• Jul 27th 2011 at 2:50PM
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Steve Rapp of Mission Motors conquers all on the Mission R

During a weekend that was everything we thought it would be, Steve Rapp handed Mission Motors a very convincing win at the TTXGP/FIM e-Power International Championship race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The 39.995 seconds that separated him from the 2nd-place finisher at the end of the contest underlined the dominance of the Mission R over the entire weekend, while his best lap of 1:31.376 – set during Saturday's qualifying – crushed the record that he himself had set just a few weeks ago.

This amazing lap time would have placed him in 5th position on the grid for the AMA Superbike Supersport race and was within 10 seconds of the very fastest MotoGP man/machine combo at the Red Bull United States Grand Prix MotoGP. It also sent a strong signal to the racing world that electric motorcycles have arrived and should soon reach parity with the best that the internal combustion world can offer (continue reading...).
Lightning Motors leads MotoCzysz bike through corkscrew at Laguna Seca
Michael Czysz on MotoCzysz E1pc reeling in Michael Barnes of Lightning Motors on last lap

Even though the owner of the first position seemed clear by the end of the first lap, it was a great race. Michael Czysz rode the 2011 version of his own MotoCzysz E1pc to a second place finish when he, as he did last year, slowly reeled in, then passed Michael Barnes on the Lightning Motors entry on the final bit of tarmac before the checkered flag. Despite having to settle for the low step on the podium, Barnes distinguished himself with the fastest maximum speed of all the electrics, hitting 134.96 miles per hour (217.2 km/h) along the front straight.

Brammo leads CRP Racing and Munch Racing in the corkscrew at Laguna Seca
Steve Atlas on the Brammo Empulse RR, Alessandro Brannetti on the eCRP 1.4 and Matthias Himmelmann of Münch Racing fight for 4th place.

There was a close three-way battle for fourth position the entire race, with Steve Atlas on the Brammo Empulse RR moving from 6th place on the third lap, to 4th on the sixth of eight laps. Meanwhile, the Italian Alessandro Brannetti on the CRP Racing eCRP 1.4 managed to stay ahead of his constant rival Matthias Himmelmann of Münch Racing for 5th place. It is well worth noting that the top six finishers all ran laps faster than the fastest lap time in last year's contest here.

Thad Wolff of Moto Electra celebrates fifth finish on parade lap sticking out arm and leg on corkscrew
Thad Wolff of Moto Electra celebrates 5th place finish

Riding for Moto Electra, Thad Wolff owned 7th position over the entire distance. Excepting the sixth lap, he got progressively faster as the race went on, with his best lap time of 1:48.530 coming on the final loop. Clearly though, he enjoyed himself and made an enthusiastic gesture for the crowd as he passed through the corkscrew on the parade lap after the contest. In return, the gathered masses roared their approval for the rider on Norton-inspired design.

Shelina Moreda exits the corkscrew at Laguna Seca on the eCRP 1.4 by CRP Racing
Shelina Moreda exits the corkscrew on the eCRP 1.4 by CRP Racing

Shelina Moreda, the only girl on the grid, finished 8th. It was the California native's first time riding an electric and her first appearance at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Besides a spirited performance on the track, she also put on an enthusiastic show in the paddock, happily chatting up the many folks who stopped by to check out the pair of CRP Racing machines.

Kenyon Kluge of K Squared Racing passes LGN Racing's Marcelino Manzano on the E-Jarama
Kenyon Kluge on his modified Zero S for K Squared Racing passes LGN Racing's Marcelino Manzano on the E-Jarama during qualifying

The Spanish team LGN Racing finished the race in last position in what was only their second event ever. Clearly, the newcomers will have to pick up the pace somewhat if they want to contend for podium positions in the future. Still, they brought an attractive bike with a unique chassis, learned some lessons and finished the race. No small feat in itself.

The same can not be said of the modified Zero S that Kenyon Kluge (rhymes with blue-jay) rode for K Squared Racing in the TTX75 division. While there's no doubt the team left Laguna smarter than when they arrived, we're also pretty sure they were disappointed to have only raced one lap before being forced to retire. Still, they did get to show off their bike, with its snappy Zero Motorcycles livery, during the free practice and qualifying on what is perhaps the best-loved track in the United States. Just for that fact alone, we're very jealous.

Ely Schless aboard the Proto Moto entry exits the corkscrew at Laguna Seca
Ely Schless rides the Proto Moto Racing entry at Laguna Seca

The one person who benefitted from Kluge's early retirement was Ely Schless. The Proto Moto Racing rider was the only entry in the TTX75 division to cross the finish after Lightning Motorcyles decided not to enter a machine as they had originaly intended and focused 100 per cent of their energy on the "open" class. To his credit, he not only finished the race but did so ahead of the LGN Racing effort.

Overall, the event was an unqualified success. The spectators – there was a record crowd of 150,000 – definitely took notice of the electrics and gave them a much warmer reception than in times past. Sure, there were grumbles that the "e-bikes" were too quiet but others, impressed by the speed of the top machines, seemed to freely accept that the electrics had a place in racing and welcomed the development.

We can only hope that this first co-event will help resolve remaining differences between the TTXGP and FIM organizers. If ever there was a happening that demonstrated what could be accomplished by combining their strengths, this was it. Working in tandem, they attracted a strong grid of polished machines and made a positive contribution to the development of racing. For that, they should be proud and take inspiration as they move forward. Together.

We will have plenty of pics of the action both on the track and in the paddocks to show you soon and we are also hoping race footage will become available. For now though, we can share with you video from a qualifying lap from Steve Rapp on the race-winning Mission R to whet your appetite..

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Sorry to have to correct, but please know that while 1:31.376 is really amazing amazing progress in a very short period of time, it would NOT be 5th on the AMA Superbike grid. Top Superbike qualification time was 1:24.480; for comparison, top MotoGP qualification was 1:21.202. By contrast, top Supersport qualification time was 1:30.392, and Mission's 1:31.376 would have been 5th in this Supersport category. For those unfamiliar, MotoGP is prototype 800cc; Superbike is fairly modified 1000cc, and Supersport is fairly stock 600cc. As an avid fan of motorsports and EVs, I can tell you that the progress made by the electric bikes is absolutely astounding and the quality of the bikes (and the quality of the riders: Rapp, Czysz, Barnes) really impressive. That said, it will be hard to continue the rate of progress that we've seen, and improvements now are likely to be more incremental -- bear in mind, progress for these sorts of things is usually made in tenths of seconds, and Mission improved the mark by over 10 seconds. (Perhaps we will eventually see ultracapacitors on the bikes for greater acceleration and then times will fall more quickly: I suspect this will happen, but not soon). Also, much depends upon the type of track: Laguna Seca is a "technical" track without opportunity for serious high speeds but with an emphasis on the mid-range acceleration, and these factors favor the electric bikes. Yet, we may see another strong improvement if TTXGP and FIM knock off the nonsense and get rid of the weight maximum (seriously?) so that Chip Yates can race as well -- big power, problematic quick-transition handling, good luck to him!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thanks for the correction, much appreciated. Article is now fixed.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Thank you for these details. Question: Lap times of the MotoGP class (you report) were quicker than those of the Subperbike class. Do you have a sense of whether this is more related to the level of development and support of the smaller engine class, or to the lower-speed friendly nature of the track where lighter weight compensates for smaller engines (which we would normally associated with lower power)? The answer, I think, could support your statements about the technical track and the comparative advantage of eBikes.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looking at those times I don't think they really need to ban Chip Yates' bike anymore. He would be a welcome competition. Please let te open class be OPEN! And let real world experience decide which bike setup is best...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I was cheering on all the electric bikes and the Buell 1190RS this weekend. Great innovate on all fronts! This is a second renaissance of racing innovation history.
      Nick From Montreal
      • 4 Years Ago
      Racing really does accelerate product development. Mission and MotoCzysz couldn't even finish the inaugural TTXGP race. Now, they are approaching the performance of MotoGP. Very impressive. I hope Mission takes a cue from Brammo and start selling a bike like this -- the original Mission 1 was a abomination. Same for Zero. These are the bikes people want. As for the noise, I grew up two miles from a suburban NASCAR-style (with cannon men & all) race track and was never looking forward to all that noise on weekends. EV bikes and cars will allow racing near residential areas, which could enable greater acceptance.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Great wrap-up (Rapp up?) Domenick. One of my favorite memories from the weekend will be hanging out with you on the corkscrew and you missing getting a picture of the Mission bike for the first couple of laps because you couldn't hear it coming, and it was gone before you got your camera ready.
        • 4 Years Ago
        We're all making this same mistake because of this quiet bikes. Compare to the thunder of the MotoGP...
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 4 Years Ago
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