It is the most challenging and important motorbike race of the year: the Isle of Man TT. The best riders and teams are united and lapping the island one by one as fast as possible. One particular class that caught attention by many spectators and international press, was the electric division: the TT Zero. John McGuinness, a TT-veteran was on a mission to take his first win on an electric powered bike.
McGuinness has won the Senior TT six times, took 20 wins in total and competed in the electric division since 2012. After completing the 37,73 mile course (60,72 km) in second position twice, he and his team Shinden San / Team Mugen were determined to maximise the performance of the 100 kW and 220 Nm torque motorbike. Winning was the only goal.
Eyebrows raised when McGuinness hit the Isle of Man roads for the first time this year, recording a top speed of 164,9 mph (265,4 km/h) and breaking the previous lap record instantly. Qualifying first gave him a certain confidence and knowledge that he could write motorbike history. After a successful lap (see video), the British rider was first to complete a lap under 20 minutes with an incredible average speed of 117,366 mph (188,882 km/h), beating the previous record by 7,5 mph (12 km/h) and 1 minute and 20 seconds.
Once again, the willingness to win in electric racing boosts innovation. The Shinden San / Team Mugen engineers created an incredible machine to write history with. McGuinness finished the job by doing what he does best: riding fast! And interestingly, he was only 1,8 seconds shy to the current Lightweight 650cc Supertwin one lap record. Motorbike manufacturers and Isle of Man TT organisation are anticipating that electric motorbikes could compete with the top class fossil fuelled bikes within a couple of years.
Concerning electric racing with four wheel cars, the same might happen soon. In September, the first fully-electric circuit racing series is starting in Beijing, China, and will race at ten city centre tracks. The FIA Formula E Championship features ten teams and twenty drivers, all driving the same vehicle. But from season two, constructors are allowed to build and race their own vehicle. And that’s where an EV technology race could begin.
Innovation. That is what racing is about.