Six weeks before entries close for the UK’s first electric motorcycle championship, promoter Azhar Hussain has unleashed another revolutionary concept on the racing world: ownership of a series by the competitors.
Hussain’s proposal, which also applies to the US and Italian championships he’s set up, shares out an increasing slice of the income from TV rights, merchandising and sponsorship among the teams.
Essentially they receive ‘units’ of the business (and voting rights on rules) based on their participation. Any profits at the end of the year are shared between unit holders.
“2010 is a setup year, but in 2011 we’ll work hard to give some money back,” Hussain told MCN. “In five to ten years this could be a billion dollar enterprise.”
So far there has still only been one international electric bike race, which Hussain organised, at the 2009 Isle of Man TT.
It generated so much media coverage that two of its founding partners, the Isle of Man Government and the FIM, set up rival electric races in 2010.
At the time of writing, the new TT Zero race has announced two entries, and the FIM’s e-Power, which pays teams €5000 per race, just one.
Hussain claims the four-round TTX GP UK, plus the US and Italian counterparts, have attracted 55 expressions of interest.
“This partnership is about a sustainable future,” he said. “We need a grid, and we need a grid in depth.
"We’re not here to be a governing body. We’re here to be a race series that can move the electric bike industry forward, and enable teams to own a piece of the future that they’re creating. That’s not going to happen in the traditional model.”
Hussain is hoping to get a full grid for the first race in July by offering lucrative ‘pioneer units’ to teams who ignore the rival electric races, and stick with the UK championship in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Unlike normal units, which expire six years after they are earned, pioneer units multiply the end-of-year payout, and keep their value for as long as a team stays involved.
“Teams have a tough time getting a sustainable income stream,” he said. “This is a way they can get into long term planning, and start investing in premises and people.”
The legally binding plan gives an increasing share of the business to the teams, effectively crowding Hussain’s own stakeholding out.
“In 2010, 30% of the equity goes to the trust which shares out the dividends,” he confirmed. “By 2020, it will be 70% of the equity or more.”
The big question is whether electric racing, which is fast but extraordinarily quiet, will be a crowd-pulling spectacle. What it has in spades in technological interest.
Mavizen’s TTX 02 electric production racer, which uses a KTM RC8 rolling chassis, is expected to be released to the press this month.
Italian F1 engineers CRP have also produced a tiny electric racebike, and last year’s TT race attracted one-off bikes from England, Austria, Germany, India and the USA.
Hussain insists this is the chance of a lifetime for new electric race teams. “Come hell or high water they need to be on that grid this year. The benefits are unprecedented.”
The closing date for UK championship entries is April 29th.
Details on www.egrandprix.com