TTXGP: Brammo Wins at Infineon

05/14/2011 @ 7:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler11 COMMENTS

With rain threatening to put the kibosh on the West Coast Moto Jam’s Sunday events, the first of two scheduled TTXGP races was moved up to Saturday afternoon under the cooling wine country skies of Sonoma. With only four bikes taking to the starting grid (Lightning Motors’ two bikes were scratches, as was the Mission R by Mission Motors), it was a sparse showing for the first electric race of the 2011 season, which was disappointing considering Infineon’s proximity to a number of strong electric motorcycle entities.

Taking the overall win was Brammo Racing, which had motorcycle-racer-turned-motorcycle-journalist Steve Atlas at the helm of the Brammo Empulse RR. Brammo competed with Moto Electra’s Thad Wolff for the overall unlimited TTXGP class, while Kenyon Kluge on the VOLT bike finished third overall, besting Ely Schless and his Proto Moto bike in the Formula TTX75 class. Completing eight laps, Atlas took the Brammo Empulse RR to the winner’s circle with a 25 second gap and a best lap time of 1:57.875.

Today’s race at Infineon was a mixed bag at best. With only four bikes on the grid, two in each class, exciting and close racing was almost assured not to appear. Even the originally planned seven-bike grid was under-populated for what you would hope for in a race, and the absence of  high-profile teams like Agni, Lightning, Mission Motors, MotoCzysz, and Zero made Brammo’s first re-entry into racing since the very first TTXGP at the Isle of Man underwhelming. The team was deservedly all smiles in the winner’s circle though.

Dominating the field, even the performance of the Brammo Empulse RR was a disappointment for those hoping to see a progression in lap times from electrics. Posting a 1:57.875 best lap time during the race, Brammo and Steve Atlas were roughly a second off the best lap time from last year’s TTXGP race (1:56.948), which was set by the race winner Shawn Higbee on the Zero/Agni. This also makes the top time of today’s race roughly 10 seconds slower than the Harley-Davdison XR1200 spec-class (it also means that this reporter owes a Harley-Davidson PR person an In & Out Burger — animal style of course).

With talk of a race on Sunday (weather permitting), Richard Hatfield of Lightning Motors expressed to us that he might dust off the Flying Banana, last year’s runner-up here at Infineon & the North American TTXGP Championship winner, and come race since his 2011 bike is still being put together. The Flying Banana is currently over the weight limit imposed by TTXGP this year, which would require work by the Lightning Motors crew, which would likely distract from their efforts to now prepare the new Lightning bike for the Isle of Man. With a lot of if’s in those variables, it would still be interesting to see some closer racing on Sunday if all the variables come together.

The next time we’ll see most of these teams together will be Laguna Seca, as the FIM and TTXGP have collaborated on that race, as well as two others. TTXGP’s next event will be in New Hampshire on June 17th-18th.

Pos. No. Rider Team Time Diff.
1 58 Steve Atlas Brammo 17:44.506
2 37 Thad Wolff Moto Electra 18:10.075 25.569
3 19 Kenyon Kluge VOLT 20:03.778 2:19.272
4 18 Ely Schless Proto Moto 20:07.476 1 Lap
Not Classified
DNS 15 Mike Hannas Lightning
DNS 80 Michael Barnes Lightning
DNS 17 Steve Rapp Mission Motors

Photo: Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

  • ohio

    Wow, slower than last year’s Zero/Agni? Which was really the IoM bike from the year BEFORE that? 2 years is a really long time in electric bikes. Pretty poor showing… definitely had higher hopes for the Empulse RR based on Atlas’ write-ups in the past month.

  • Dr. Gellar

    So much for what I said in an earlier post regarding the new Lightning race bikes: the professionalism of the electric motorcycle road-racing scene has a looooong way to go before it gets anywhere near where I’d like to see it, or where it should be in order to be taken seriously by the majority of the motorcycle racing community. I mean, come on….only 4 bikes in the race!?!? And then to have the two biggest competitors (Lightning and Mission) not even race because their bikes aren’t ready?!? What a sad joke. Very, very sad… Electric motorcycle racing needs to be so much more better than this.

    Still…I’m excited to check things out tomorrow if the rain doesn’t wash everything away. And congratulations to Brammo and the other competitors in today’s race….for at least showing up and giving it a go.

  • We actually ran a FASTER race pace than last year. Look at last year’s average race speed. We also qualified faster. Steve ran consistently in the 1:57-1:58 range. The race leaders didn’t break 2:00 until the closing laps last year. Without pushing the bike or rider, and with no competition, we still ran a pace that would have walked away from last year’s winner. When Mission and Lightning get done talking and issuing press releases and actually turn a wheel on a track, we’ll see where everyone stands. Until then, a win is a win and in racing, you take them anyway you can get them. Looking forward to Seca…

  • Gavin

    Last years time was 25:33? So this years winner was almost 8 minutes faster over the nine laps???

    That sounds like a great improvement to me…maybe I have my numbers wrong? If not it seems this article could have a slightly more upbeat tone.

    Yes I would love more bikes racing. Yes I would love to see the electrics beat the gas bikes. Give it some time and both will happen.

    But a 30% improvement in race time in 1 year is fantastic.


  • Big congrats to Brammo! The Empulse is officially a Race-Proven design!

  • ohio

    Gavin, last year’s race was 11 laps, not 9 like yesterday’s. Given the limiting factor on these bikes is energy, and they ran two FEWER laps this year, the pace on the exact same bikes as last year would have considerably faster since they’d have about 20% more energy per lap to burn.

    BrammoBrian, you’re right, a win is a win for the race series, but the real battle is public perception and frankly having a 2 year old bike put up a better lap time on it’s final lap of 11 than this year’s bike doesn’t count like “walking away from last year’s winner” and doesn’t do much to convince the public that these are performance machines ready for prime time.

    I hope when Mission, Csysz and Lighting get their bikes together it’ll light a fire under the RR, and we’ll start seeing the improved performance I would have expected.

  • “When Mission and Lightning get done talking and issuing press releases and actually turn a wheel on a track, we’ll see where everyone stands. Until then, a win is a win and in racing, you take them anyway you can get them. Looking forward to Seca…” sounds like a well put challenge to me Brian.

    For reference last year’s race was 11 laps, and this year’s was 8 laps…we could probably debate until we’re blue in the face about how that affects things.

    For the record, Brammo’s lap times for Race 1 were the following:

    Lap 1 – 3:51.142
    Lap 2 – 1:58.833
    Lap 3 – 1:58.064
    Lap 4 – 1:57.875 (best time)
    Lap 5 – 1:59.044
    Lap 6 – 1:58.441
    Lap 7 – 1:58.207
    Lap 8 – 2:02.899

    Make of that what you will; however the lap times for the second race put the issue to bed I think, with 1:55 and 1:56’s abounding.

  • Gavin

    THanks for the info…I was wondering why Brammo was 8 minutes faster.

    Good to see Brammo open the RR up a bit more on the second day and set a new track record for an electric.

    Word has it that they were limiting the RR to 85 % power… Hopefully they will go even faster next race and get more in the 90 to 95% power limits.

    More teams and faster bikes are a good thing…hoping to see Mission and Lightning and more at the next race.


  • Bob

    “When Mission and Lightning get done talking and issuing press releases and actually turn a wheel on a track, we’ll see where everyone stands”

    Ha! I loved that comment, especially from the main Brammo engineer. He’s so right though. You gotta give Brammo tons of credit for actually putting rubber on the road, unlike Mission’s vapor-ware bike!

  • 8 minutes faster? wow. that is a great improvement

  • Kind of beating a dead horse here, but I’m still trying to track down why that first lap is listed as a 3:51.142. It looks like timing and scoring included the warm-up lap or at least some portion of it. Our on-board Motec data ac system records that first lap from a standing start as a 2:01.