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.
After the first MotoE race, it’s not the present that really matters — it’s the future
Sunday’s historic electric first MotoE race at a grand prix event was only the very beginning of EV motorcycle racing
MotoGP’s first MotoE weekend was certainly historic. I’m 100 per cent certain that during the entire history of motorcycle grand prix racing there’s never been so many painful puns broadcast by commentators: the charge to the first corner was awesome, the racing was electrifying and there were plenty of shock overtakes. I could go on, but I’ll save you.
Seriously though, what to make of grand prix racing’s first-ever electric race? Well, it was a motorcycle race and if you had watched the shortened five-lap dash with the sound down you’d most likely never have guessed that the bikes were powered by electricity and not by gasoline. Riders crashed, tyres were smoked and there was plenty of bumping and barging. What’s not to like?
Paddock opinion is split three ways about this new way of racing motorcycles around in circles: some people love change; others hate it and others don’t really care either way.
This dislike of change is nothing new. When grand prix two-strokes arrived in the 1960s many race fans hated their ear-splitting shriek and clouds of choking smoke. But they grew to love them. Then when the MotoGP four-strokes replaced 500cc two-strokes in the early 2000s many fans wailed and gnashed their teeth because their noses missed the smell of burnt two-stroke oil and their ears missed the crackle of expansion-chamber music.
Roughly speaking, it’s a generational split: those who grew up smoking fags and drinking heavily are less into the idea of electric-vehicle racing than those who grew up with iPads and energy drinks. Carlo Pernat, the oldest of the paddock’s old guard, has zero interest in MotoE. “They may be the future,” he hissed thought a cloud of cigarette smoke. “But they’re not my future.”
Mugen’s TT Zero winner Michael Rutter sums up the reality better than most. “It’s going to happen whether you like it or not, so you may as well embrace it,” he says.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.