TTXGP’s inaugural North American race is in the bag at Infineon, as race fans got to see two close battles for first and third place this weekend. Blasting off the line was the yellow Lightning Motors bike, or the “Flying Banana” as it’s become known here in the paddock. Lightning’s rider, Michael Barnes, made quick work of Shawn Higbee and his Zero/Agni race bike off the line and on the straights, showing a very strong power package.
With all the power on-board though, Barney was limited by his heavy and bulky bike, and wasn’t able to carry that speed into the corners as well as Higbee and his more slight Agni bike. Higbee, known for carrying a lot of corner speed, made up a lot of ground on Lightning, making it a close battle between the two riders.
Unfortunately for Barnes, the Lightning Motors bike tripped its power sensors, causing Barney to have to reset 10 different circuits, before “control-alt-deleting” the bike back to life. This put the Flying Banana a lap down from Zero/Agni, who went on to take a comfortable victory.
Taking third for the day, Mike Hannas and the Electric Race Bike entry also looked very strong during the race, with their Yamaha TZ 250 based entry. Again the lightweight formula proved to be a winner at Infineon, which is a very technical course that has large changes in elevation. Hannas was able to fend off Jennifer Bromme from Werkstatt Racing and her Mavizen TTX02, finishing 18 seconds ahead of Werkstatt.
The big disappointment for the day was the DNF by Thad Wolff, which was only able to complete three laps of the race. We also did not get to see Chip Yates and the SWIGZ bike take to the track, although the bike was in the paddock. Both bikes had a lot of power on board, and were favored to do well this weekend. Wolff qualified third on the grid, and turned more than a few heads with his Norton chassis bike.
While the level of competitiveness varied amongst the contenders, Higbee’s and Barnes’ laps proved to many that electric bikes can run quickly on a road course. Higbee’s top time was 18 seconds off the AMA Daytona Superbike top time, and the Zero/Agni bike averaged just under 60 mph at Infineon (AMA riders average over 85 mph at Infineon). Still there are plenty of doubts about electrics, as the majority of the TTXGP field lapped Infineon at a far less impressive paces than the front-runners.
Given the amount of time, energy, and money that went into all these race bikes, it’s a high-hurdle that teams have to go through in order to begin to match ICE performance characteristics, which really is the high-water threshold that this sport needs to reach in order to be taken seriously by mainstream racing fans.
Is electric motorcycle racing a fad or the future? It depends on who you ask. The local gentry at Infineon would seem unaffected by today’s race, but there were more than just the 10 people on the starting grid today that thought otherwise. Only time will tell.
|2||80||Michael Barnes||Lightning||25:51.8||1 Lap|
|3||15||Mike Hannas||Electric Race Bike||26:44.2||1 Lap|
|4||23||Jennifer Bromme||Werkstatt||26:57.7||1 Lap|
|5||14||Kenyon Kluge||K Squared||29:54.6||1 Lap|
|6||18||Zoe Rem||Pril Motors||–||2 Laps|
|7||16||John Wild||Square Wave||–||3 Laps|
|8||20||Jason Lauritzen||Electric Motor Sports||–||3 Laps|
|DNF||19||Spencer Smith||Volt Motors||–||–|
|DNF||37||Thad Wolff||Team Electra||–||–|