Laguna Seca has effectively been the premier electric motorcycle grand prix since TTXGP started the North America races in 2010. The entrant list for 2013 is both larger and smaller than it has been in past years.
In 2011, the grid was composed entirely of prototype bikes. This race is the only time Brammo, Lightning, and MotoCzysz have all gridded up for the same race. Mission set records in qualifying and in the race that still stand: unusual in the electric motorcycle racing scene, where records are regularly shattered each year. Grid total was 10 entries.
In 2012 Brammo and Lightning each brought two more powerful prototype bikes and fought hard for the checkered flag. Munch and two TTX75 entrants rounded out the prototypes; three production Zero bikes (factory-sponsored, campaigned by Zero’s Kenyon Kluge) brought the total grid to nine bikes.
For 2013 Brammo has further developed their prototype bikes, and is also bring a production-based TTX racebike. Per the practice list, though, it appears the other prototype teams are giving the race a pass? MotoCzysz is focusing their energies at home and Lightning is a no-show. I’m also a tiny bit surprised Mission isn’t racing in the production category, given their recent production announcements.
This is also the first year that we’re seeing significant numbers of privateers on production-based bikes. Arthur Kowitz is riding a faired Brammo Empulse TTX; Ted Rich, Jeremiah Johnson and Brandon Miller are riding production 2013 Zeros. Kenyon Kluge, Zero’s director of Electrical Engineering, returns on a production 2013 Zero S. Despite the factory connection, Zero’s involvement is reportedly limited to providing the stock bike and perhaps other incidental support.
Total grid size for 2013 is eight bikes, based upon the current entry list.
- Grid sizes have decreased each year. This may represent a de-emphasis on Laguna Seca or electric grand prix competition, which is transitioning from split FIM and TTXGP to combined TTXGP/FIM leadership. It may also just be a fluke (har) – Lightning and MotoCzysz are actively racing this year, just not at Laguna Seca.
However, when you consider only the North American efforts – Munch and eCRP are not racing this year – then grid sizes have actually increased year over year. 6 NA entries in 2011, 7 NA entries in 2012, 8 NA entries in 2013.
- Prototype racing now is dominated by high-budget entries. I don’t believe it’s possible to develop a top-tier competitive prototype bike now unless your race budget is in the high six figure ballpark, even excluding labor. Accordingly, many of the lower budget prototype efforts have disappeared in recent years. However, both Lightning and Mission are pitching production bikes that could bring some privateer competition to this top tier.
- As lower budget prototype and European entries have fallen away, production-based racebikes are starting to fill in the grid: 3 factory-backed entries in 2012, 2 factory-based entries and 4 privateer entries in 2013. I expect we’ll see production-based bikes turning in laptimes that rival the lower-end prototypes in 2011 and 2012, and show significant gains over the largely stock production bikes from 2012.
- Is Shane Turpin in, NA Champion 2011/2012 Steve Atlas out at Brammo? Steve raced with Brammo against gas bikes at AFM round 2, but was not present at Brammo’s most recent AFM race and now appears to be missing from the (arguably) premier electric GP race of 2013.