for us as well. However, she dreams of a day when Los Angeles' streets resemble the two-wheeled paradise she discovered living in Barcelona and will not rest until she's converted the masses to two-wheeled bliss.