TTXGP qualifying round, 2012 PIR – MotoCzysz pulls out

As I reported yesterday, the operative word for the day was “WET” with rain on-and-off all the day.  The qualifying round yesterday was supposed to be at about 3:50 PM, but a heavy rain squall piled in at 3:00 PM, with cats and dogs falling from the sky and everything.  But it was a short rain shower that lifted off pretty quick, necessitating a rain delay, with the bikes going out for qualifying round at 5:00 PM.  By that time a couple rounds of gas bike racing had gone out, and the track became dry.

As a surprise, two of the Zero S’s went out during the Ninja 250 race at around 4:00 PM.  The 250’s turned in lap times around 1:34-1:38, and the Zero’s consistently gave lap times of 1:43-1:44, which meant the Zero’s fell behind throughout the race.

Those two Zero’s also went out during TTXGP qualifying, which raised a question of “well, how did they pull that off?”  Namely, to go out, race, then go out and race again just a few minutes later.  What Zero engineers explained to me is that, because the Zero charging setup allows multiple chargers to work together to charge the same bike, what they do is run several chargers per bike, effectively getting a fast charge.  Secondly, the 250 race was only 6 laps which pulled only half the charge from the bikes.  Between those two factors, fast charging by ganging together several chargers, and only using half charge, meant they could completely recharge in 1/2 hour.

For the qualifying round, all the teams went out:   Brammo (w/ Steve Atlas), the two MotoCzysz bikes (Michael Czysz, Christopher Ancien), Proto Moto (Ely Schless), VA Tech (Matt Kent), Zero (Kenyon Kluge, Troy Siahaan, Don Headrick, Chris Page)

TTX75 Award: As was true earlier in the day, the VA Tech bike looked excellent, and ran stronger than the Zero S’s.  Ely Schless had slightly slower lap times, at 1:37.441 versus VA Tech’s 1:34.494.

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eSuperStock Award: For most of the race three of the Zero riders ran as a cluster, with the fourth trailing behind them by a couple hundred yards.  This showed both collaboration between the riders, as well as how closely matched these bikes were.  Prior to the qualifying round the teams switched rear sprockets for a different gearing ratio.  The best lap times for all for were in the 1:40-1:41 range, a little faster than they ran during the 250 race.

Top bikes: Brammo and MotoCzysz were duking it out big time to be the top dogs.  Because Lightning wasn’t able to make it (their gear was still in transit from the Isle of Man), that left these two teams for the top position.  Both bikes looked excellent and turned in very fast lap times.  It was clear however that MotoCzysz was running faster than Brammo, and the lap times agree.  Brammo’s best lap times was 1:18.949, with both MotoCzysz bikes giving 1:15.839 and 1:15.958 lap times.

Both the MotoCzysz riders came into the pits a couple times, and word is they may have adjusted controller settings.  Towards the end of the qualifying Ancien came into the pits for conferring, then slowly rode down the pit area watching the track as Steve Atlas passed at full speed on the track, and taking care to rejoin the track just as Atlas passed.  By the end of that lap Ancien had passed Atlas, demonstrating again that the MotoCzysz bikes are faster than Brammo’s.

However..

At the end of the Qualifying, the bike ridden by Christopher Ancien had an issue that I did not directly witness.  I’ve talked with Michael Czysz to get clarification, and I’ve watched a video taken by an onlooker.

What happened is that in the pits, a cloud of smoke engulfed the bike and the pit crew pushed the bike to the side and poured water on the battery pack to cool it down.  As a result the MotoCzysz team has pulled out of this weekends’  TTXGP race.

What happened is the bike was set up with a battery pack meant for the Isle of Man.  This means building the pack from “Energy Cells” that support a lower C rate than the “Power Cells” they’d use for a TTXGP race.  The difference is that the Isle of Man, at 38 miles distance, is longer in length than the TTXGP races.  This means for a TTXGP race they can run with higher C rate cells to run at higher speeds, whereas for the Isle of Man they need a lower C rate allowing for more total kilowatt-hours to make the full length of the race.

Because the pack supports a lower C rate, and because Ancien ran more laps than did Michael, the pack was stressed more.  The pack got hotter (while Michael’s pack stayed within the target temperature) and got close to the temperature that would trigger a thermal runaway.  Meaning the bike nearly caught fire.

With concern that a) the MotoCzysz team has spent several months busting butt to make it to the Isle of Man, and b) the bike had the wrong pack for todays race, the team chose to back out of the race.  While they had one bike in running order, and could have raced with that today, it would have been with the risk of the same thermal problem occurring today.

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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