Victory Motorcycles is returning to the TT Zero at the Isle of Man with a new electric racer. After achieving a third place finish in its debut last year, the American team will field the 170-hp Victory RR superbike in an effort to reach the top of the podium.
The acquisition of Brammo from the Polaris Group meant a lot more for Victory than just the addition of a market-ready electric model. Brammo brought in a very strong R&D team in the field of electric motorcycles and also provided access to one of the best electric racing bikes, the Empulse RR. Victory didn't waste any time before unfolding its strategy, as the road legal Empulse was promptly added to the company's lineup, while the RR version of the electric streetbike equipped Victory Racing's TT Zero team.
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The electric class of the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy (TT) has been dominated since 2014 by the all-conquering Team Mugen. Victory joined the TT Zero last year with high hopes, a competent bike and two riders that know well how tackle the Mountain Course – five times podium finisher William Dunlop and Lee Johnston. However misfortune struck at the eleventh hour, as the team's main rider was injured during a Supersport practice session.
Victory's inaugural TT Zero participation did result in a third place finish courtesy of Johnston, while Dunlop's last-minute replacement rider, Guy Martin, managed to come in fourth despite having no testing time on the Empulse RR, nor any prior experience with electric motorcycles.
For its return to the 2016 TT Zero Victory has once again secured the expert services of William Dunlop. He will probably lead the team alone as no partner has been announced, while Lee Johnston will compete with Belgian team Sarolea.
The new Victory RR electric superbike is based on last year's Empulse RR, but a substantial overhaul has almost completely transformed the motorcycle. The most obvious change is the application of a steel trellis frame in place of the aluminum twin spar that was used until last year – and is still found on the production model.
It's under the hood where things get very interesting with a significant power hike from 150 (112 kW) to 174 hp (130 kW). This is actually the kind of power that the Empulse RR was making at the 2013 TTXGP world championship, before being detuned in order to last the Mountain Course's grueling 37.73 miles (60.72 km) race distance. With the help of its partner Parker Hannifin, Victory has restored the Parker GVM liquid-cooled electric motor to its former glory – a feat that obviously required more battery power.
"The newly developed battery leverages the lessons learned from our entry in last year's TT Zero event," says Brian Wismann, Victory Racing team manager. "The battery is a ground-up new design with the help of our technical partners at Brammo and necessitated a big change in the chassis design – from an extruded aluminum twin spar to a steel trellis frame. The biggest difference in the battery itself is an improvement in both the overall energy / capacity we're carrying on board the bike, as well as a marked improvement in the energy density of the battery itself. As you know, lithium-ion battery technology is improving every year and with the Victory RR we are leading the way to batteries that will provide more performance, greater range and less cost in future vehicles."
Weighing-in at 529 lb (240 kg) and producing a maximum torque of 240 Nm (177 lb-ft), the Victory RR can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in under three seconds, with a top speed around 160 mph (257 km/h).
Practice sessions for the TT Zero will start on June 3, and the single-lap race is scheduled for June 8. Once again the class favorites are Team Mugen's two brand new 163-hp Shinden Go superbikes, ridden by Isle of Man legend John Mc Guinness and Bruce Anstey. These two held the top two positions of the electric race for both 2014 and 2015, so Victory will have to fight fiercely if it's to improve on last year's result.
Source: Victory MotorcyclesView gallery - 6 images