Laguna Seca TTXGP Preview 2011

July 18, 2011
Steve Atlas
Steve Atlas
Contributing Editor |Articles |Articles RSS

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.

Contributing Editor Steve Atlas is racing the Brammo entry in the TTXGP class.
Brammo’s Steve Atlas currently leads the 2011 TTXGP Championship after sweeping both races at Infineon.

If you are heading to Laguna Seca this coming weekend for the 10th round of the MotoGP world championship and are interested in seeing what the future of road racing could potentially look like, if checking out the top EV (Electric Vehicle) racing teams in the world going head-to-head is something that sounds intriguing, than you are going to want to set yourself a reminder for the following times: Friday 1:30 p.m., Saturday 4:45 p.m. and Sunday 11:25 a.m. — these are the times when the TTXGP boys take to the 2.24-mile track. The reason I say you should set a reminder or alarm of some kind is that if you don’t, well, there’s a good chance you’ll miss it. I know I did; I had wanted to check out the on-track action there last year but didn’t catch a single lap. Why? Because the bikes are near-as-makes-no-difference silent, making the ambient crowd noise far more than enough to completely drown them out. Hence, if you aren’t paying attention, you’re going to miss them!

But while they may not make the kind of noise typically associate with hot racing action, the competition on track has the potential to be as highly charged as electric road racing has ever seen…

The Contenders

Last year’s Laguna Seca winner Michael Czysz and his updated-for-2011 MotoCzysz E1pc are slated to come defend their 2010 victory — whether as a team owner or racer (or both) is unknown. The bike is fresh off its second-straight Isle of Man TT victory, a race in which it just missed the elusive 100 mph lap average that event organizers had put a $10,000 bounty on. Czysz had two bikes on the grid over on the Isle, which finished 1-2, but if he will field both at Laguna Seca is yet to be announced.

Mark Miller on the MotoCzysz TT Zero machine.
The MotoCzysz machine is a favorite to win at Laguna Seca after taking the victory in 2010.

The second-place team from 2010 was Lightning Motors, with long-time professional racer Michael Barnes at the helm. They are also said to be coming back this year with a totally-new bike, though they were slated to race the opening round at Infineon with this bike but didn’t get it completed in time. The bike then broke down during the recent Isle of Man TT final, so a rather large question mark hovers over their entry. Another American contender will be San Francisco-based Mission Motors and its Mission R, the very-trick-looking machine to be piloted by journeyman AMA racer, Steve Rapp. The Mission R has already lapped under last year’s lap record in testing, and is one of the pre-event favorites.

The run-away double winner and lap-record setter from the opening TTXGP round at Infineon Raceway, Brammo and its Empluse RR (which just so happens to be ridden by yours truly), will also be in Monterey, ready to prove its Round 1 victories were no fluke. Brammo also lapped under the 2010 lap record in testing around the dry lake bed, running very close times to those set by the Mission Motors team despite being well down on power (see Part 2 of the Brammo Racing feature for full details). Second place in both races at Infineon was Thad Wolff and he is slated to be competing at Laguna Seca as well.

While an official entry list was not available prior to the event, rumblings have the total number of entries over 10, making it potentially the biggest turn out in TTXGP and FIM e-power Series history (the exception being the inaugural 2009 Isle of Man TT). It was announced recently that one of the top European teams, CRP Racing, will be fielding two riders at Laguna Seca as well, one being American female club racer Shelina Moreda. The second bike will be piloted by CRP’s regular rider, Alessandro Brannetti, a former Moto2 rider, who piloted the CRP machine to second in the 2010 TTXGP European Championship.

2011 TTXGP podium.
As a result of the cancellation of AMA Racing at VIR, the TTXGP series may have its last round of the season at Laguna Seca, though official word has yet to be released.

The Championship(s)

The second round of the North American TTXGP Series is also a combined round with the FIM e-power Series, making it a milestone in the early history of EV racing. Until now, the two championships have been trying to wrangle power from each other in an effort to establish themselves as the world’s leading electric bike championship. Though, to be fair, it was all started by the TTXGP people. Having seen the initial success at the inaugural event at the Isle of Man in 2009, the FIM then stepped in and started its own series, essentially attempting to muscle TTXGP out of the picture. But at such an infantile stage in its development with so few teams worldwide, the possibility of sustaining two premiere series’ would be next to impossible. This is why the two overcoming their differences to join forces at Laguna Seca marks such an important milestone and bodes well for the future of the sport in general.

In terms of championship points ramifications, there is a very good possibility that Laguna Seca could also mark the final round of the TTXGP North American Series. This comes following the recent announcement that VIR will not be part of the 2011 AMA championship, cancelled due to a spat between the track and series organizer DMG, as it was to be the third and final TTXGP event. Pending an announcement from TTXGP organizers regarding a replacement round, as of now Laguna Seca will be the final round of the championship, meaning both a race winner and series champion will both be crowned this coming weekend.

Because the majority of the big teams failed to show at Infineon, the opening round featuring two points-paying races, as it stands the championship will be between Wolff and I at Laguna, and we (Brammo) hold a 10-point lead heading into the event. Stay tuned for future developments on this subject, as we hear TTXGP is looking at potential options for a rescheduled final round, though chances are said to be slim this late in the game, making for yet another possible victim of this ridiculous disagreement between DMG and VIR.

The Schedule

 Laguna Seca offers fans some amazing vantage points. This is a view from the Corkscrew.
Part of the challenege for the TTXGP riders at Laguna Seca will be the schedule as there’s only an hour of practice before Sunday’s nine-lap race.

Also, due to the hectic nature of the event, where the AMA series is already combined with the MotoGP championship and fighting for all the track time they possibly can, the EV boys are left to pick up the leftovers. This means those teams and riders with previous track knowledge will have a major advantage, as the electric machines get a whopping one hour of total practice prior to the 9-lap race. That’s all. This boils down to: one 30-minute practice session at 1:30 pm Friday afternoon; a single 30-minute qualifying session at 4:45 p.m. Saturday evening; and the 9-lap race Sunday morning at 11:30 a.m. This is not a lot of time to get acquainted and up to speed for anyone, though it will be especially difficult for those who have never been to Laguna Seca.

2011 TTXGP Round 2 Schedule @ Laguna Seca (MotoGP weekend):
– Friday, July 22 (Free Practice): 1:30pm – 2:00pm
– Saturday, July 23 (Qualifying): 4:45pm – 5:15pm
– Sunday, July 24 (RACE): 11:25am – 11:50am*
*Race to be broadcast live on Speed2

Laguna Seca Track Info:
– Length: 3.610 m. / 2.243 miles
– Width: 15m
– Left corners: 7
– Right corners: 4
– Longest straight: 453 m. / 0,281 miles
– Constructed: 1957
– Modified: 1996

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