After our Bothan Spies brought back photos of the new Lightning Motors electric race motorcycle, we got this concept sketch of the new 2012 “Flying Banana” that gives us some idea or what to expect this weekend at Infineon for the first round of the North American TTXGP series. It is hard to glean any real information off the sketch, other than of course that the machine will have two-wheels, a seat, and some fairings.
What we can tell from this information though is that the Lightning is suspiciously svelte compared to last year’s racing machine. Though it’s easy to hide a motorcycle’s mass in two dimensions, it looks like Lightning Motors has gone on a diet with its design philosophy, which backs up the information we got that the machine has lost 150 lbs from its previous bulk. Time will tell what sort of sacrifices the team had to make in order to achieve that feat, but with two bikes listed on their card, Lightning seems to mean business this year.
We just got an update from Richard Hatfield at Lightning Motors about his team’s progress on the 2011 “Flying Banana” (there’s no escaping that name Richard), and without having seen all the bikes for this racing season, we would peg Lightning’s as the one to beat.
When we talked to Lightning at the end of last season, the stated goal for the 2011 bike was to remove 150 lbs, and add 150hp to the machine. With the parts coming together, Hatfield informs us that the team is on-track to achieve that goal – translation: this bike is going to be wicked fast and agile…and of course, yellow.
UPDATE 2: Richard Hatfield, owner of Lightning Motors, sent this in a text message from Bonneville: “We ran 176.044 as our best speed. The average down and return FIM and AMA speed record was 173.388 mph.”
UPDATE: Just got this in an email from Michael Czysz: “we ran 163 — however they just did 174/175.”
On the salt flats of Bonneville, two electric motorcycle teams are battling for the bragging right to be called “Fastest Production Electric Motorcycle in the World”. TTXGP North America winner Lightning Motors and FIM e-Power and TT Zero Winner MotoCzysz are at the BUB Speed Trials, and from the reports we’ve gotten, the two teams have been trading land speed records all weekend. The latest news we have is that Lightning Motors has clocked the latest LSR with 173mph on the salt flats, breaking the 150 mph record set by Mission Motors at BUB last year, but there’s still time today for that record to again drop.
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.
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.
Qualifying ended today at Infineon Raceway, with nearly all the riders improving on their times in the day’s later qualifying session. While all the entrants will get to compete in the race regardless of whether or not they qualify, the two outings for Saturday gave us a preview as to what we can expect on Sunday’s race. As we’ve mentioned before, the Zero/Agni motorcycle looked very strong with Shawn Higbee at the helm.
Also looking confident was the “flying banana” fielded by Lightning Motors. Piloted by Michael Barnes, Barney took the yellow lightning machine around the course at a pace that was just seconds off what Higbee & Co. were lapping. We know the yellow bike has a lot of power on-board, and could give Zero a run for their money if they’ve been sand-bagging it during the practice sessions. Finishing out the top three was Thad Wolff and his stunning Norton, which blended a little bit of old with new with his streamlined retro bike chassis. Click past the jump for photos from qualifying and a full list of results.
Watch out Mission Motors, electric motorcycle manufacturer Lightning Motorcycles is gunning for you. This week at the SCTA World Finals at the Bonneville Salt Flats, the Lightning’s pre-production prototype set a speed of 166.388 mph. While only completing a single pass down the salt flats, and not a return journey to make an official speed entry, 166 mph is still an impressive mark, and has provided the company with crucial information as they get ready to go commercial in 2010. Photos and more after the jump.