TTXGP Infineon Preview 2011

May 10, 2011
Steve Atlas
Steve Atlas
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Professional-grade speed and an attitude to match, Steve Atlas is the new blood at MotoUSA. Atlas has AMA racing creds that are even more extensive than his driving record.

Before actually racing we needed to go testing  and this is where the adventure begins - Thunderhill Raceway Park on April 20th.
MotoUSA will be competing in the 2011 TTXGP season opener at Infineon Raceway aboard a factory Brammo entry.

This coming weekend marks the opening round of the North American 2011 TTXGP Series at Infineon Raceway in Northern California, with A123 Systems stepping up as the new title sponsor. The five-round series also visits tracks like Virginia International Raceway and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, just to name a few. And putting the icing on the cake, the top teams will be invited to a world final, facing off with squads from the TTXGP Europe and TTXGP Australian Series, with the aim of being the World TTXGP Champion for 2011. The location for the finale is yet to be determined, but expect something in Europe, probably Spain if last year is any inclination. In 2010 it was held at Albacete, with the Munch Racing team coming out on top.

Back to the first round on our shores… The GP will be run in conjunction with Round 2 of the AMA Series at Infineon this weekend, May 13-15, featuring a variety of teams, some who raced last year and others new to the fray. Adding to the excitement for MotoUSA is that yours truly will be piloting the factory Brammo entry, a bike based on their upcoming Empulse street model, though modified extensively for race use and designated the Empluse RR. This race has been a long time in the making for the Brammo boys, as they were going to line up at Laguna Seca last year but a technical gremlin prevented that from happening, so redemption is high on their priority list. We’ve already tested the machine twice in our Electric Superbike Racing: Brammo Part I and Part II test, so we already have a good baseline setting and have hopefully overcome last year’s issues.

Tom Montano  Mission Motors  - Isle of Man TTXGP  Practice
After competing in the 2009 Isle of Man TTXGP, Tom Montano will return aboard Mission Motors.

Some of the returning teams and riders this year include Lightning Motors, with riders Michael Barnes and Michael Hannas. The pair finished second and third, respectively, last year, and will be looking to move a step up on the podium. But they won’t be without competition. Mission Motors, a San Francisco-based company, has employed the services of Steve Rapp, who will also ride in the Superbike class aboard a Lee’s Cycle BMW and the XR1200 race (that will be a major case of shell shock going back and fourth…). The Mission bike features some lofty claims of big horsepower and impressive parts like Ohlins gas-charged suspension, among other things, but is still unproven in short-circuit racing.

Mission competed in the Isle of Man with Tom Montano two years back, but lacked the longevity to be competitive. But with two years of development work under their belts it goes without saying that they have made some massive changes. Though they were unable to test with Rapp at all and rumor is the team is in a mad dash to get the bike finished in time for the race, so this could cause some issues. Trust me when I say these electric bikes are nothing like riding an internal combustion machine, so it’s going to take Rapp some time to get acquainted. Not to mention jumping between it and a 200-plus horsepower BMW, plus a rather slow and ill-handling Harley, will not be conducive to getting the most from any of the bikes. But if anyone can do it, it’s Rapp. The journeyman racer has ridden everything from Vance and Hines Ducatis to factory Yoshimura Suzukis to, more recently, Jordan Suzukis and said Harley-Davidsons. That’s quite the array of bikes, to say the least. Rapp will officially be the hardest working guy in AMA Pro Racing. But how will jumping around effect the results in all three of the classes for the local Northern California native? Only time will tell.

The TTXGP schedule consists of one practice session Friday evening, followed by another Saturday morning. Qualifying takes place that evening and sets the grid for the World Superbike-style two-race format Sunday. Each race will be nine laps, one run circa 11:00 a.m. and the other around 4:00 p.m., spaced apart to give the teams time to recharge their machines.

Steve Rapp just missed the podium during his debut XR1200 race after placing fourth at Daytona behind Joe Kopp.
In addition to competing in the XR1200 and AMA Pro Road Racing series, Steve Rapp wil also try his hand in the 2011 TTXGP Championship with support from Mission Motors. 

Also new this year is what they are calling the TTXGP75 class. This is for bikes with smaller batteries, as the primary class restriction is that the battery unit can have no more than 7.5 kilowatt hours of capacity – hence the ’75’ in the name. It will be run at the same time as the main class, which has no limit to kilowatt hours, using all the same sessions for practice, qualifying, and the race. To separate the two there will be a two-wave start, the main class going first and the ’75’ bikes starting shortly thereafter. This does pose somewhat of an issue, as the leaders in the premiere class will likely be lapping the ’75’ bikes rather quickly, but that’s all a part of racing and should only make things more interesting for the fans. TTXGP hasn’t posted an entry list for the new class as of yet, so it’s unsure who all will show and how many entrants there will be.

This adds yet another level of excitement to the already jam-packed Infineon Moto Jam, so be sure to check out all the action if you are in the area. General admission for a single day starts at $17.75 and if you want to go all-out and hang the entire weekend, they have a special package that includes entry everyday as well as a pre-race grid pass – all for $60. It’s available at right now.

So don’t hesitate and come out for all the racing — who knows, with gas prices rising and harmful exhaust fumes continually speeding up global warming this may just be the future of motorcycle racing. And be sure to keep your eyes on for a firsthand account of racing in this event in Part 3 of our ongoing series; if you missed Part 1 and Part 2 of the story be sure to check them out. Racing these cutting-edge bikes is no easy task. And if you can’t make it out, tune into, the TV company’s internet broadcasting network, as they will be televising the event online, though dates have yet to be announced.

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