One single lap… two corners to warm your tires, then one golden, flying lap to show what you can do. Talk about pressure to perform! Team Icon Brammo headed to the ReFuel Time Trial for the 4th year in a row to try to nab a 3rd consecutive victory in the electric motorcycle categories and continue to propagate the age old debate into a new era of vehicle technology – Which is faster, car or bike?
First – some quick background on the event, which is unique in the world of competitive track events. ReFuel is a time trial – meaning you’re out on the track by yourself, but competing with other participants to throw down the best single lap you can. Two very short practice rounds in the morning are all you get to prepare for the afternoon’s single timed lap. The format makes it very difficult to achieve the absolute best lap as the tires (and rider) never really get an opportunity to get up to full potential. Still – it’s the same for everyone, so that makes it a fair race!
To cut to the chase, we saw big improvements in lap times for both the Empulse RR (prototype bike) and the Empulse TTX (production based, modified) with Shane Turpin and EBoz at the controls, respectively. Shane and Eric took 1st and 2nd in the Electric Modified class and were the class of the field by far.
We met with all the riders in the morning and decided that the amount of modifications made to Eric’s Brammo Empulse TTX bike, Jeff Clark’s Zero (Pikes Peak bike), and Jeremiah Johnson’s Zero, all moved them into the “Modified” class. Brandon Miller made the case that his Zero SR bike was stock with just wheel/tire upgrades and lighting removed for racing, so he got to stay in the “Production” class. I would also be running my personal 2014 Empulse R in the Production class as I’ve not gotten around to making any modifications outside of upgrading the brake and clutch master cylinders. This would be my competitive “debut”, but I had no time to get nervous with the flurry of activity going on around us. It was all I could do to make sure I had my leathers, helmet, and gloves on in time to make it to the grid!
Shane had 2 goals he was chasing – 1. the KleenSpeed ReFuel lap record (a 1’32.046) and 2. the Mission R qualifying record set by Steve Rapp in 2011 (a 1’31.376). We knew #2 would be tough given the format of the Time Trial, but Shane believed he and the bike were capable of it. Everything looked good in the short practice sessions, although we held Shane to only a couple of laps in the second session to make sure we could get the bike fully charged in time for the Time Trial as we lost a channel on our off-board charger regulating us to only 2/3rds charging power.
In the end, Shane set a new ReFuel lap record of 1’31.64, missing Mission’s record by less than 3 tenths of a second. Still, we left very satisfied with the result and felt that even if we missed putting in a single scorching lap, the consistency of the fast times is coming more easily. I usually consider two things when looking to see if we’ve made improvements – the fastest lap AND the “easy” lap times achieved during practice and warm-ups. I feel like we’ve made big improvements in both areas and had there been another FIM or TTXGP event at Laguna this year, we would have improved significantly on overall time based on Shane’s average pace during the ReFuel practice.
The man’s so OCD, he insists on cleaning his own bike!
EBoz was on a mission to keep the Empulse TTX ahead of the electric car classes, especially the Teslas. I was hoping that he could show that a (modified) production electric motorcycle is still capable of outpacing the fastest production electric car on the road. Eric finished the day with a very impressive 1’45.6” lap time, which had him decidedly in front of even the fastest Tesla (a Roadster).
Team Icon Brammo had a great time at the event this year and I managed to podium on my “competitive debut”. While I attend nearly all of our track events, I have never “raced” competitively, so that was a real treat for me. I rode safely and even lead all production bikes in the first practice session (3rd overall behind Shane and Eric), which was cool.
Special thanks to all of our sponsors (Icon, Parker, Farasis Energy, Rinehart Motion Systems, Dunlop, Brembo, Ohlins), team members, families, and customers for supporting the event. Also, big thanks to SpeedVentures for continuing to organize such a cool event every year that just gets bigger and bigger. If you missed out this year, start looking for a set of leathers and a trackday ‘cause you don’t want to miss another one. I know I won’t! I think I know where I can shave some time…
-Brian Wismann / Dir. of Product Development, Brammo Inc.