MotoE World Cup rises from the ashes, holds first electric motorcycle race of 2019 season

The MotoE World Cup is a brand new electric motorcycle racing series under the auspices of the FIM. Officially it is known as the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup, and as Enel is a major electricity provider in Europe they must have paid some serious sponsorship dollars. The FIM is the international certifying body for motorcycle racing, and is most known for the MotoGP race series. For the last 12 years or so, the FIM has had an on-again-off-again relationship with electric motorcycle racing, and this time around they’ve got a series that is firmly sanctioned by the FIM.

Getting to that point was the culmination of several years of trials and errors and work both within and outside of the FIM. MotoE almost did not get off the ground, because in March 2019 a fire broke out in a special facility for the MotoE team at Circuito de Jerez, Spain. That fire destroyed all the equipment, and we suppose that could have scuttled the series except that Energica (the supplier for bikes used in the MotoE series) was able to produce a whole new set of race bikes.

The first race of the 2019 MotoE season was held on July 7, 2019, at the Sachsenring in Germany. The results were:

  1. Niki Tuuli, Finland, 5 laps, Total Race Time 7:27.862
  2. Bradley Smith, UK, -0.442 second
  3. Mike Di Meglio, France, -0.567
  4. Hector Garzo, Spain, -0.991
  5. Matteo Ferrari, Italy, -2.095 seconds
  6. Alex De Angelis, San Marino, -4.048
  7. Xavier Simeon, Belgium, -4.304
  8. Eric Granado, Brazil, -8.118
  9. Sete Gibernau, Spain, -9.254
  10. Nicolas Terol, Spain, -9.414
  11. Mattia Casadei, Italy, -9.557
  12. Niccolo Canepa, Italy, -9.674
  13. Jesko Raffin, Switzerland, -9.828
  14. Kenny Foray, France, -10.137
  15. Josh Hook, Australia, -11.157
  16. Maria Herrera, Spain, -18.192
  17. Randy De Puniet, France, -24.808
  18. Lorenzo Savadori, Italy, -1 lap, DNF, crash

My take – as a TTXGP and FIM e-Power observer

Having an 18 bike field for an electric motorcycle race is awesome. One of the things which held back previous attempts to establish any of the predecessor electric motorcycle racing series was the availability of suitable motorcycles. In most cases the bikes with the best performance – Lightning, MotoCzysz, Brammo, Muench Racing, Energica, and others – there were one or two instances of each. The total number of these top end bikes were maybe a dozen at any one time worldwide.

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MotoE chose to focus on one manufacturer, Energica, rather than open the race series to bikes from any manufacturer. In racing many want each race grid to have vehicles of roughly equal capability, so that the racing contest is based on rider skill rather than on the technology of each vehicle. Others want to see racing as an opportunity to develop technology, using competition to speed up research and development. The first model usually limits the number of manufacturers to ensure an even playing field, while the second model is open to all manufacturers.

For MotoE the FIM obviously has chosen the first model, using one manufacturer and giving each rider equal bikes. The first couple seasons of Formula E also followed this model, but nowadays FormulaE allows cars from any approved manufacturer. The cars are still built to strict performance specs. Maybe the MotoE series will open itself to multiple makers in following years, but their first goal is to get off the ground.

In the next section we’ll go over some history. I personally attended most of these events, and talked to many of the leading figures repeatedly during these years.

If availability of suitable motorcycles was the primary problem the secondary problem was fan interest. In every case the electric motorcycle race was held at the edge of the schedule, when few fans were in the stands, and therefore the races were almost invisible to the broader motorcycle racing audience. This meant the series named in the next section had negligible interest.

A brief tour of Electric Motorcycle Racing history

The FIM first looked into electric motorcycle racing along about 2007 or 2008 as I recall. However the first significant electric motorcycle races occurred outside of FIM’s grasp.

In April 2009, Zero Motorcycles held the 24 Hours of Electricross race event in San Jose. This was a 24 hour endurance race using Zero’s only bikes at the time – namely a dirt bike (not street legal) that had a swappable battery pack. Each team had 3 battery packs and a roster of riders. A rider would go out for an hour with their bike, race around, then come into the pit for a battery swap that took less than a minute. All the teams made it through the 24 hour race, and it was great fun.

The race with greater visibility was the TTXGP. The initial TTXGP was held in May 2009 during the TT Week at the Isle of Man. Being held at TT Week, the event got a lot of attention.

Between May 2009 and May 2010, what would have been the second TTXGP at the Isle of Man, there was a major controversy. The TTXGP organizers wanted to launch TTXGP races at regular race tracks in both Europe and the USA, but that didn’t sit well with either the Isle of Man TT officials nor with the FIM. On the Isle of Man, the 2010 race was named TT Zero, and was run by the IOM Tourism Board directly. The FIM launched its own electric motorcycle series, in direct competition with the TTXGP, named e-Power.

The TTXGP was run independently from the FIM and did not have FIM sanctioning. It struggled for acceptance, and ran seasons in Europe, North America and even Australia during 2010, 2011 and 2012. Each subsequent year, even though the participants brought ever-more-powerful bikes, participation and fan awareness dwindled.

For the 2013 season an agreement was made with FIM end both the TTXGP and the e-Power series, replacing them with a series named eRoadRacing. But it fizzled within a few months.

From the ashes of TTXGP/e-Power/eRoadRacing, a new series launched in Europe, still not under the FIM auspices. That new series was named MotoE, and ran races in 2014 through 2018. Then in 2018 it was announced FIM would run a series named MotoE, in Europe, using Energica motorcycles.

Until this, the TTXGP and and TT Zero e-Power and eRoadRacing and MotoE series were all open to any bike from any manufacturer and several university teams.

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The competition between manufacturers did act to accelerate electric motorcycle development. For a few years Brammo, MotoCzysz, Lightning and Zero Motorcycles were all vying for preeminence. But that competition fizzled somewhat when the eRoadRacing series evaporated. What kept some of the competition alive was the TT Zero at the Isle of Man, and the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb event in Colorado. For example Lightning Motorcycle won Pikes Peak in 2013, beating the entire motorcycle field by over 20 seconds.

Several university teams also developed exciting electric race bikes. The team at The Ohio State University ran bikes at both the TT Zero and Pikes Peaks events for several years. The Univ of Nottingham is still doing so, in 2019 they raced at both events.

Press releases for the first MotoE race

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Tuuli takes first ever MotoE™ win after a tight battle at the top

The Finnish rider got the better of Bradley Smith and Mike Di Meglio in a stunning debut race for the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup

Niki Tuuli (Ajo MotoE) has taken the first ever win in the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup, converting the first E-Pole into victory as the Cup kicked off in style in Germany. A Red Flag on the penultimate lap brought the race to an early end but it was a stunning spectacle throughout, with Bradley Smith (One Energy Racing) taking second and Mike Di Meglio (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) completing the podium.

It was Hector Garzo (Tech 3 E-Racing) who took the holeshot from second on the grid, with Smith up to his old MotoGP™ class tricks to get a stunning launch from P7 and move into second, round the outside of polesitter Tuuli. Garzo then headed wide and Smith took over in the lead, with Tuuli also a little off line and that letting Di Meglio through into third. Xavier Simeon (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) then picked the pocket of the Finn too, and the polesitter was down into fifth.

He soon set about hitting back, however, slicing through into fourth and then third as Di Meglio attacked Smith at the front, taking the lead. The trio were pulling away to make the fight for the podium a three-way affair, leaving Garzo battling Matteo Ferrari (Trentino Gresini MotoE) for fourth and Alex de Angelis (Octo Pramac MotoE) defending from Simeon.

With six to go, Smith struck back for the lead and it wasn’t long until Tuuli moved through too, tagged onto the back wheel of the Brit and recovery from a tougher first couple of laps almost complete. A lap later he made a move but Smith took him back at the final corner, and the two blasted down the start-finish straight in tandem.

Tuuli set it up and attacked again into Turn 1, the Finnish rider back in charge and slowly but surely able to get just enough breathing space to stay out the clutches of Smith. Meanwhile, just behind, Garzo had managed to tag onto the battle for second. But drama then hit slightly further back as Eric Granado (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) came together with Lorenzo Savadori and the Italian went down, and ultimately that would decide the race.

Savadori was up and ok, but the air fence took a hit from the bike and that meant the Red Flag came out, cutting the race short. With the standings based on the last lap over the line, that made Niki Tuuli the history-making first ever winner in the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup.

Bradley Smith took second ahead of Di Meglio, with the Frenchman having only just attacked him for P2 but that now null and void. Garzo was forced to settle for fourth, with Ferrari completing the top five.

Alex De Angelis got the better of Xavier Simeon and took P6, with Eric Granado recovering from well outside the top ten after getting caught out in an early melee and the Brazilian taking P8. Sete Gibernau (Join Contract Pons 40) was ninth at the head of a big gaggle of riders squabbling over the final two places in the top ten, ahead of Nico Terol (Openbank Angel Nieto Team), Mattia Casadei (Ongetta SIC58 Squadra Corse), Niccolo Canepa (LCR E-Team), Jesko Raffin (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Kenny Foray (Tech 3 E-Racing). Josh Hook (Octo Pramac MotoE) completed the points.

That’s it from the inaugural weekend for the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup, with Tuuli the first ever winner and therefore our first Championship leader. How will Austria shake it up? The Sachsenring is about corners, and the Red Bull Ring is much more stop-and-go. Tune in on the 11th August for Round 2!

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Niki Tuuli: “I’m really happy, already after the first test we knew the bike was going to fit for me, but every time we’ve gone but we’ve been close to the top three and that’s the main thing, and especially here in the fast corners I’ve been really good and I think that’s where yesterday I made the laptime as well.

“On Friday and Saturday we had good speed and I know the places where I’m quite a lot faster at the moment. In the race because the weather is quite difficult we didn’t know where were the wet patches on track and we made the bike softer. Then straightaway when we started the race and I hit the brakes at Turn 1 I hit the bottom and knew it was too soft. After that I tried to keep the riding quite soft for the first two laps and after that I tried to push a bit and find out where it was working or not. I made a couple of mistakes when I was pushing too much, but in the end I made a small gap. We have many thing to improve and unfortunately today we had a really short race. But in the end we were first all weekend so it’s a good start to the year!”



More, from a press release issued by Energica:

NIKI TUULI POWERS HIS EGO CORSA TO WIN THE FIRST-EVER MOTOE RACE AT THE SACHSENRING

The inaugural race of the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup at the Sachsenring saw a hard-fought battle for the win with four riders involved at the front. Yesterday’s E-Pole winnerNiki Tuuli came out on top on his Ajo MotoE Energica Ego Corsa to edge Bradley Smith (One Energy Racing) and Mike Di Meglio (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), with Tech3 E-Racing’s Hector Garzo in fourth place.

“Words cannot express how excited I was to finally see the inaugural race of the FIM MotoE World Cup!” said Energica CEO Livia Cevolini. “Our Energica Ego Corsa machines, ridden by these incredibly talented riders, stole the show today and I cannot wait for the second race to begin. We are extremely happy with how the weekend unfolded and with the performance of the bikes – and so are the riders, given the great feedback we received in the official press conference. It is now time to return to our headquarters in Modena to start the preparations for the next event. A huge thank you goes to all the parties involved, our shareholders, everyone at Energica who worked day and night to make all this possible – and of course to all the fans, who showed an amazing amount of support!”

Under mixed conditions due to the overnight rain (the race was called ‘wet’ by Race Direction), it was former MotoGP star Bradley Smith who led the way as the MotoE field entered turn one. The experienced Briton tried to pull away but was eventually caught and passed by Mike Di Meglio. The two exchanged positions several times and that allowed pole setter Niki Tuuli to bridge the gap to the front, with Garzo, Matteo Ferrari (Team Trentino Gresini), Alex De Angelis (OCTO Pramac MotoE) and Xavier Simeon (Avintia Esponsorama) – who finished in the same order as the race drew to a close – not far behind.

As the laps went by, the first three would take in turns at the front while building a gap with the chasing pack. It was all setting up for a thrilling finale, but unfortunately a collision between front-row starter Eric Granado (Avintia Esponsorama) and Lorenzo Savadori (Team Trentino Gresini) on lap five led to a crash for the latter and ultimately to a premature end to the race due to a Red Flag.

The standings at the end of lap five determined the final classification. With Granado in eighth place, the top-ten was completed by MotoGP icon Sete Gibernau (Join Contract Pons 40) and Nico Terol (OpenBank Angel Nieto Team).

Energica and the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup will return to action in a little over a month at the Red Bull Ring in Austria for round two (9-11 August).



More, from a press release issued by Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS:

Di Meglio powers to brilliant, historic MotoE podium

Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Mike di Meglio battles to a superb third place in the shortened first round of the MotoE World Cup at the Sachsenring.

Starting the first MotoE World Cup race in history from fourth on the grid, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS’ Mike Di Meglio made an excellent start to finish the first lap in second position.

The 2008 125cc World Champion was involved in an all-action four-rider fight for the victory with Niki Tuuli, Bradley Smith and Hector Garzo in the seven-lap race.

Having conserved his rear tyre in the opening laps, Di Meglio had just passed Smith for second on lap six when the race was stopped due to a crash for Lorenzo Savadori.

Results were decided on the leaderboard after lap five, demoting the Frenchman to third.

Mike Di Meglio

3rd, + 0.567s.

“It was as I planned, I am really happy with that podium”

“It was as I planned. I wanted to do a really good first lap and I ended it in second position. I got a good start and braked very late into the first turn but I saw a lot of riders on my inside. I said, ‘Mike, keep your speed!’ After that I was fighting with Niki and Bradley while trying to manage the rear tyre because it would help me at the end of the race. The tyre was sliding a lot but I think it was because of this cold temperature. I planned to pass Bradley because I saw he was quite a bit quicker. Then when I did that I saw the red flag. But sometimes racing is like that. It was quite good. It was quite good, I am really happy with that historic podium.”

Joan Olivé

Team manager

“All weekend Mike showed good potential and very good rhythm”

“We are very happy to start the new MotoE category with a podium. All weekend Mike showed good potential and very good rhythm. Unfortunately the race was stopped early but I think Mike did a good job with the tyres, saving them for the end. Anyway it’s a good result. We don’t have so many races in this series so it’s good to stay on the podium.”



More, from a press release issued by Octo Pramac Racing:

#MotoE #GermanGP RACE. P6 Alex De Angelis: “I had a great time”. P15 Josh Hook: “Positive feelings during the race”.

The first race in the history of #MotoE took place today at the Sachsenring circuit. It was a historic event in the world of two wheels with 18 riders and the Energica Ego Corsa fighting until the red flag stopped the race two laps from the end due to the crash of Salvadori.

Alex De Angelis, who started from ninth place, immediately recovered two positions at the first corner and then engaged in an exciting duel with Simeon to finish in sixth position.

Josh Hook started from sixteenth position and managed in the first laps to gain two positions then finishing 15th.

P6 – Alex De Angelis

“I had a great time. At the first corner I chose to brake and stay inside and it was a good tactic because it allowed me to recover some positions. The duel with Simeon made me lose contact with the leading group but it was really exciting”.

P15 – Josh Hook

“The feeling with the bike grew during the race. It was very important to be with the peloton on a circuit where I raced on Friday for the first time. It wasn’t a particularly satisfying weekend but we have to take the positive side and improve”.



More, from a press release issued by LCR E-Team:

LCR E-TEAM RIDERS COMPLETE THE INAUGURAL MOTOE RACE

The FIM Enel MotoE World Cup is now officially underway, with the first race completed at the Sachsenring. The race was officially meant to run for 8 laps, though was reduced to 7 laps at the start due to the wet conditions. The race was red flagged due to a crash that damaged the air fence, so the result given is the running order as of lap 5.

Another issue riders had to contend with was the weather, with the race officially declared as wet. Both practice sessions and the E-pole session ran in warm, dry conditions, so there was an added challenge of adapting to the bike on the wet track.

For LCR E-Team rider Niccolò Canepa, contact on the first lap pushed him further down the rankings, though he rode well to put himself back into the top 10 at the time the race was red flagged. As the result was given from lap 5, he officially finished 12th. For Randy de Puniet, the Frenchman is still struggling to gain confidence and the correct feeling on his Energica bike, especially following the bad crash he suffered at the Valencia test. The riders both look forward to gaining more experience on the bike and hopefully improving in future races.

Randy De Puniet – 17th

“It was not an easy race – since the beginning of the weekend, as I’ve explained before, I have zero feeling and I’m not confident after crashing in Valencia. I really hoped to get some more confidence and speed during the race, but it was not the case. I’m sorry to the team and the sponsors but I was not able to do better today. I hope after the break I will feel better on the bike so we will see for the next race.”

Niccolò Canepa – 12th

“I’m really upset because I had contact in the first lap – I was in 8th place and was put back to 14th place. I was coming back into the top 10 and was 10th when the red flag came out but they gave the results from the previous lap so I was actually 12th in the results. I feel frustrated because I think this time a 5-lap race is too short.”



More, from a press release issued by One Energy Racing:

Historic second place for Smith and ONE Energy Racing in first MotoE race

Bradley Smith finishes on the podium at Sachsenring in the first round of the MotoE World Cup, leading the race for several laps.

2nd BRADLEY SMITH +0.442

ONE Energy Racing and Bradley Smith became part of history in the MotoE World Cup by finishing on the class’ first ever podium. The British rider claimed a great second position after starting from the third row of the grid, as well as managing to lead a race that ended prematurely due to a red flag.

Smith made a great start from seventh place, was second into the first corner and quickly got to the front of the race – reduced to seven laps due to a delay in getting underway. The ONE Energy Racing rider continued in the fight for victory, leading on several occasions. With two laps remaining, a crash for another rider resulted in a red flag, ending the race ahead of time and giving Smith second place.

After this result, Smith is second in the overall standings with 20 points, 5 off the top spot. The next round of the MotoE World Cup will be the Austrian GP on August 9th to 11th.

Matteo Ballarin – Team Principal

“We are very happy. Bradley [Smith] had a great race, with a fantastic start. Yesterday’s E-Pole did not turn out as we had hoped, but Bradley is a very special rider and today he provided a great performance. The whole team worked very well during this first weekend. We can continue to improve ahead of the next race, but we had a great first weekend here in Germany. Finishing on the podium at the first round is a very positive result. The MotoE World Cup is a new adventure, and there are many things still to be discovered. It is all really exciting.”

#38 Bradley Smith

“I’m very happy to have got on the podium at this first MotoE World Cup race with ONE Energy Racing. Yesterday I was somewhat disappointed with my result in E-Pole, but I still knew that if I got a good start I could be in the fight in the race.

I managed to get a very good start and lead the race, so that was nice. I couldn’t be a part of the race simulation in Valencia, so I was lacking some knowledge of what the contest was going to be like, but I learned a lot today. It was only five laps, but I know where I can improve for the next round in Austria.

The race was exciting, so that’s good for the show and for the competition. I want to thank the team; they changed the bike from yesterday to today and did a great job.”



More, from a press release issued by Tech3 E-Racing:

Hard fought MotoE debut for Garzo and Foray in Germany

Following some rain, the first race of the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup was declared wet and shortened to seven laps today, although the Sachsenring track already dried out.

Thereby, Tech3 E-Racing’s Hector Garzo came off the line perfectly and lead the field to the first corner. Involved in a hard fight for the podium, the Spanish rider planned to attack towards the end of the race, but was fourth when the red flag came out after five completed laps. Meanwhile, Kenny Foray was progressing from P14 to P12 in the course of the last lap, battled for the points scoring positions and found himself in 14th when the race was declared completed.

Hector Garzo

Position: 4th

Championship: 4th

Points: 13

“Unfortunately, it was a difficult race and not the result we have hoped for. I was waiting for the last two laps. Just the moment before the red flag, I was thinking about my overtake. But well, this is racing. You never know, that this is going to happen. Anyway, I’m happy because we four riders finished with a great time. For sure, I would have been a bit more satisfied to get a podium in the first MotoE race, but still our work is good and we know we are strong in every condition. Thanks a lot to the team, we did a really good job and for the first MotoE race of the history, it’s not bad. We must be happy. I’m looking forward to Austria now, keep calm and work hard.”

Kenny Foray

Position: 14th

Championship: 14th

Points: 2

“It was a good race. The result is not, what I expected, but my feeling was better. Now, I need to be more aggressive in the race, because two times, I decided to stay behind the guys in front of me and two times, somebody overtook me. So, I need to push all the time. I was really good on the brakes, but I couldn’t take full advantage of this. My feeling on the bike was good, it was great fun. The result is not ideal, but now I need to improve for the next race. I was a good experience for me and I’m happy, although I was hoping for a few more points. I’m sure for Austria, we will be better.”

Hervé Poncharal

Team Manager

“Finally, we saw our first MotoE race here in Sachsenring. We were very happy with our Qualifying with Hector in the front row and Kenny having a decent Qualifying too. When we saw rain this morning, we were a bit worried, but finally the track dried and we had a very good race. Hector had a fantastic start, because he was leading at the first turn. We could see that there was a battle of four riders and Hector was right inside that fight, waiting for the last two laps to eventually make a move, but unfortunately, we had a red flag that stopped the race with two laps to go. It was a pity, because I think our strategy was working until then. Hector was right behind that group, trying to save the tyres, but because the air fence was broken, you have to red flag the race, so I absolutely understand the decision of the race direction. This time, it didn’t play in our favor. Anyway, we soon have another chance to show what we can do in Red Bull Ring. So, all together it was a good weekend for Tech3 E-Racing. I think also Kenny understood a lot of things, especially that a sprint race is not what he is used to in endurance, so he’s going to get better and better. Hector is quite frustrated right now, so he will be willing to change and be on the podium next time. Overall, a good round one. I think it was a great show and it’s a proper class in our championship.”

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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