Last weekend marked the third return of the FIM’s e-Power electric motorcycle racing series to Laguna Seca, and the second year in which e-Power and TTXGP jointly ran the race. This year it was the Barracuda Lightning team who was victorious, over rival Icon Brammo. The weekend also marked another stride forward for the electric motorcycle racing scene, with three teams performing at or near the speed of the 600cc superbikes. The race featured most of the top electric motorcycle teams from North America and Europe (it lacked both MotoCzysz and Mission Motors).
Michael Barnes, riding for the Barracuda Lightning team, led for the entire race with consistent 1:35-1:37 lap times, and a best lap time, 1:35.319. On Saturday during qualifying his best lap time of 1:33.860 was fast enough to have qualified 24th in the pack of 26 bikes in the 600cc superbike race held the same weekend at Laguna Seca. Last year was the first time an electric motorcycle race saw lap times equaling 600cc superbikes, when Mission Motors’ rider Steve Rapp had a 1:31 best lap time during qualifying, and a 1:33 lap time during the race. This year not only did the Lightning team achieve the same, both Brammo and Meunch Racing are not far behind.
In the Daytona Sportbike race held last weekend at Laguna Seca, the slowest lap times during qualifying was 1:36.766, by Benny Solis. During the e-Power/TTX race, the three winning bikes had faster best lap times. Barnes, riding for Barracuda Lightning, had a 1:35.319 best lap time during the race. Steve Atlas, riding for Icon Brammo, had a 1:35.625 best lap time, and Eric Bostrom, also riding for Icon Brammo, 1:36.259 best lap time. The next two finishers were not far behind, with Matthias Himmelmann, riding for Meunch Racing, with a 1:37.246 best lap time, and Tom Montano, riding for Barracuda Lightning, with a 1:37.681 best lap time.
In the overall project of electric motorcycle racing, the long term goal is to reach full parity with the gasoline powered superbikes. This year at Laguna Seca was the closest yet to that goal with three bikes being ridden faster than the slowest of the 600cc superbikes, and another two within a second of that mark. While the top electric motorcycles in the series are now running at the same speed as the 600cc superbikes, the electric races are still half the total distance. Having reached parity with the speed aspect of the 600cc superbikes, reaching parity with the distance of those races will require a breakthrough in battery energy density. Battery researchers around the world are working on just such a breakthrough.
1: #80, Michael Barnes, Barracuda Lightning, 14’32.060 total time, 134.123 KM/hr
2: #58, Steve Atlas, Icon Brammo, 14’34.963 total time, 133.678 KM/hr, 2.903 gap
3: #32, Eric Bostrom, Icon Brammo, 14’44.858 total time, 132.183 KM/hr, 12.798 gap
4: #49, Matthias Himmelmann, Meunch, 14’48.385 total time, 131.659 KM/hr, 16.325 gap
5: #89, Tom Montano, Barracuda Lightning, 15’33.042 total time, 125.357 KM/hr, 1’00.982 gap
6: #65, Katja Poensgen, Meunch, 14’56.804 total time, 115.931 KM/hr, 1 lap
7: #72, Robert Hancock, Virginia Tech, 15’48.618 total time, 109.599 KM/hr, 1 lap
8: #96, Kenyon Kluge, K Squared Racing (Zero Motorcycles), 16’35.131 total time, 104.476 KM/hr, 1 lap
9: #11, Ted Rich, Zero Motorcycles, 16’35.474 total time, 104.44 KM/hr, 1 lap
10: #89, Jeremiah Johnson, BE-EV.com (Zero Motorcycles), 14’43.477 total time, 102.97 KM/hr, 2 laps
DNF: #18 Ely Schless, ProtoMoto