ELEC­TRIC GP IS GO

Mo­togp plans to launch an elec­tric world cham­pi­onship in 2019. Af­ter sev­eral false starts will this be the mo­ment elec­tric bike racing fi­nally sparks into life?

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Sport - By Mat Ox­ley MCN SPORT CON­TRIB­U­TOR

Mo­togp plans to run an elec­tric bike cham­pi­onship from 2019, along­side its ex­ist­ing Mo­togp, Moto2 and Moto3 cat­e­gories. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta is al­ready in talks with man­u­fac­tur­ers with the idea of run­ning it at five Mo­togp rounds.

“It is the right time to have an elec­tric class in Mo­togp,” says Ezpeleta. “Now we are talk­ing with dif­fer­ent elec­tric bike mak­ers and then we will see. We have had a lot of in­ter­est from peo­ple. Our aim is to start the se­ries the year af­ter next, with maybe one race at the end of 2018.”

Dorna will make its first foray into elec­tric racing with a one-make se­ries be­cause the Mo­togp right­sh­old­ers be­lieve there’s cur­rently too great a per­for­mance dif­fer­en­tial be­tween bikes to en­sure close racing.

“It will be some­thing like Moto2, ex­cept with all the bikes com­pletely the same,” added Ezpeleta.

Dorna also want all bikes to be recharged by re­new­able energy. “This is one idea we have – to recharge the bikes with clean energy,” Ezpeleta ex­plains. “We don’t want the bikes to be recharged by mains power or by gen­er­a­tors. We want to cre­ate the power at the cir­cuits, with so­lar pan­els, or reach an agree­ment with a com­pany that can trans­port so­lar pan­els to each cir­cuit.”

The Mo­togp boss wants 18 ma­chines on the grid, pos­si­bly a com­bi­na­tion of cur­rent Mo­togp and Moto2 rid­ers, although it’s dif­fi­cult to see the teams risk­ing prized rid­ers in a sup­port race.

This isn’t mo­tor­cy­cling’s first at­tempt at es­tab­lish­ing a ‘green’ cham­pi­onship. In 2013 the FIM and TTXGP or­gan­ised a nine-round e-road Racing World Cup at venues in Europe, the USA and Asia, but af­ter only six rounds plans to con­tinue it in 2014 were dropped.

Dorna won’t re­veal which com­pa­nies it is talk­ing to, but the list al­most cer­tainly in­cludes Mu­gen, win­ners of the last three Isle of Man TT Zero races.

Bruce An­stey won last year’s TT Zero at 118.4mph, a huge in­crease against the 87.4mph achieved dur­ing the in­au­gu­ral elec­tric TT in 2009. The 2017 Mu­gen Shin­den uses the com­pany’s lat­est oil­cooled, three-phase, brush­less mo­tor that pro­duces 120kw, or 160bhp.

Colin Whit­ta­more of Mu­gen Europe be­lieves elec­tric mo­tor and bat­tery per­for­mance are im­prov­ing at such a rate that a 125mph TT lap will pos­si­ble in two years. That’s an as­ton­ish­ing 44% in­crease in per­for­mance since 2009.

Iron­i­cally, con­sid­er­ing Dorna’s wish to run a one-make elec­tric Mo­togp se­ries, Mu­gen be­lieves that elec­tric ve­hi­cle (EV) racing needs more com­pe­ti­tion to move de­vel­op­ment forward.

“There needs to be a stronger depth of field to push it on,” adds Whit­ta­more. “Mu­gen is rel­a­tively small, with fewer than 250 em­ploy­ees, and the Shin­den pro­gramme is in­ter­nally funded. So while we can do a good job with what’s avail­able to us, what is re­ally needed to fuel de­vel­op­ment is at least a cou­ple of man­u­fac­tur­ers who can com­mit the level of fi­nance and re­sources nec­es­sary to take EV bikes to the next level.

“The best ex­am­ple would be to look at For­mula One cars. When F1 first in­tro­duced hy­brids into the power train a few years ago it was a sim­ple push-to-pass but­ton that lasted only a mat­ter of sec­onds, which could have been classed as non-es­sen­tial. But these days the EV el­e­ment in F1 is cru­cial to per­for­mance – you would not win a race with­out it. That’s all down to com­pet­i­tive de­vel­op­ment driv­ing the tech­nol­ogy.

Mu­gen’s Whit­ta­more is wait­ing for the great leap forward in bat­tery tech Mu­gen’s lessons have been learnt through the Shin­den project

Dorna boss Ezpeleta says one-make racing could start at the end of 2018

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