Podium finish!

Electric Motorbike at TT

Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground supported Kingston University’s electric racing motorcycle team has taken its first podium finish at the Isle of Man TT Races despite drama just before the start.  With just minutes to the off, a crucial dashboard display failed.  But with a digital volt meter taped to the handlebars, rider George Spence raced from 5th to 4th before claiming 3rd place in the SES Zero TT event run over the famous 37.739-mile mountain circuit.

On challenging Manx roads, closed to normal traffic, Spence beat the highly-fancied BMW electric racer to become the fastest university-based rider.  Only the two ‘works’ Segway Racing MotoCzysz machines from America – long-time pace-setters in the relatively new sport of electric motorcycle racing – finished ahead of the Kingston team, which tests its design developments at Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground.

Team technical director, Paul Brandon, said the moment the dashboard display failed was heart-stopping.  “This display is critical to give the rider the information he needs to enable him to push the bike to the limit, but still have enough energy left in the batteries to finish the race.  We had to quickly connect a digital volt meter and tape it to the bike with a set of voltages that would at least give George some idea of the battery capacity he had.  It was not ideal, but this is racing and you have to adapt!

“We were the 7th bike to go out and George had instructions to overtake at will and to run with the two MotoCzysz bikes at the front,” said Paul.  “At the first timing point he was 5th and by the second he was 4th, so all was going well.   At the Sulby speed trap he was clocked at 120mph and had picked up another place at the next timing point.  He held the position and came in a triumphant 3rd crossing the finish line at 127mph – 15mph faster than the next-quickest.

“We all ran to congratulate George and discovered that he still had 25% left in the batteries!  This meant that If we hadn’t had the dashboard problem he could have been running the same times as the MotoCzysz bikes – very frustrating…  But at least we know the bike will perform to its design specification and the Americans now realise that we are a real threat.  In three years of the Zero TT we have progressed from a did-not-finish to a 5th place and now 3rd and the first step of the podium.  It was great to see George spraying the champagne.”

Paul Atkin, general manager of business development at Bruntingthorpe, said everyone at the proving ground was delighted to see the Kingston team step onto the podium.  “As a company we wholeheartedly embrace zero-emissions and all that it entails.  That’s why we decided, right from the inception of the Kingston team, to support these young engineering students who are working on concepts and machines that will shape the future of transportation.

“Had it not been for the technical glitch just before the start, who knows what the result might have been?  It cannot be long before Kingston chalk up their first outright race win and take the top step of the podium.”