2016 may be forever known in TT Zero circles as the year of the great disappointment. For the first time since electric motorcycles began competing in a one-lap race back in 2009, a record time was not achieved.
Another minor disappointment was the fact that the new Victory RR, ridden by William Dunlop, did not win. Perhaps we are showing a bias in favor of the American team, but we had hopes the team would surprise with a record-breaking, Mugen-beating performance. On a positive note, the team did quite well for itself, moving up a step from last year's third-place result and finishing 25 seconds behind Anstey while averaging 115.844 mph.
Perhaps the happiest TT Zero team was from the University of Nottingham. Rider Daley Mathison, though just missing the ton with an average speed of 99.884 mph, nabbed the third place, making it the first podium finish for a school team. Congratulations! From here, the team will campaign their ride in the MotoE European road racing series. Now, back to the disappointment.
Having won the two years previous John McGuinness was the favorite to take it all. Instead of the top step, however, the Morecambe Missile had to settle for fourth place after his bike suffered a glitch just before the Sulby straight. In a tweet replete with a crying face emoji and hashtagged "sick", he said "Sorry to @Jack5onRacing and @MUGENSHINDENTT for today, and to all my loyal personal sponsors. I did my best, it just wasn't meant be". Despite his misfortune, though, he was not the saddest person on the Isle of Man yesterday. That distinction probably belongs to the guys at Saroléa.
The rebirthed Belgian brand brought a stunningly beautiful brace of new bikes to race and recruited a pair of young, fast guys – Lee Johnston and Dean Harrison – but in the end they didn't turn a wheel on the official course. Either bike. Not even in practice. Instead, the team spent their time in the paddock chasing down some sort of bug in their setup(s).
It's a shame, too. Word is, they were ready to challenge for the overall win, break the 120 mph-lap mark, and really push their whole effort forward. Hopes were high, and despite not getting in any practice laps, they did post a picture of Johnston riding the latest SP7 on what we believe was the nearby Jurby Airfield. And then, nothing. Nothing but an upbeat-sounding Facebook entry vowing to return next year. We can only hope they follow the University of Nottingham folks to the MotoE series later this summer and show us what the bikes are capable of.
Despite all the things that didn't happen this year, we have to say we are, overall, happy with the event. Everyone in the TT Zero competed safely. Winner Bruce Anstey had crashed a bike at speed earlier in the week with only a loss to his pride and his famous, once-bushy beard. With two racing deaths already recorded during this year's contests, that in itself is a victory. We also note that all the bikes carried the MotoCzysz logo to honor recently deceased Michael Czysz.
The stage is now set, to some extent, at least, for next year. Everybody has something to prove. Victory will seek victory; Saroléa will seek redemption; John McGuinness will seek another TT win to place him closer in overall victories to the 26 of Joey Dunlop. To get a little more insight into the racing action, check out the post-race press conference in the video below.