Although it’s over 3 hours and 200 miles down the road, we consider Thunderhill to be the “home track” for the team as we’ve spent so much time there developing the bikes. It’s also a convenient track for our sponsor and motor development partner, Parker-Hannifin, to get to from their offices in Sonoma County. Having had an eye-opening, but successful first run in the AFM Round 2 at Sonoma, we were excited for the opportunity to see how we faired at a track a little more suited to the strengths of our bike. The long back and front straights along with a very fast section of track from Turn 6 to 10 provides the opportunity to stretch the legs of the RR and make use of its horsepower advantage over the 600s, 750s, and up to 1,000cc V-twins we compete with. Going into the weekend, however, we knew we had whole seconds to shave off of our previous best lap times at T-Hill in order to be truly competitive. Luckily, we had an extra practice day on Friday and two highly talented riders in order make good on our plan!
EBoz getting up to speed through Turn 2 during the Z2 trackday on Friday. This long left hand turn would prove to be a weak point for the RR compared to the lighter gas bikes that could carry more corner speed.
It turned out to be a great event overall for Team Icon Brammo on the Empulse RR and equally good for Team Parker Brammo with the Empulse TTX production-racer. Here’s my quick round-up of the races…
Eric Bostrom ran the team’s fastest ever lap of Thunderhill on the Empulse RR during Saturday practice, a 1:56.5, and was fastest in the Group 4 practice session (second fastest over all Group 4 practices). I suspect this is also the unofficial track record for an electric motorcycle at Thunderhill, but it would be difficult to prove.
Shelina had an eventful practice day with a crash in Turn 10 right before the lunch break. She was fine, but the bike took damage to both sides after leaving the track and flipping in the dirt. Luckily, the frame, batteries, and motor all checked out fine and we were able to get the broken parts fixed and the bike back on track by the next practice session.
AFemme race with Shelina Moreda on the Empulse RR:
First up for the weekend’s races was the AFemme (all female) race class on Saturday after the practice sessions concluded. Shelina snuck in one practice session on the bike and then raced the Empulse RR for the first time ever, taking a 5th place finish and a best lap of 2:05. Not bad for almost no practice time on the bike (not to mention being a bit sore from the crash)! She was all grins when she was back in the paddock and seemed quite impressed with the performance and power of the RR.
Shelina shows what AFM is all about… close and competitive racing! Shelina was as impressed with the performance of the RR as the team was with her performance on it!
250 Superbike with Shelina Moreda on the Empulse TTX:
Shelina was up first for Sunday’s races with Race 3 of the day – 250 Superbike. Although there are some really, really fast 250s in this class, the races tend to be dominated by custom built 450 “super-singles”. Since Sonoma, we had been going over race start procedure with Shelina to get the jump off the line we were sure she could get from the TTX. She was so nervous that she would go back to “default” race mode and rev the motor that we taped a “Don’t Rev!” sign to the dash. Well… it all went to plan and she shot up from 8th to 2nd going into Turn 1. She ended up with a 6th place finish, for Team Parker Brammo’s 2nd top 10 finish on the season. Shelina set her fastest ever lap times on the Empulse TTX at a 2:12.7 with a top speed on the front straight of over 116 mph.
Formula 1 with Eric Bostrom on the Empulse RR:
Directly following the lunch break was Eric’s first of two races with the RR. As in Sonoma, we were granted permission to start from the 4th row of the grid in P13. Like Shelina in the morning’s race, Eric made good use of the torque of the electric motor to get a rocket start up into P4 going into Turn 1. Eric was able to hold the position for Lap 1 and then began losing positions in the weaker areas of the track for us – like the long left-hand Turn 2. Still, he was able to push the bike hard and fend off a number of attacks to come home in 7th overall. Even though he was unable to improve on the lap times set in Saturday’s practice, it still felt like a GIANT leap forward with us now actually RACING rather than just participating in the race. The team is still riding the high from watching this race!
EBoz leads a pack of hungry gas bike racers down the “wheelie-hill” and into Turn 10. A perfect start shot him up into 4th place for the first lap. It was exciting and impressive to watch him dicing with these aggressive racers.
750 Superbike with Eric Bostrom on the Empulse RR:
After an impressive finish in the Formula 1 race, we had high expectations heading into the 750SB race. This grid seemed to be a bit fuller than the F1 race, although we were starting from the same grid position. Off the start, Eric didn’t get quite the jump he got in the previous race and got caught out in a bit of a traffic jam headed into Turn 1. As the race wore on, Eric was able to fight and put a pass on the rider ahead to bring the bike home in 10th place, rounding out a phenomenal weekend for the team. 4 races and 4 top tens!
Shelina and team debrief with Eric after the race. It was all smiles for the team at the end of the weekend. 4 great results from 4 races and invaluable data and feedback to continue improving the bikes.
Special thanks to all the friends, family, and sponsors that showed up this weekend to show their support! You give us the courage and ability to keep pushing the technology, the bikes, and the riders. The team is looking forward to the ReFuel event next!