The world’s first electric grand prix is coming to the UK this weekend, bringing with it a set of riders as unconventional as the bikes themselves.
The UK rounds of the 2010 TTXGP begin at Snetterton on 10 July where the starting grid will include Isle of Man TT rider Jenny Tinmouth, Swedish Dakar veteran Annie Seel and Staff Sergeant Pete Ward, a British Army cavalryman and race enthusiast.
Further UK-based rounds of the “zero carbon, clean emission” race will be held in Anglesey, the newly reopened Donington Park and Brand’s Hatch. The event currently encompasses other championships in North America and Italy, with a final featuring the most successful teams from all three regions to be held in Albacete in October.
Rupal Patel, part of the event’s organising team, spoke to MCN about the upcoming GP. She said: “All we’ve done is put a call out and it demonstrates that there’s an active interest in this technology from a wide range of people, and it’s a different sort of people than are usually involved in racing.”
She believes that the machines on display, which achieved 97mph laps at this year’s TT, were a vital part of the race’s appeal: “We wouldn’t be doing it if we didn’t think it was the beginning of something big. A lot of people are looking to this technology and not just for bikes but for cars too. The great thing about bikes is that they provide the most effective testing platform.”
The TTXGP is also looking to expand, with potential championships beyond the current three already in the pipeline: “We are definitely looking to some new regions and new partners. It’s a question of making sure we can ensure teams from those regions too, but we definitely have expansion plans.”
The competitors each have their own motivations for taking part in this new and unprecedented type of GP. Tinmouth, finds the electric bikes quite a different experience from riding their petrol-fuelled equivalents. She said: “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, if that doesn’t sound too harsh! It’s quite fast and because it doesn’t have gears it’s very smooth, a little like riding a really fast scooter. It’s just a flat acceleration curve which makes it easy to ride. I’m looking forward to a short circuit, we’ll all just go flat out I should think.”
Ward, meanwhile, believes that his military background makes him perfectly suited to the demands of racing as: “it requires a massive amount of control and fast thinking that all soldiers do naturally”, he did however admit that: “it’s going to be a long challenge with a lot of hard work. I’ve not ridden the race bike yet, so I’m actually going into the race blind. I think a lot of it is going to come down to battery management and controlling the technology.”
ESPN will broadcast ten one-hour shows covering every round of the TTXGP, as well as the final. They are due to be shown at 9pm on Thursday evenings following the race weekends. The channel is available to UK viewers on Sky, BTVision, Virgin, TalkTalk and TopUpTV.
For more information or to apply to take part in next year’s GP visit: www.egrandprix.com