Results of the first-ever green GP

TTXGP Final Results

The world's first zero-emissions road race, the TTXGP, started with a whirr at this year's Isle of Man TT. "That sounds like a VCR rewinding," another journalist next to me stated, as the first electric superbike spirited away from the Glencrutchery Road start line and set out on first historic lap of the Isle's legendary, 37.7-mile mountain course.
Fifteen machines entered this inaugural event and nine completed a full lap—an admittedly daunting challenge, given the current state of eBike technology. The race was decided 26 minutes later when Best Buy pro class competitor Rob Barber crossed the finish line on the Anglo-Indian collaboration AGNI X01, designed by electric motorcycle guru Cedric Lynch. Barber's average speed was more than 87.434 mph, with a maximum recorded top speed of 97.8 mph through the speed trap at the end of Sulby Straight.

[Finishing second in the Pro Class was Germany’s Team XXL Racing, piloted by rider Thomas Schoenfelder, with an average speed of 77.841 mph. Third place, and the highest-placing American machine, was the Brammo entry piloted by UK rider Mark Buckley, with an average speed of 75.350 mph. Another closely watched American effort, the Mission Motors machine ridden by American TT racer Tom Montano, finished just 31 seconds behind the Brammo bike with an average speed of 74.091 mph. The MotoCzysz entry, easily the most technically (and aesthetically) advanced machine in the event, suffered an unfortunate motor meltdown and failed to complete the lap.

[The next bike to finish after Montano was the winning Open-class machine (constructed from off-the-shelf components, compared to the Pro class prototype technology), the UK-based Electric Motorsport effort of Chris Heath, with an average speed of 66.022 mph. Second place in the Open class went to US-based Barefoot Motors, with a speed of 62.219 mph, followed by underdog Team TORK, a group of Indian college students who skipped final exams to attend this event, with an average speed of 60.475 mph. Tragically, TORK rider John Crellin, an Isle of Man local, was killed later that day in the Senior TT event.

[The top two Pro-class entrants, both the AGNI and XXL teams, relied on an existing streetbike chassis (a late-model GSX-R600 for AGNI, and a late nineties Laverda Formula for XXL), compared to the Mission and MotoCzysz machines that were purpose-built from the ground-up. The third-place Brammo machines were highly modified versions of that company’s existing Inertia production bikes. Given the speeds that these machines were navigating the course at, however, chassis technology was not a limiting factor, nor was rider skill. The limiting factor at this point appears to be available battery and electric engine technology. The MotoCzysz, which reportedly produces 150 lbs.-ft. of torque, simply melted its (three) motors. Others teams that chose a lower-power, lighter-weight strategy to get them over the mountain suffered different problems, running out of juice crossing Snaefell Mountain. The lighter-weight, moderately powerful Brammo split the difference, with mixed results. One of Brammo’s two bikes suffered motor failure 11 miles in at Cronk-y-Voddy. The other machine finished in the last spot on the podium but just barely, eating its motor in the process too.

Even in light of such mixed results, this inaugural event can only be called a success. So the average speeds were less-than-impressive, especially in comparison to John McGuinness’s record-breaking, 131.578 mph lap. And so what if TTXGP organizers loudly (and uncharitably, I think) boasted that Barber’s ride eclipsed the TT’s 38-year-old 50cc internal combustion record? Electric Superbike technology is in diaper stage, and the historic Isle of Man mountain course, long and full of technical turns and daunting climbs, is an exceptionally challenging backdrop against which to debut this technology. That so many bikes showed up to take the challenge, and more than half finished in good if not great form, gives us hope for the future of emergent green Superbike technology. After all, the winning average speed at the very first Isle of Man TT in 1907 was just 38.21 mph, and look how far internal combustion engine technology has come in the 102 years since then.