MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
MotoE: Make some noise
Next year MotoGP gets its first new world-class championship in more than half a century, but the electric MotoE series must sound great
Within the next few months MotoGP fans will see a MotoE machine ride a few demo laps at a Continental Grand Prix: perhaps Jerez, Le Mans, or most likely Mugello, because both MotoE’s Energica motorcycle and the series sponsors Enel are Italian.
So far the MotoE World Cup hasn’t got fans agog with excitement, mainly because an electric motorcycle race doesn’t involve a quarter of million earth-shaking petroleum explosions. In other words, MotoE is too damn quiet, for the moment, at least.
But the championship is hugely significant in all kinds of ways. MotoE is Grand Prix motorcycling’s first completely new world-class category since the 50cc class born in 1962.
It also an important pointer to the future: governments across the world are calling time on the internal combustion engine. These announcements cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth among purists, but nothing is forever. Once gas-powered bikes leave the roads, how much longer before they disappear from world-class meetings to find sanctuary at classic events, where oldies like you and I will go to sniff the petrol fumes, just like today’s oldies romance about the whiff of Castrol R?
MotoE had its official launch in Rome last week, but I think a trick was missed. Dorna could have nicely linked the future with the past by staging the launch a few miles further down the River Tiber at the Circus Maximus, where two thousand years ago the Romans raced four-horsepower chariots around a 600-metre course in front of 150,000 spectators.
Many petrolheads hate the very idea of electric racing, firstly because the bikes don’t make enough noise and secondly because they’re not fast enough. They are wrong on the second point: the fastest electric race bikes make well over 200 horsepower. Indeed MotoGP’s director of technology Corrado Cecchinelli believes that a top-of-the-range electric race bike could already beat a MotoGP bike over a single lap, using a short-life battery.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about electric race bikes is their dramatically upward curve of performance. The only electric bike race worth talking about – the Isle of Man’s Zero TT – got underway in 2009 with a lap record of 87.4mph. The lap record now stands at 118.4mph, thanks to multiple winners Mugen, the go-ahead company owned by Soichiro Honda’s son. If superbikes had improved at the same rate, the outright TT lap record would now stand at 189mph.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.