Electric motorcycles look set to make history at the Isle of Man’s SES TT Zero race Wednesday with leading manufacturers aiming to become the first to finally break the 100mph lap.
Bob McIntyre broke the 100mph lap on a regular motorcycle back in 1957, this year though will see a number of contenders in the Zero class with the potential, based on practice qualifying form, to finally record the prestigious mark around the 37¾ mile ‘Mountain Course’ circuit.
Qualifying threw up as many questions as answers with leading contenders MotoCzysz, Kingston and Mugen all showing their hands to a certain extent. Heading the pack, and setting off from number 1 and number 2 on the grid will be American Team Segway Racing MotoCzyz with 2011 winner Michael Rutter and 2010 champion Mark Miller their riders. The Portland based team also has an all-new outfit for this year’s race.
Their previous electric racing bikes were specifically designed with attention placed on areas such as drive systems and suspension dynamics. Whilst this was further refined with the new effort, other areas have been targeted for this year’s race according to MotoCzysz founder and CEO, Michael Czysz.
“The design of the 2012 MotoCzysz E1pc focuses on overall vehicle and system efficiency, with aerodynamics being a high priority. By 2012 we were capable of building an eGrand Prix machine with sufficient torque and HP, handling and reliability, so what was next? We want more for longer. Adding range is simple; you could add more batteries or you could do more with less! Racing, the automotive industry and the world in general desperately need to recalibrate from using more, to using less more efficiently. Nowhere is this more critical than when creating an electric machine.”
Michael Rutter showed that he may start as race favourite by clocking an “unofficial” time of 102.508 mph (22:05.05) in qualifying with a speed of 153mph through the Sulby Speed Trap. Remember though, the time is only counted as official if it’s set during the race and Rutter’s teammate Mark Miller should not be ruled out having posted a 94.812mph lap.
The pre-race favourites for many though will be the Mugen Shinden team and John McGuinness, himself riding a wave of confidence having recorded a 19th TT race win Monday in the superstock class.
Mugen gave their Japanese designed and built bike its first taste of English conditions with a test at Cadwell Park ahead of the TT and McGuinness set a qualifying lap of 96.953mph, the fastest ever first lap of the Mountain Course by an electric bike. There was much rumour speculating that Mugen and McGuinness may have been sandbagging, the race should answer that question.
Kingston University, Iom Horse 1, overcame a dash failure in qualifying to set a lap of 99.5mph until their bike ran out of power 800 metres from the line and their rider, George Spence, was forced to push the bike over the line.
Other teams taking part in the first session included Lighting Superbike (John Burrows), T003X powered by Spain’s Antonio Maeso the returning Komatti-Mirai outfit from Japan, which is being ridden by Yoshinari Matsushita, Russ Mountford on the BX09 and Olie Linsdell who tested the ManTTx outfit, replacing Dan Kneen who was injured in the Supersport race earlier in the day. Italian outfit Vercarmoto has signed up 2011 Supersport Race winner Gary Johnson and the outfit, who are making their debut this year, will look to the TT winner to help them develop a competitive effort.
Weather conditions permitting, we should be in for a thrilling and historic race for the TT Zero class which should also serve to encourage more manufacturer entries for next year onwards and garner even more interest from the public and media. Exciting times indeed!