Energica is to withdraw as official manufacturer motorcycles for the MotoE class at the end of the 2022 season. After four years, MotoE will see something other than the Energica Ego Corsa machine being raced.
The MotoE class has been a qualified success since the class started back in 2019.
It got off to a troubled start – a fire at the final test of 2019 at Jerez saw the entire fleet of Energica machines destroyed, causing the start of the inaugural season to be delayed until early July, to give Energica enough time to build replacement machines.
There were concerns about how the class would be received by fans, the motorcycle industry being notoriously conservative.
But after some mild initial skepticism, the series has been embraced, the short (7-10 lap) races producing exciting and intense battles.
The 2021 season finale at Misano 1 generated the controversy and excitement needed to raise the profile of the series, with Jordi Torres taking the title after a last-lap clash with Dominique Aegerter, the Swiss rider making a final desperate lunge into the hairpin at the end of the back straight and taking both riders down.
That was very much the objective of the class. To introduce the concept of racing electric motorcycles to fans, to get them to accept and understand it, and to get them excited about the prospect. That goal has been achieved.
The goal of creating close, competitive racing is why the series was not opened up to competition between manufacturers from the start.
That is unlikely to change until the major motorcycle manufacturers start producing electric motorcycles in sizable quantities and in power outputs equivalent to the current crop of large capacity road bikes.
So far, movement on that front has been slow, despite companies like KTM and Yamaha venturing into electric offroad bikes and scooters.
Which means that the replacement for Energica will not be any form of open competition. Instead, another company will be brought in as single supplier.
Who that is is an intriguing prospect. While there are a number of small-scale builders of electric motorcycles, the challenges of providing the logistical and engineering support for an 18-bike race series are beyond the means of most of them.
Any manufacturer wishing to supply MotoE will face many challenges, in terms of scale of production, and support for the 18 riders and teams on the grid. That requires a level of staffing which most small electric bike manufacturers do not possess.
Could Energica be replaced by a major or medium-sized manufacturer? That is an intriguing possibility. We will not have long to wait to find out.
The cycle of press releases in such instances means there is usually just a few days before the old supplier announcing they are leaving, and a new supplier being announced.
Misano, the scene of the finale of the 2021 MotoE season, would seem a fitting occasion for such an announcement.