By John Cardinale
SONOMA, CA, MAY 1, 2012
Infineon Raceway set the standard in 2010, hosting the first-ever zero-carbon motorcycle race on American soil, and the TTXGP North American Championship returns for the third consecutive year at the Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam, May 4-6.
Winners will be crowned in the overall TTXGP class, as well as the brand-new production specification category, TTXGP eSuperstock. In addition, there will also be a prize for the fastest bike with a limited store of energy (7.5KwH).
The electric motorcycle series dovetails with the raceway’s continuing Accelerating Sustainable Performance Program, which works to prove that you don’t have to sacrifice performance in the name of sustainability.
To give you some insight as to what you can expect this season, we caught up with 2011 Sonoma winners from Team Icon Brammo, rider Steve Atlas and Brammo product developer Brian Wiseman:
Congratulations on winning at Infineon Raceway last season and going on to take home the 2011 TTXGP North America crown. How confident are you heading into this season?
Steve Atlas: I’m far more confident than last year, that’s for sure. Last year I had only ridden an electric motorcycle twice before the opening round, so it was an all-new world to me. But after the success we had last year and the improvements the team has made to the bike in the off season, I’m feeling good about defending our title and am excited to get things going!
What’s the main difference fans will notice this year from Brammo in terms of the technology?
Brian Wiseman: For 2012, Brammo has focused on upgrading the powertrain of the bike to a new, more powerful Parker-Hannifin motor, along with a physically smaller and lighter motor controller/ inverter. The chassis and battery technology remain largely unchanged from last season, as we were quite happy with their performance and credit the bike’s handling and durability with helping us bring home our first championship in 2011.
What is the most common question you get asked by people regarding racing electric?
Steve Atlas: Ninety-nine percent of people ask if it’s like riding a traditional internal-combustion engine motorcycle and if it’s strange to ride a bike that doesn’t make any noise. I tell them that beyond the basics of being a sporting motorcycle with two wheels, it’s actually quite a bit different. The biggest thing is the total lack of any engine braking and not having a clutch or doing any shifting.
You announced last year the fact you were going into partnership with TTXGP to produce a race-ready bike for future teams – the Empulse TTX. How have these plans progressed, and when can future racers take possession of one?
Brian Wiseman: The Empulse TTX will be based on our production Empulse and Empulse R platform, which will be launched to the public on May 8. The bike has been developed with the goal of having a solid platform upon which a privateer or professional race team can cost-effectively build a contender for the TTXGP series. We will begin testing this summer, and it seems likely that an interested racer could take possession in early 2013.
Brammo is a leader in the electric-vehicle industry and has a team that has raced with TTXGP since 2009. How do you see these technologies developing, and what on-track improvements can we expect in the next five to 10 years?
Brian Wiseman: Even having been involved from the initial “drop of the flag,” we have been very impressed with the pace of development in the electric-motorcycle space on all sides of technology. For the near future, I think we can expect to see the power levels continuing to climb to the near-200hp level and the bike weights continue to drop well into the sub-450-pound range. Of course, this level of motor performance will be useless without the battery power and endurance needed to make use of it, so we can expect improvements to specific power and capacity as well. At the moment, the bikes are circulating around the tracks on pace with a well-sorted SuperSport-class race bike, but I think it will not be long before they are competitive with the professional SuperBikes.
Finally, what’s great about racing at Infineon?
Steve Atlas: Infineon Raceway is an awesome track – one of my personal favorites. The elevation and diversity of corners makes for one of the most fun – as well as the most physically and mentally demanding – tracks in the U.S. The blind corners and technical layout make it a track that takes quite a while to learn and rewards smart riding over flat-out aggression.
The Infineon Raceway season opener will be a first look at the improvements made across the board, and race fans should be in for some wheel-to-wheel racing. More team details can be found on egrandprix.com, on Twitter #TTXGP or on Facebook.com/TTXGPofficial.
For more information on the Great Clips West Coast Moto Jam or for tickets, visit infineonraceway.com/ama or call 800/870-RACE (7223).