Record Number of Entrants (Sort of) for 2012 Isle of Man TT Zero

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Mark Miller, seen here aboard the MotoCzysz electric race bike, won the 2010 TT Zero. Team Segway Racing MotoCzysz will again return to the TT Zero with past TT Zero winners Mark Miller and Michael Rutter as its riders in the 2012 race.

The Isle of Man TT press office today announced a total of 18 entrants in the 2012 SES TT Zero electric motorcycle race — a record number of riders according to the IoM TT website.

Eighteen is a record number of entries, at least for TT Zero it’s a record, but more have entered in a previous race as you’ll read below.

Some of the racers slated for the 2012 SES-sponsered TT Zero include past TT Zero winners Mark Miller (2010) and winner Michael Rutter (2011). Both riders will again compete on the Portland, Oregon-based Team Segway Racing MotoCzysz. Rutter will carry race plate 1 and Miller plate number 2 in the 2012 event.

An equally notable participant this year is John McGuinness.

A 17-time champ in the traditional Isle of Man TT, McGuinness will ride for Team Mugen aboard the Mugen Shindin electric motorcycle. As Dennis Chung reported on McGuinness’ testing of the Mugen bike in March, the belief is that Mugen is receiving some support from Honda. Though not an official Honda company, Mugen was founded by the son of Soichiro Honda and specializes in tuning Honda vehicles.

According to the IoM’s release, the first team with a Kawasaki-based motorcycle will participate this year. James Hillier will pilot the Kawasaki-Zytek ZX10ev for Bournemouth Kawasaki/Zytek Automotive. Additionally, Team Agni, winner of the 2009 TTXGP, is returning to the SES TT Zero following an absence in the 2011 event. The team has registered three machines, led by fastest female rider on the Mountain Course, Jenny Tinmouth.

John McGuinness will compete in the 2012 TT Zero aboard an electric race bike designed by Team Mugen from Japan.

Team Tork/Haiyin Racing from India will have Spanish rider Antonio Maeso representing their effort, while other international efforts include Komatti Mirai Racing from Japan with rider Yoshinari Matsushita at the helm, and Italy’s Team Vercarmoto, the ninth country to enter the 2012 race.

E-bike racing, Year One: the most entrants to date

While an anticipated 18 racers for the 2012 TT Zero are more than double the racers that competed in the 2010 TT Zero, this figure isn’t the highest number of participants in the short, four-year history of electric motorcycle racing on the Isle of Man.

The 2009 inaugural event, titled the TTXGP, had a provisional entrant list consisting of 23 racers. That number was eventually whittled down to 20 entrants from 19 different teams. A total of nine racers across two classes (Open and PRO) finished the one-lap (37.7 miles) 2009 TTXGP.

Organizer TTXGP and the IoM TT split ties in 2010. In that same year the IoM TT established its own zero-emissions motorcycle race, called the TT Zero, thus the claim by the IoM TT that 18 entries is an all-time high for the TT Zero.

The 2010 TT Zero race saw eight riders make the grid on race day — a fraction of the entrants in 2009. Last year’s TT Zero saw nine bikes start, with five crossing the finish line.

Getting better?

With participation by IoM TT veteran McGuinness, and the return of Miller and Rutter for Team Segway Racing MotoCzysz, this year’s event looks promising in terms of excitement with the high probability that an e-bike will achieve the coveted 100-mph average speed for a lap. In 2010 Miller averaged 96.820 mph, while last year Rutter narrowly missed the “ton” mark, with an average speed of 99.604 mph.

As intriguing as the 100-mph average lap is fan interest in electric motorcycle racing during the Isle of Man TT.

Reports on the 2010 event said fan interest was abysmal, with a seemingly modest increase in fan interest last year. Perhaps it was the sheer novelty of the first electric motorcycle race held on the IoM event, but anecdotal evidence reveals the TT Zero has yet to generate the interest level seen in the 2009 TTXGP.

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