Returning North America Champions Team ICON BRAMMO talk shop ahead of the season opener
2nd May 2012
TTXGP press office
TTXGP North America 2012 opens as always at the Infineon Raceway's Moto Jam, this weekend; in order to give you some insight into to what to expect this season we caught up with our 2011 championship winners Steve Atlas (rider) and Brian Wismann (Brammo product Development) From Team Icon Brammo to let you into their world"
Firstly congratulations on winning here at Infineon last season and going on to take home the 2010 TXGP North America crown, How confident are you going into this season
(Steve Atlas) I'm far more confident than last year that's for sure. Then again, last year I had only ridden an electric motorcycle twice before the opening round, so it was an all new world to me. But after the success we had last year and the improvements the team have made to the bike in the off-season I'm feeling good about defending our title and am excited to get things going! The guys at Brammo did an amazing job last year and I can't wait to show off what improvements they have made to the Empulse RR this off-season.
Whats the main difference fans will notice this year from Brammo in terms of the technology?
(Brian Wismann) For 2012, Brammo has focused on upgrading the powertrain of the bike to a new, more powerful Parker-Hannifin motor along with a physically smaller and lighter motor controller/inverter. The chassis and battery technology remain largely unchanged from last season as we were quite happy with their performance and credit the bike’s handling and durability with helping us bring home our very first championship in 2011.
Can you tell us anything about this years bike? What can we expect to see? improvements?
(BW) The big news for us this year is the inclusion of a new title sponsor in Icon Motosports, hence the new team name as Team Icon Brammo. We believe that Icon’s interest in our program and TTXGP racing is very good news for our sport as it represents consumer brands taking notice of what’s happening out here at the race track. Outside of this exciting news, Brammo is committed to bringing the fastest bike it can to each and every race, so we’ll continue to develop the bike and learn through the races where we can work to improve further. There are also plans on the drawing board for some revised bodywork for the Laguna Seca round which should aid with rider positioning and aerodynamics.
What is the most common question you get asked by people regarding racing electric? How do you answer it?
First thing 99-percent of people ask is if it's like riding a traditional internal combustion engine motorcycle and if it's strange to ride a bike that doesn't make any noise. I tell them that beyond the basics of being a sporting motorcycle with two wheels, etc, it's actually quite a bit different; the biggest thing one notices is the total lack of any engine braking and not having a clutch or doing any shifting.
The bike not making any noise is a bit odd at first as well, but is actually quite nice once you're used to it.
You announced last year the fact you were going into partnership with TTXGP to produce a race ready bike for future teams; the Empulse TTX - how have these plans progressed, when can future racers take possession of one?
(BW)The Empulse TTX will be based on our production Empulse and Empulse R platform which will be launched to the public on May 8th, directly following the first race of the TTXGP season at Infineon. The bike has been developed with the goal of having a solid platform upon which a privateer or professional race team can cost effectively build a contender for the TTXGP series. We will begin testing in earnest towards during the summer and from this point in time, it seems likely that an interested racer could take possession in early 2013 to have time to prepare the bike well prior to the opening round.
Brammo are leaders in the electric vehicle industry and have a team who have raced with TTXGP since 2009, the very beginning... as such the team have more insight in the electric Motorcycle market than most... How do you see these technologies developing and what improvements can we expect on the track in the next 5-10 years?
(BW) Even having been involved from the initial “drop of the flag”, we have been very impressed with the pace of development in the electric motorcycle space on all sides of technology and feel the industry truly has a debt of gratitude owed to the teams and racers who continue to push the technology on race after race. For the near term future, I think we can expect to see the power levels continuing to climb to the near 200hp level, and the bike weights to continue to drop well into the sub-450 lbs range. Of course, this level of motor performance will be useless without the battery power and endurance needed to make use of it, so we can expect improvements to specific power and capacity as well. At the moment, the bikes are circulating around the tracks on pace with a well-sorted Supersport class race bike, but I think it will not be long before they are competitive with the professional Superbikes. Electric motorcycles racing in MotoGP?... That’ll have to wait another decade or so IMHO.
Finally what’s great about racing at Infineon?
(SA) Infineon is an awesome track; one of my personal favorites. The elevation and diversity of corners makes for one of the most fun as well as the most physically and mentally demanding tracks in the U.S.
The blind corners and technical layout make it a track that takes quite awhile to learn and rewards smart riding over flat-out aggression.
Thanks to Steve and Brian for their time. The developments of these prototype motorcycles are certainly fast paced and key to the success of the race series. As the season opener, Infineon will be a first look at the improvements made across the board and race fans should be in for some close paced action as 2010 winners hope a return to form will see them clinch the crown as well as a look at the first spec class bikes from Zero motorcycles. More team details can be found on egrandprix.com or twitter #TTXGP or facebook TTXGPofficial
Images taken a Infineon 2011
photo's by Phil hawkins from Ishootfromthehip.com,
photos by Jules Cisek (photo.popmonkey.com)
with much thanks.
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