Is the FIM attempting to “steal” electric motorcycle racing from TTXGP?

The neat and tidy story where the TTXGP is establishing an electric motorcycle racing series, well, that story got twisted last week when the FIM announced their own electric motorcycle racing series (see FIM launching the E-Power electric motorcycle racing series, without TTXGP). Writing on Nov 30 on the blog, hellforleathermagazine.com, Ivar Kvadsheim lays out a detailed timeline of the relationship between TTXGP and FIM and making a strong case for TTXGP being wronged by FIM. The story he tells is that the FIM didn’t have enough expertise in electric motorcycles to develop their own rules, that they worked with the TTXGP to develop some rules, and then claimed those rules as their own.

Before the TTXGP was formed the FIM had launched their Alternative Energy Working Group to prepare motorcycle racing for life after fossil fuels. However they focused on biofuels rather than anything radically different like an electric or fuel cell driven motorcycle. It was the success of TTXGP at the Isle of Man TT 2009 race which demonstrated electric as the future of motorcycle racing. (see TTXGP & eGrandPrix electric motorcycle race series news) The FIM had placed their approval on the TTXGP race and after the race did announce they would work with TTXGP to launch an electric motorcycle race series starting in 2010. However the FIM did not have their own rules. The TTXGP had done much more than just get some motorcycles onto a track. They had organized a multi-disciplinary advisory team and established a set of rules under which the TTXGP race was run. The TTXGP tech video (filmed by this writer) features Sadie Homer, of the TTXGP organization, discussing the work that TTXGP did in establishing these rules.

The claim is that FIM essentially took TTXGP’s rules. The post on hellforleathermagazine.com reprints the rules for both E-Power and TTXGP race series, demonstrating that they are essentially identical.

By all appearances from the FIM newsletters and press releases a joint partnership was underway between FIM and TTXGP. Several statements were issued by FIM in their newsletter and press releases, all talking about their work with TTXGP. Until, that is, FIM’s announcement of the E-Power race series.

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In another post, Jensen Beeler writing on asphaltandrubber.com suggests a possible motive. He points to a fairly obvious potential for conflict of interest in that Azhar Hussain controls both TTXGP and Mavizen. Mavizen is selling electric superbikes based on the design of the winning bike in the TTXGP 2009 race. By doing so teams have a quick way to get started in electric motorcycle racing just by buying one of Mavizen’s bikes. One basic form of conflict of interest occurs when “an individual or organization is involved with multiple interests or ventures, and one of those interests or ventures could possibly corrupt or impede the best interests for other interest or venture”. In October while being briefed by Azhar Hussain on the then-upcoming Mavizen announcement (see Mavizen’s all electric supermotorcycle for the TTXGP circuit is revealed) this writer did ask whether Mavizen’s entry into selling electric superbikes would prevent teams from using other bikes. Hussain’s said that, of course, there would not be such a restriction. He explained the purpose of Mavizen is to jumpstart competition, not to exert control over the race. This same point is noted by several commenters on Jensen Beeler’s post.

It’s not like Mavizen is alone in selling electric motorcycles capable of competing in the TTXGP. Mission Motorcycles and LIghtning Motors both have demonstrated 150+ miles/hr bikes at the Bonneville Salt Flats, and both have announced intentions to sell electric superbikes. CRP Racing recently announced they would sell electric superbikes explicitly for TTXGP racing. There are several components vendors that other teams are using in building their own motorcycles. Mavizen does not have a controlling position over the TTXGP races. The TTXGP rules are not skewed to prefer Mavizen’s bikes. Azhar Hussain’s message has consistently been to develop the market, and indeed that is what’s happening with several vendors in competition.

Whether this state of affairs is damaging to electric motorcycle racing remains to be seen. Both race series have several races scheduled over the coming year and the roster of teams is not known at this time.

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About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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