Due to my inability to patiently read through every line of a fine-print schedule for the weekend’s events, I almost missed today’s Free Practice for the ePower/TTXGP race. Luckily I had to run back to the media center for my sweater, and along the way I spotted one of the Barracuda Lightning bikes heading to the track entrance. So I walked over to pit lane to see what was up. On pit lane, Steve Atlas had parked the Brammo Empulse to tighten the steering head, as he’d felt a bit of chatter. He then went back out to complete two more laps, the second of which was his best time at 1:39, putting him in second place behind Michael Barnes on the Lightning with a 1:35.
Here’s the full list:
As it stands now, the Zeros would most certainly be disqualified from racing, as they are not within 120% of the lead finisher. However, I spoke with an ePower/TTXGP representative who said it’s likely they would be allowed to race even though they would not earn any points in ePower. They’d still earn points in TTXGP. While it’s nice that there’s a class for people who can’t afford an unobtanium electric race bike like the Brammo, Lightning, Czysz, Mission, or Münch, the superstock bikes are slow by comparison.
However, building and developing a fast electric motorcycle is a very expensive proposition. For now, electric racing fans such as myself will have to be satisfied with smaller grids or very disparate fields. And sometimes even both. I had a long talk with an FIM representative about the current state of electric motorcycle racing. He pointed out that when gas-powered racing began over 100 years ago, the fields were often as small as six bikes too. If passion were enough to fuel a race team, then every club racer in the world would be professional. Myself included.
Speaking of professional racers, Brammo racer Eric Bostrom had a bit of a surprise when he went to leave the pit for Free Practice. The bike which had performed flawlessly on the dyno the night before suddenly lurched backwards into the trailer as soon as he opened the throttle. I spoke with a Brammo tech who explained that they were trying to find the cause of the malfunction. They were using a new controller, and were waiting to hear back from the manufacturer about the problem. However, he told me he wouldn’t place all the blame on the controller, that they weren’t sure if there was a short somewhere in the system. When Eric would open the throttle, the bike would reverse direction. Yet when he’d close it then open it again, it’d go forward. They’ll be working hard to sort this out by tomorrow afternoon.
Tom Montano finished third in Free Practice with a 1:43. The veteran racer has done thousands of miles as a development rider for Mission and now Lightning, so he has a lot of solid experience with electric bikes.
Brammo is running the third and final (so I was told) iteration of the Parker GVM racing motor they’ve developed in partnership with Parker over the last few years. They tell me it has 140HP to the rear wheel in the current configuration, and may go as high as 160HP for Sunday’s race.