Luck Favors the Prepared…
And so, we were feeling very well prepared heading into what could very well be the last event for the season for the race team (as of this writing, no word on a “World Final” from eRoadRacing). Richie and Craig had completed all prep work on the Empulse TTX and RRs about a week in advance, a new record of preparedness for the team.
We had even tested our latest improvements on our Brammo/Eltek DC “Supercharger” set-up that we have been developing during this season’s races. It made its first debut at Laguna Seca, allowing us to top off the bikes during the long qualifying session, and now allows us to bring our infrastructure with us to the track. This allows us to charge the bikes faster and be much less dependent on the existing infrastructure at the track, a problem we encountered when racing with AFM at the beginning of the season at Sonoma Raceway.
1 Brammo/Eltek Portable DC Fast Charge Infrastructure. Engineer Adrian Lamy, responsible for the system design is visible in the background.
Unfortunately, a minor crisis required the attention of our engineers at HQ, so the idea of running the Friday trackday for practice ahead of the AFM Saturday practices was out the window. This left us with only Saturday morning to get practice laps for Eric Bostrom, who would be riding both the TTX and the RR, and Shane Turpin, who would be focused on the RR and his new Ducati Panigale. In theory, we would run 1 session on each bike every hour for a total of five 10 minute practice sessions. But, that was theory, and this is reality…
Eric had a good first session on the Empulse TTX, our production based racer, getting reacquainted with the “little bike” that he had helped develop in pre-season testing. The feedback was positive – the bike was “doing everything pretty well” according to EBoz, a good sign considering how particular he is about bike set-up. If you need proof, check out this commemorative T-shirt the team created for him with all of his catch phrases used throughout the season to troubleshoot handling issues:
Shelina was off in Europe teaching an all-female riding school, so we brought in Eric to help us get the result on the TTX that’s been eluding us this season due to a crash at Laguna and some set-up problems. This race for the TTX would be important as we’d be looking to not only close the gap to the gas bikes we were racing, but we’d also be starting alongside rider Kenyon Kluge on his K2 Racing Zero S, who had managed to take 2nd at Laguna and 3rd at Indianapolis. So… production-based electric bike bragging rights were on the line as well! Competition aside, it was great to see Kenyon at the event and his presence strengthened the view within the paddock that electric bikes have a right to be here.
So the TTX was running pretty well from the get go, but when it came to the RRs, the gremlins were out in full force! Two faulty connectors on Shane Turpin’s RR relegated him to a single practice session and a suspected cell short on Eric’s bike had the same result for him. Luckily, both issues were resolved by the team in time for the races, but we didn’t do ourselves any favors by cutting practice short…
Formula 40 Middleweight Race:
First up to race was Shane Turpin on his no.14 Empulse RR13 competing in Formula 40 Middleweight. Given that Shane had no points in the series, he was gridded back on row 4 in 12th position. It would be a 2 wave start with the heavyweights going off first. Shane got a very good launch and made up about 8 grid positions before Turn 1. He was running in 2nd position after the riders emerged into view at Turn 3. He took an outside line on the exit of Turn 5, putting him on the inside of the left-hand Turn 6 and made the pass for the lead. From there, he put his head down to try to bridge the gap to the heavyweights and was not threatened on his way to the first ever electric bike race win in AFM history. Shane also turned an impressive 1:53.5 lap time, the fastest of the race, heavyweight bikes included. That was already a HUGE improvement over our previous best lap at Thunderhill (1:56.3), but we were to find out on Sunday that Shane had even more to give…
6 Shane set a new lap record for Brammo which he then broke the following day.
Final Results/Classification: http://www.mylaps.com/en/classification/2898430
And the winner is… Shane!
250 Superbike Race:
EBoz would be starting the TTX back on the 5th row of the grid in 9th position alongside Kenyon Kluge on his Zero S. He was feeling good about the pace of the bike, but nervous that if the gas bikes got out ahead, they could block him going into the corners and keep him from being able to take full advantage of the TTX’s strong point – it’s acceleration out of the corners. We were giving up as much as 100 lbs. to the 250s and 450s we’d be racing, so Eric was going to have his work cut out for him to keep them behind him in through more technical Turn 2 to Turn 5 section of the track. A good start was critical…
AND… we didn’t get it. Eric jumped the start, stopped the bike to avoid taking any advantage and being protested, missed the actual start flag dropping, wheelied, then got going again. Not-exactly-what-we-had-planned…. Oh well. Being the cool, calm, and collected racer he is, EBoz put it out of his head and got to work. He was able to make up a lot of ground on the faster backside of the track and even made a couple of passes on the front straight on Mark McKinney (super-fast 250 rider), but would lose the position back diving into Turn 1. By lap 2, he had made it up into a highly contested 3rd place, which he held until lap 4 when the motor controller began reducing current due to temperature. With his wings clipped, Eric fell back into the clutches of Mark McKinney and Robert Wetterau and managed to hold 5th for the final 2 laps. It looked like he might take 4th back at the line, but Wetterau got a better drive off Turn 14 onto the front straight and Eric wasn’t able to push past before the start/finish.
All in all, a great finish for the team and we’re happy to have proven to ourselves that the Empulse is a real performer on the track. Eric ran a best lap (and TTX record) of 2:07.7, a lap time that we would’ve been happy to see on the RR not so long ago! Now that’s progress!
Final Results/Classification: http://www.mylaps.com/en/classification/2898438
Formula 1 Race:
With 2 races down, a win and some vindication under the belt, there was no need to push for another result… Right, Shane?!… Shane?… Wrong. Shane was, yet again, a man on a mission, but found some stiff competition at the sharp end of the Formula 1 field with AMA regulars using the event to hone their skills and get more track time. Joey Pascarella and Sebastiao Ferriera fought each other for the win in this one, and Shane managed to stay close to the front pack and finish in 5th overall. On the way to the finish, he racked up another record lap for Team Icon Brammo, turning a 1:52.7, a mere 3 seconds off his best lap set on his new Ducati Panigale Superbike. The gap to the front is getting smaller.
Final Results/Classification: http://www.mylaps.com/en/classification/2898442
750 Superbike Race:
EBoz had one last task to perform for the team – get a result in the 750 Superbike race and test out some new parts and settings that may show the way for future improvements. With most of his time dedicated to getting the TTX set up and the battery issue during practice, Eric had very little practice time on his RR prior to the race. That said, he still stepped up in a class also filled with AMA regulars and AFM stand-outs like Tucker Lancaster and Cameron Gish, and finished a respectable 6th place overall and improving on his finish in this race in June (10th overall).
14 Eric rode to a 6th place overall finish in a very competitive field.
Final Results/Classification: http://www.mylaps.com/en/classification/2898446
It was a great race weekend for the team and a great way to wrap-up the 2013 season. In my view, we’ve improved on every aspect that matters – the bikes are faster, the riders are more confident in the equipment, the team has honed their race craft, and we’ve improved our results in races from the start of the season to the end. I couldn’t be more proud of what we’ve accomplished together and thanks to everyone that helped make this program a success! I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for BRT (Brammo Racing Technology)… Thanks! – Brian Wismann, Team Manager
Special Thanks to:
Icon Motosports, Parker Racing, Dunlop Tires, Rinehart Motion Systems, Eltek Chargers, Farasis Energy, Amber Composites, and AM Racing.