Daytona International Speedway played host to the TTXGP World Final, where TTXGP competitors from its three regions — Australia, Europe and North America — would battle it out for top honors. This marked the first time in the famed speedway’s history it has ever hosted an electric motorcycle race of any kind, making the event a truly historic moment. The grandeur of the event wasn’t lost on 2010/2011 TTXGP World Final Champion Matthias Himmelman and Australian champion Jason Morris, as they dug deep to raise the funds necessary to make the trip to Daytona to race against two-time, and defending North American champ, Steve Atlas aboard the Team Icon Brammo Empulse entry.
In qualifying, Himmelman could only manage a best of 2:04.897 around the Daytona high banks. Atlas encountered problems with his machine, constantly needing to reset the bike, but still managed to pull off a 1:59.397, good enough for second on the grid. Meanwhile, Atlas’ teammate on the Team Icon Brammo entry, AMA legend Eric Bostrom, stormed to pole position with a 1:58.648 lap time, reaching speeds up to 170 mph in the process.
But while his qualifying performance was flawless, the team was worried Atlas’ system failures would affect Bostrom as well. Australian champ Jason Morris (2:33.732) qualified fourth for Team Catavolt, while Jeremiah Johnson (2:50.624), aboard a heavily modified Zero S model rounded out the top five entries.
Unfortunately, the Lightning entries of Michael Barnes and Miguel Duhamel failed to even turn a lap, as the bikes had just returned from France, where Duhamel had won a FIM e-Power race, a few days prior. Without enough time to properly prepare the machines, team owner Richard Hatfield had no choice but to withdraw his entries from Daytona.
Michael Czysz and his Motoczysz E1PC motorcycles didn’t enter this event for a variety of reasons, cost being a major concern. I spoke to him earlier this year, and though he was disappointed he and his team wouldn’t be making the race, he felt very confident his machines could “destroy the field.”
During the race, Atlas got the jump on teammate Bostrom and the two started to pull away from the field. Unfortunately for the youngest Bostrom brother, his bike suddenly lost power. While he struggled to get his machine running again, Himmelman leaped at the opportunity for second place. Bostrom eventually regained power to his machine, only losing one position, and fought to make up ground to Himmelman.
Atlas would cruise to an easy victory at the end of the five-lap race, setting the fastest lap of the weekend at 1:58.010, with Himmelman second and Bostrom claiming the last spot on the podium. For reference, Jason DiSalvo’s quickest lap of the Daytona 200, a 1:49.607, topped the field. Atlas’ time would have qualified him 44th out of 46 riders. In the Supersport class, Jake Lewis set the quickest race lap at 1:51.392. Atlas’ 1:58.010 would have been fast enough for 30th on the grid, out of 50.
Johnson came home fourth, while Morris encountered issues with his machine, forcing him to pull in after the second lap. A silver lining for the team is winning the TTX75 award and earning recognition from the IET technical panel for Technical creativity; The IET Panel picked two teams from across the globe for addional recognition.
Professor Pat Wheeler on presenting the prizes said “The IET is proud to be a partner of the TTXGP World Race Series. This visionary sporting event brings together the passion for motorbike racing with the application of zero carbon technologies. Since its inception in 2009 the IET through its members and volunteers have been hands-on supporters and see TTXGP as a way to disseminate and share knowledge and expertise in science, engineering and technology to a global audience.
Catavolt were the team who had pushed the boundaries most and are a deserving recipient of the IET Automotive & Road Transport Network Award for Technical Creativity. We would also like to congratulate Team Icon Brammo on a great season, their hard work, developments and constant professionalism has inspired many and I am really pleased to present them with the IET Transport Sector Award for Technical Excellence”
Here, words from the top three finishers:
Eric Bostrom, third place, ”The weekend has been part of the learning process for me and the team. The team have made lots of progress in a very short time, so problems are to be expected. It has been an important day for the team and it is good that the team had two bikes out there.”
“The power failure was a different sort of failure to the problems we have had for the rest of the weekend. The bike just lost power for a lap or so and then the power came back. It was the strangest thing, in the later laps everything felt very good and the bike was up to speed again. This weekend the bike has been the fastest it has ever been, but we have had teething problems. You can’t win them all! It has been a big achievement for all the electric bikes to get round this circuit, it is the most demanding circuit there is.”
Matthias Himmelman, second place, “I enjoyed the race, but I was asleep at the start. I was the last bike to leave the grid. I was looking for the red lights at the start line as we have at tracks in Europe, but I couldn’t see them. The next thing I knew all the other bikes had left the grid and the race had started without me.”
“After the infield section I saw that the Brammos were racing each other at full speed and I was looking to secure third place. I was looking after the bike and taking it gently. Then I saw Eric slow and said thank you for the present as I passed him. I thought that Eric’s race was over so I continued to take it gently on the banking for the next two laps before going faster towards the end. I didn’t know that Eric had got going again or that he was catching me. Finishing second in the World Championship is good. Second place shows potential to win the following year.”
“Racing at Daytona is a great feeling. Before I came here I did not think it was a driver’s circuit, but it is. You have too know the banking and how to come off it at the right point. On an electric bike you have restricted practice so you have to learn the track in only four or five laps. It has been a special thing in my life to come here to Daytona and race here with an electric bike.”
Steve Atlas, first place, “[The race] felt good and it is cool to be world champion as well as first to win an electric race here at Daytona. I feel that my name is now up there with Miguel Duhamel or Scott Russell! The race was very uneventful. I jumped Eric at the start and didn’t look back until the second or third lap. I was then nervous as Eric was not on my shoulder and the race was obviously mine to lose. I hadn’t realised that there was no one just behind me as I was focussed on the track ahead.”
“Brammo team have worked hard to get us here this weekend, so this victory is very well deserved for the whole team. There were no gremlins at all in the race, the bike performed perfectly for the first time in the weekend, just at the right time – perfect”
The TTXGP World Final concludes the 2012 season. Keep it here for the latest in TTXGP news in 2013.
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