The FIM’s e-Power Championship came to American soil this weekend, as the series piggybacked off the Red Bull US GP. Twelve teams from around the world arrived at Laguna Seca to test their mettle against the historic and technical track. While the racing would technically be bike against bike, the undulating tarmac of Seca was certainly also an adversary as well.
Lightning Motors and Michael Barnes took the pole position during Saturday’s qualifying, leaving MotoCzysz and Michael Czysz relegated to the second position on the starting line. Coming from behind on Sunday’s race, MotoCzysz won the e-Power race at Laguna Seca with a dramatic pass just 10 feet from the finish line.
For MotoCzysz, the victory was another notch in the belt, as the team recently won at the TT Zero event at the Isle of Man. For Michael Czysz the race didn’t come easily though. Popping a circuit on the start, Czysz had to reboot the E1pc before he could get underway, and found himself lapping in third place. “By Turn 1 I’m way deep in third position, and Barney has a five six second lead…and the whole goal there is not to panic, and to start laying out your game plan.” Over the first few laps, Barnes and the “Flying Banana” were able to gap Czysz consistently, taking an almost 10 second lead by the third lap.
This margin would remain until the the sixth lap when the Lightning Motors bike started suffering from a loss in power, which allowed Czysz to start chipping away at Barnes’ pace, a few tenths at a time at each timing station. “I saw that it [lap time gap] was starting to come back , and I know what the shape of the battery fall-off looks like. We were designed and calibrated to not hit that knee point, and I though ‘he’s at that knee point’, and from there it degrades quite quick,” explains Czysz.
By the seventh lap, Czysz was over a second quicker than Barnes, but with such a large lead and only a few laps remaining, it seemed the Flying Banana had struck again. Crossing the bridge over the front straight for the final time, Czysz was 6.7 seconds behind Barnes, but as he entered into the first timing station, another second had disappeared on that gap. The Lightning bike was slowing. “There was a slight power decrease about 75% of the way through the race, and then about the last lap I really noticed a 40% decrease in power,” said Barnes.
At the third timing station, Czysz was only behind Barnes by 3.6 seconds, and on a charge forward. The two bikes came down the front straight together, and 10 feet from the finish line, Czysz passed Barnes for the race win. For Czysz’s liking, the battery fall-off could have come a little bit earlier, but he still set his fastest time on the last lap. With all of these factors working out to create a last-minute pass, Czysz exclaimed “It’s about as exciting as you can get!”
“I didn’t think we were going to slow down that much on the last lap, but we did,” Barnes exclaimed. “We would have been fine no problem with the race distance of 9 laps, but the sighting and the warm-up lap is what took our race win away. We just have to figure out a way…you know that’s just the FIM rules and we have to go by them just like everyone else.” Barnes and Lightning Motors have won the last two races in the TTXGP series, and will likely take the North American TTXGP Championship at VIR in a couple weeks. Czysz has not yet stated what his next plans for the rest of the electric racing season.
Race Results from e-Power at Laguna Seca, California:
|2||80||Michael BARNES||USA||Lightning Motorcycles||16’03.834||1.238|
|3||22||Thijs DE RIDDER||BEL||Crystalite Europe.com Racing||16’39.245||36.649|
|4||115||Thomas BETTI||ITA||Betti Moto||17’35.820||1’33.224|
|5||49||Matthias HIMMELMANN||GER||Münch Racing Team||17’36.067||1’33.471|
|6||38||Luciano BETTI||ITA||Betti Moto||17’55.215||1’52.619|
|7||15||Mike HANNAS||USA||Electricracebikes.com EGP||17’32.355||1 lap|
|8||17||Christian AMENDT||GER||Epo-Bike.de||16’03.198||2 laps|
|Did Not Start|
|DNS||8||Ely SCHLESS||USA||Pro Moto Racing|