Electric Teams Just Want to Race Against the Best

02/17/2010 @ 1:49 pm, by Jensen Beeler20 COMMENTS

In the flurry of press releases sent out by TTXGP regarding what teams were signing up for its racing events, TTXGP mentioned that several teams had agreed to exclusive deals to compete only in the TTXGP series of races. At the time, this meant that the teams would be racing in their local TTXGP series events, the Isle of Man, and possibly at the Championship event in Spain. However with the announcement that TT Zero would replace TTXGP at the Isle of Man, teams that were hoping to race at the Isle of Man, may find themselves precluded from the event because of these prior obligations. Talking to a number of American electric motorcycle teams this past week, it is clear the first priority for all these teams is to race at the venues where the best competition will be…wherever that may be.

For many teams the Isle of Man represents the pinnacle of electric motorcycle racing. Having already run the Mountain Course before, there is a tangible baseline in electric racing that is defined by the historic course. On top of this, the Isle of Man offers an opportunity for teams around the world to compete against each other in a race that has gained a great deal of exposure over the past year, and is a known entity to everyday motorcyclists.

For the teams involved this presents a quandary on where to race, and who will be there…an issue most of these teams would rather not face. For example Edward West President of Mission Motors, and the man in charge of Mission’s racing efforts, expressed to us a sentiment that we’ve heard variations of from a number of American based electric motorcycle teams, “We have very little interest in the politics of the situation. What we are interested in is racing, and we’re interested in pushing forward this technological envelope with the best competition in the world”

Where the competition will be is the uncertainty. A lot remains to be seen as to where Brammo and MotoCzysz will decide to race. It seems unlikely that either team would miss a opportunity to race at the TTXGP opener at Infineon in May, especially since Zero and Mission Motors will be there and track is just “down the road” from them. However it also is hard to think that the Oregon crew will miss out on tackling the Isle of Man as well this year, as both teams are rumored to have new bikes in the works, and have much prove with a year’s worth of time to refine and build new race bikes.

For a team like Mission Motors, the road is less clear. With an exclusivity presumably keeping them from racing again at the TT Zero event, they may be precluded from racing with the best caliber of racers available. However, with the changes in the electric racing climate, some could say that TTXGP’s ousting from the Isle of Man is a material change to any agreement made.

Whatever the reasoning, the TT Zero announcement is enough to give Mission Motors pause, as Edward West told us, “there was a sea of change in my mind when they lost their crown jewel event…and that is something that we are absolutely reconsidering right now, as a result of the fallout from the TT Zero decision.” Knowing that Brammo, MotoCzysz, Agni, and others will likely be at the Isle of Man this year, it would seem Mission would be better placed racing against the best competitors on the Island, rather than racing around Road America by themselves. Who knows what final decision they will make, but we’re expecting a very quiet race in Wisconsin later this year.

  • “Who knows what final decision they will make, but we’re expecting a very quiet race in Wisconsin later this year.” That’s pretty clever, Jensen. You’re an “I told you so” kind of guy, aren’t you? I can respect that. That sentence will be correct whether they have a field of 40 bikes, a dozen, none, or heck, even if the planet gets blown to bits. Because, as we all know, “In Space, no one can hear your electric motor whirring.”

  • Zinger! Ha, nice one Harry.

  • ev fan

    couple of points i find strange that iw ould love your view on…

    For an online magazine jumping up and down about your own IP and content being stolen by another, you seem to be a little less supportive of the originator when referring to someone else’s IP … hypocritical possibly or do you have good reason not to believe in TTXGP ? If yes do tell – why keep the juicy stuff to yourself?

    Another possible angle for this story was reported today by MCN – makes interesting reading and I believe their take on the situation as it looks like they dug a little deeper in looking for the “truth” – although, like most, am open to be convinced otherwise by the A&R legend…


  • “Talking to a number of American electric motorcycle teams this past week, it is clear the first priority for all these teams is to race at the venues where the best competition will be…wherever that may be.”

    I agree. No one is showing their cards yet. I think everyone is also asking “at the end of 2010, will a win at Albacete look better than a win at IOM? I agree that there is a baseline at IOM that everyone will want to beat. But everyone wants a headline to help them sell bikes. I personally think winning a series such as eGrandPrix/TTXGP is the greater win than the TT Zero. Especially if Team Agni does not show up.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post. Can’t wait to hear what you, Wes, Guy and Ivar know that I don’t :D

    P.S. I don’t believe Mission is not paying attention to the politics or at least some of it. I have some serious concerns about whatever organization is not telling the truth. How could Mission not?

  • Where’s the edit button? When I said “Especially if Team Agni does not show up” I meant at IOM.

  • @skadamo
    I’m not sure what a race at Albacete will look like…if what i’m hearing is true, there will be a significant stratifcation between the “professionals” and “amateurs” (using this terms loosely, hence the quotes) as far as performance goes. These race outcomes are still more about the bike and not the rider, and will continue to be that way for some time.

    With this in mind, here are my early predictions:

    TTXGP Italy: snooze fest watching the crp racing/mavizen’s make up 99% of the grid.

    TTXGP UK: Agni blowing the hobbyist and universities out of the water

    TTXGP USA: Too hard to say what the whole series will look like if there’s even a meaningful grid outside of Infineon, but at we’ll get a preview at Infineon of what TT Zero will be like.

    That being said, if the American companies really have improved that much more in one year’s time…Albacete will be like Infineon with Agni showing up as well….that’s assuming that TT Zero hasn’t already settled things. If I was a Brammo/MotoCzysz/Mission Motors, why would I run at Albacete against everyone I already beat at Infineon and TT Zero? That’s $10,000+ in capital I can save for next year.

    @ev fan
    There’s no IP in racing rules…at least not legally. We can debate “moral” rights and wrongs, but TTXGP has zero recourse in a courtroom. There’s also some debate as to who actually wrote those rules, not everyone agrees TTXGP is the author. Azhar has been pretty quiet on that point, and other sites have been the one trumpeting that issue, so…

    I wouldn’t mind taking a quick straw vote from all the sites that cover this space, and see which writers have actually sat down in person and talked with Azhar. I’ve met him twice. I’ve never had someone ask me for a story retraction and a favor within a 10 minute’s time.

  • Electric Teams Just Want to Race Against the Best http://bit.ly/9hqOjZ

  • Electric Teams Just Want to Race with the Best – http://bit.ly/a3728j #motorcycle (via @Asphalt_Rubber)

  • Pingback: Asphalt_Rubber()

  • RT @Asphalt_Rubber: Electric Teams Just Want to Race with the Best – http://bit.ly/a3728j #motorcycle

  • RT@Asphalt_Rubber:Electric Teams Just Want to Race with the Best – http://bit.ly/a3728j

  • IvarK

    I guess I’m one of the sites that covers this space. I’ve spent more time talking to Azhar and FIM than I’ve done on any other story. Noone has asked me to retract anything. Being asked for favours is a good thing. It means someone thinks you’ve got influence. It doesn’t mean you have to say yes.

    With regards to the article: Of course they are “uninterested in the politics” and “just want to race against the best”, but it’s naive to think it’s possible. As the situation is, choosing where to race is politics.

  • @Jensen Good point on the cost of running TTXGP Series vs IOM. Would love to see a breakdown of IOM vs. TTXGP series.

    On the bright side I think TTXGP will provide more visibility to sponsors. Maybe Azhar could help these teams find some sponsors? I hear there is a lot of money in this Green tech stuff. :)

    I still think winning the TTXGP series would be better. There would be a lot of learning and technology advances in 5 rounds of racing versus 1 lap at IOM.

  • @skadamo
    It’s certainly a debate that has no clear answer (TT Zero vs. Albacete), and the two aren’t mutually exclusive (except for the lost points from not racing at Road America).

    I think the fact that companies like Mission Motors are even pondering what TTXGP not being at IOM means for them shows the importance the importance IOMTT plays in their mind…and they’re the ones whose opinion really matters.

    If everyone shows up at TT Zero and not at Albacete, which event are you going to give more prestige to in your mind?

  • Ian W

    Appears Motoczysz have stuck their heads above the parapet…


  • @Jensen .. maybe you have little understanding what “Intellectual property” means? There’s a lot of intellect and research and development that goes into developing something like a document on racing rules. It’s not something you hack out in an afternoon. Any time someone writes something there is an opportunity to put a copyright notice on it, and hence turn it into “property”. So technically there is both intellect and property associated with a set of racing rules. I do understand that FIM rules are published in a way that they’re widely used even outside FIM sanctioned races. For example the TT races, I understand, are run using FIM rules but not sanctioned by FIM. To do that FIM must be publishing under a copyright that allows for such use. As for who wrote the TTXGP rules – I think the TTXGP team has made it very clear that they put a lot of work into it. Certainly when I talk with Azhar that’s the story I get. It’s been very clear that for example they arranged with the IET to act as a technical advisory board, and that the IET did a lot of the work to define the rules. And remember that prior to the TTXGP coming onto the scene FIM’s idea of “clean” motorcycle racing was to research biofuels (look at past issues of the FIM newsletter for their clean motorcycle racing effort). Hence FIM had approximately zero expertise in electric anything.

  • @David

    Your analysis only shows your complete lack of understanding for what copyright law is, and how it operates. Check my credentials, I’d be more than happy to let you borrow a copyright law text or two.

  • @Jensen, huh? I have been dealing with copyright law for years in particular in regard to software copyrights on open source software. I am certainly very comfortable with the issues around copyrights. On the other hand your claim that there’s “There’s no IP in racing rules” struck me as extremely odd. I haven’t looked at what copyright FIM puts on their rules documents but I am very well aware of Berne Convention and other kinds of automatic copyrights.

    In other fields standards documents are often heavily protected behind copyright and other legal agreements.

  • @Daivd

    You’re basing your argument on the attachment of copyright protection at the time a creative work is produced. Yes, that is a correct understanding of when copyright law attaches. No, it is not the proper analysis for this situation.

    Do me a favor and quote me fully next time. I said, “There’s no IP in racing rules…at least not legally.” I’m here to argue about authorship or moral rights and wrongs. I’m speaking about recourse in a court of law.

    Just because you write something down, doesn’t make it a copyright, even it requires “intellect” as you put it. Do me another favor, work out by hand the first 10 digits of Pi, and write them down. Do you proclaim to have a copyright on that work you just created? Calculating Pi isn’t easy, and takes a great degree of intellect.

    The best argument for there being IP protection in racing rules would be under a sui generis theory of law. You’re not arguing that here, nonetheless there’s no case law to suggest that sort of protection exists in this matter.

  • @Jensen, perhaps my background in the software industry is doing me a disservice. I just read Mark Gardiner’s reports on this published on roadracerx.com and he quotes Crellin discussing the rules TT Zero would be using as an amalgam of rules picked from TTXGP 2009, IET/ACU and FIM’s e-Power. Clearly from IOMTT’s point of view it’s perfectly reasonable to pick up rules from wherever they wish to find them.

    In the software industry this sort of behavior is a big no-no. A particular issue is copyright and for example whether two works have compatible copyrights. But the strongest analogy here is the various standards to computer equipment and software. The race rules do define the specs of acceptable bikes in the same way that standards documents define the acceptable behavior of software of hardware. Standards like this are the basis of multi-billion-dollar industries and often the subject of lawsuits.

    Crellin’s attitude as related by Gardiner is very shocking. The equivalent in the software world would be for a company like Microsoft to take code from some other company and just put it in Windows without any acknowledgement or license agreement. Microsoft has done this several times and been successfully sued for doing so.