Michael Rutter sets TT Zero lap record 121.91 miles/hr at Isle of Man

Today during TT Week, Mugen’s riders Michael Rutter and John McGuinness took both the #1 and #2 positions, with Michael Rutter breaking the 120 miles/hr lap speed threshold and setting a new TT Zero lap record. Along the way John McGuinness had a fantastic speed at the Sulby Speed Trap, at 176 miles/hr. Another competitor, the Univ of Nottingham team, had a bike performing neck-to-neck with the Mugens but that bike did not make it past “The Bungalow” (the peak of the mountain) and was unable to finish. Rounding out the top three, therefore, was Ian Lougher with a much slower lap speed of 102 miles per hour, but of course it wasn’t that many years ago that speed was ground-breaking in the TT Zero.

The image above does not show the correct final results. This post will be updated when final results are available.

The week was marred by two things. The simplest was the weather, because heavy rain prevented any TT activity for two days, and this prevented at least one TT Zero qualifying round. Surely the results might have been much better if the TT Zero teams had had more chances to practice. The concrete result is that the IOM TT organization crammed six TT races into one day, with the TT Zero being race #5 out of the six.

The other issue is the unfortunate death of one of the riders. Daley Matheson died during practice earlier in the week. He rode for the Nottingham team, and was a well-liked racer. Every TT Zero team put a sticker on their bike honoring Daley Matheson. I almost did not do this report, because it makes me sick every time this happens, but as folks point out to me the riders know what they’re getting into every time they go out.

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The Nottingham team arranged a substitute rider, Davey Todd, who is a teammate and close buddy of Daley Matheson, to take Daley’s place. Davey had never ridden the Nottingham bike.

At the Sulby Speed Trap, Davey Todd did 160 miles/hr, Michael Rutter did 174 miles/hr, and John McGuinness did 176 miles/hr. As of the Ramsey Hairpin, John McGuinness had a 133 miles/hr lap speed, Davey Todd had 130 miles/hr lap speed, and Michael Rutter had 134 miles/hr lap speed. In short, the Nottingham bike was performing great, was heading to be on the podium probably in 3rd place, but something happened and Davey Todd did not make it past the top of the mountain.

The Mugen Team is of course widely regarded as a proxy for Honda, where Honda is using Mugen’s involvement as R&D to develop an electric super-bike. Every year they oomph up the power and the technology.

Michael Rutter had been involved with both the TTXGP and the TT Zero as the rider for MotoCzysz, a team that folded after Michael Czysz died of cancer several years ago. A couple years ago Rutter joined the Mugen team. He has always finished in 1st place for every TT Zero race he has entered.

John McGuinness has ridden for Mugen for many years, but had to sit out last year because of a seriously bad injury. In the winners circle he described to the Manx Radio announcer that his leg was detached a year ago, and he thought he’d never be in a TT Winners Circle ever again.

The big takeaway is that the state of the technology has moved forward. The TT Zero announcers this year were commenting on how far the electric bikes have come, and said that Mugen’s team thought they could manage a two lap TT Zero albeit at a much slower speed in order to save energy to handle the longer distance.

Maybe that would cause the IOM TT organization to stop downplaying the TT Zero event. As for several recent years the IOM TT organization made zero announcements about the TT Zero event, and all TT Zero activity was placed at the edges of the schedule. That effect is that nobody can learn about TT Zero anything except by following the individual teams to see what social media posts they make.

It so happens that this year is the 10th running of electric motorcycles during the TT Week. Ten years ago the TTXGP held its first event, the inaugural electric motorcycle race at the Isle of Man. But in the year between June 2009 and June 2019, the IOM TT board took the electric motorcycle race event away from the TTXGP team and launched the TT Zero in its place. Hence this year is the 9th running of the TT Zero, but the 10th running of electric bikes during TT Week.

A participant in 2009 TTXGP reminiscing on its 10th anniversary, on the occasion of the 9th running of the TT Zero.

Let’s not get distracted by the history of this. Mugen broke through a big threshold, setting two 120+ miles/hr lap speeds, and Michael Rutter set a new lap record of nearly 122 miles/hr.

Official start list

Start Pos No. Rider Machine/Entrant Interval
1 1 Michael Rutter MUGEN / Bathams Mugen 0:00:00
2 3 John McGuinness MUGEN / Bathams Mugen 0:00:10
3 4 Allann Venter Brunel / Brunel University 0:00:20
4 5 Matthew Rees University of Bath / University of Bath 0:00:30
5 6 Ian Lougher Idaten X RE / Team Mirai with ILR / Mark Cov 0:00:40
6 7 Mike Norbury Duffy Motorsport SR / Duffy Motorsport 0:00:50
7 8 Shaun Anderson Duffy Motorsport 0:01:00
8 10 Alun Thomas R&DE / Race & Design Engineering 0:01:10

TTXGP History Distraction

In case you do want to get distracted by TTXGP history ….

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.

One Comment

  1. As ever, great article.

    Regarding University of Nottingham’s bike, their website says “Reaching speeds in excess of 180mph with 12 kWhr of stored energy and peak power of >200kW…” (https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/groups/power-electronics-machines-and-control-group/e-racing-team/)
    The Isle of Man TT lap is 37.75 miles.
    I can only assume the “12KWh” energy figure is really wrong — otherwise, they’d never make a complete lap and it would come to a stop half way around… hey, wait a second…

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