This year’s SES TT Zero electric bike challenge, run as part of the historic Isle of Man TT race meeting, will see the highest number of entries in the event’s four year history.
Eighteen competitors have confirmed their entries and will be aiming to become the first to beat the 100 mph average lap speed for the 37 ¾ mile Mountain Course.
Heading the field will be the American Team Segway Racing MotoCzysz squad from Portland, Oregon. The team, run by Michael Czysz, has dominated the last two races with Mark Miller taking the 2010 title and Michael Rutter winning in 2011, beating teammate Miller and just missing the 100mph mark. The pair will set off with the number 1 and 2 plates this year and should be the team to beat.
MotoCzysz will face some mighty competition, the biggest threat likely coming from one of Japan’s most respected motorsport companies and Honda partner, Team Mugen.
As a further sign of Mugen’s desire to be bring home glory to Japan, the firm have signed-up seventeen-time champion and TT legend John McGuinness to ride their machine. The Mugen bike, which has been christened “SHINDEN” (electricity of God), is an all-new ground-up design featuring a carbon frame and swingarm designed specifically for the challenging island circuit.
McGuinness has already tested the Mugen this year at the Motegi circuit in Japan and said he was honoured and excited to race the electric bike.
“I am honoured to be asked to ride the Mugen Shinden, which, originating from a company with such pedigree and from a country where over the years the best racing motorbikes have been produced, could prove to be a major milestone in the history of the SES TT Zero event.”
“The bike was, as you would expect from a company such as Mugen, a well-designed and well put together proper race bike. As soon as I got underway it felt natural and I almost forgot it was fully electric, while I was also learning the Twin Ring Motegi circuit for the first time.”
“Now, having ridden the Mugen Shinden I am looking forward even more to competing in my first SES TT Zero event. This was a trip of firsts; my first time riding an electric bike, my first time around Motegi and also the fulfillment of a lifelong ambition to visit the Honda Collection Hall, which is in the circuit complex. All in all, a really satisfying trip.”
The Morecambe Missile will take the number three plate, which he adopted when achieving the first 130mph lap on a regular bike in the 2007 Centenary TT meeting.
The first Kawasaki team to compete should also generate significant interest. James Hillier, who will be starting in all of the solo races, is leading the Bournemouth Kawasaki/Zytek Automotive campaign on board the Kawasaki-Zytek ZX10ev.
Team Agni has set the benchmark for the event with its stunning success in 2009 and is returning after a year’s absence. The team has entered three electric bikes to regain the title, led by fastest female rider on the Mountain Course Jenny Tinmouth.
George Spence and Paul Owen will be representing leading University Team Ecotricity Kingston, one of the founding teams in the event who have appeared every year to date and took the University prize last year as well as finishing third overall. Brunel (Russ Mountford) and Imperial College (Roy Richardson) are also appearing again this year and will challenge Ecotricity Kingston for the position of leading University.
The global nature of this event is highlighted by India’s Team Tork/Haiyin Racing who will have Spanish rider Antonio Maeso representing their effort. Further international programmes include Japan’s Komatti Mirai Racing with Yoshinari Matsushita and Italy’s Team Vercarmoto, who become the 9th country to take part in the event.
There’s local interest too with ManTTx, who will again have Manx rider Dan Kneen on their machine. The Manx outfit took the final podium spot in 2010 and will again be looking to mount a challenge on their home turf. Two UK riders, Paul Shoesmith and Northern Ireland’s John Burrows who will be racing for Sarolea and Lighting Motorcycles respectively, complete this year’s field.
Mark Guthrie, MD, of event sponsors SES Satellite Leasing Ltd, the world leading Satellite Communications provider that is again supporting the event, commented:
“We are delighted to see the event growing in stature in our second year of supporting the race. As a company we pride ourselves on technical excellence and all of the participating teams deserve great credit for their groundbreaking efforts. The lap times bear witness to the remarkable progress that has already been made and we anticipate major progress again this year.”
John Shimmin, MHK Minister, Department of Economic Development, Isle of Man Government, also noted:
“When we first developed the concept we couldn’t have anticipated the remarkable progress that the teams would make but already, only four years into the event, we are potentially about to witness history in the making with the first 100mph lap of the course by an electric bike. The Isle of Man can take great pleasure in being at the forefront of technical development and the event has helped us to promote our clean tech industry and credentials to a worldwide audience.”
This article originally featured on emotorsportnews.com
Images: Team Mugen