Motorcycles

Third consecutive triumph for Mugen at the 2016 TT Zero

Third consecutive triumph for ...
Bruce Anstey on the Mugen Shinden Go during the 2016 SES TT Zero
Bruce Anstey on the Mugen Shinden Go during the 2016 SES TT Zero
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The 2016 SES TT Zero podium, featuring from left to right Daley Mathison (University of Nottingham), Bruce Anstey (Team Mugen) and William Dunlop (Victory/Parker Racing)
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The 2016 SES TT Zero podium, featuring from left to right Daley Mathison (University of Nottingham), Bruce Anstey (Team Mugen) and William Dunlop (Victory/Parker Racing)
William Dunlop en course to the 2016 SES TT Zero second place with the Victory RR
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William Dunlop en course to the 2016 SES TT Zero second place with the Victory RR
Team Saroléa Racing started impressively, but was forced to sit out the race due to technical problems
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Team Saroléa Racing started impressively, but was forced to sit out the race due to technical problems
The brand new Victory RR was unveiled just a few weeks before the 2016 SES TT Zero race
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The brand new Victory RR was unveiled just a few weeks before the 2016 SES TT Zero race
The 2016 SES TT Zero podium, featuring from left to right William Dunlop (Victory/Parker Racing), Bruce Anstey (Team Mugen) and Daley Mathison (University of Nottingham)
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The 2016 SES TT Zero podium, featuring from left to right William Dunlop (Victory/Parker Racing), Bruce Anstey (Team Mugen) and Daley Mathison (University of Nottingham)
Daley Mathison aboard the electric racer developed by the University of Nottingham managed a podium finish and missed the 100-mph lap by a hair
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Daley Mathison aboard the electric racer developed by the University of Nottingham managed a podium finish and missed the 100-mph lap by a hair
Team Mugen fielded an extensively updated Shinden Go electric superbike to take another win
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Team Mugen fielded an extensively updated Shinden Go electric superbike to take another win
John Mc Guinness was leading the 2016 SES TT Zero when his bike accidentally stalled after a jump
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John Mc Guinness was leading the 2016 SES TT Zero when his bike accidentally stalled after a jump
Daley Mathison (University of Nottingham) found himself quite unexpectedly on the podium of the 2016 SES TT Zero
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Daley Mathison (University of Nottingham) found himself quite unexpectedly on the podium of the 2016 SES TT Zero
John Mc Guinness on the Mugen Shinden Go during the 2016 SES TT Zero
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John Mc Guinness on the Mugen Shinden Go during the 2016 SES TT Zero
Bruce Anstey on his way to victory at the 2016 SES TT Zero
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Bruce Anstey on his way to victory at the 2016 SES TT Zero
William Dunlop on the Victory RR during the 2016 SES TT Zero
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William Dunlop on the Victory RR during the 2016 SES TT Zero
William Dunlop on the Victory RR during the 2016 SES TT Zero
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William Dunlop on the Victory RR during the 2016 SES TT Zero
Lee Johnston (left) and Dean Harrison (right) in the Saroléa Racing tent, when things were still looking very promising for the Belgian team
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Lee Johnston (left) and Dean Harrison (right) in the Saroléa Racing tent, when things were still looking very promising for the Belgian team
Bruce Anstey on the Mugen Shinden Go during the 2016 SES TT Zero
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Bruce Anstey on the Mugen Shinden Go during the 2016 SES TT Zero

Having dominated the electric superbike class since 2014, Team Mugen has returned to the top step of the 2016 TT Zero podium with Bruce Anstey. Victory Racing followed with a close second in front of University of Nottingham's motorcycle, as technical problems prevented Saroléa Racing from competing.

This year's SES TT Zero Challenge was expected to be the most exciting ever. The Japanese Team Mugen returned to the Isle of Man (IoM) with a heavily updated Shinden Go electric superbike, going up against Victory Racing's new and more powerful version of the Empulse RR bike, now called Victory RR.

What is perhaps more important than the evolution of the motorcycle itself is that Victory's star rider, William Dunlop, was in full health – unlike last year, when he was replaced at the last minute by Guy Martin after he was injured during Supersport practice.

Team Saroléa Racing was also a force to be reckoned with, fielding the SP7 motorcycle in its latest, most powerful form. The two-rider outfit was looking to lap above the 120 mph average speed mark. But things don't always go as planned.

William Dunlop on the Victory RR during the 2016 SES TT Zero
William Dunlop on the Victory RR during the 2016 SES TT Zero

The first practice session of the class seemed to support the prospect of a very competitive race, as Mugen's riders were lapping in the 117-118 mph bracket, closely followed by Victory's single rider. Saroléa's Lee Johnston was up there as well, managing a 115 mph lap on the first practice session on June 3; quite the achievement considering that last year the Belgian team had finished the race in fifth place with a 106.5 mph lap.

Things started to go awry for Saroléa during qualifying, as both its bikes ran into technical problems. In the end the team's riders, Lee Johnston and Dean Harrison, did not take part in the race. So far there is no official statement from the team as to what hampered its effort.

Come race day, a thick morning fog covered large parts of the Isle of Man and caused minor delays, but by midday everything was back on track. The start of the TT Zero saw Mugen's John Mc Guinness lead the small electric pack, ready to repeat his winning performance of 2014 and 2015. Arriving at Ballacrye at full speed, his Shinen Go jumped over a crest of the road – as all IoM racers inescapably do there – but when he landed his engine stalled.

John Mc Guinness was leading the 2016 SES TT Zero when his bike accidentally stalled after a jump
John Mc Guinness was leading the 2016 SES TT Zero when his bike accidentally stalled after a jump

"As the bike landed at Ballacrye, it stopped," said Mc Guinness after the race. "I pulled up at Quarry Bends and started pushing the buttons to get it going again. I had landed on the emergency button under the seat and shut it off. One of the marshals, or a spectator said press it. I did and got going – it was just not my day, having broken down in the 600 race and after all of the work the team had done for this race I am so disappointed."

It was Bruce Anstey that profited from his team mate's misfortune. Following just 3.4 seconds behind him, he took over the lead and was never again threatened by any other rider until the checkered flag.

William Dunlop crossed the line 25 seconds later with his Victory RR, while third place unexpectedly went to Daley Mathison aboard the electric racer built by the University of Nottingham. The latter arrived on the podium having significantly improved his team's performance with a 99.884 mph lap. Last year this team managed 73.156 mph for sixth place, with Michael Sweeney riding the experimental racer.

Daley Mathison aboard the electric racer developed by the University of Nottingham managed a podium finish and missed the 100-mph lap by a hair
Daley Mathison aboard the electric racer developed by the University of Nottingham managed a podium finish and missed the 100-mph lap by a hair

John Mc Guinness came in fourth with a 94.989 mph lap as a result of the time he spent trying to restart his bike. Fifth and last position went to Brunel University's Allann Venter, who posted a 94.628 mph lap.

Prior to the race the electric superbikes were expected to exceed the 120 mph mark, but unfortunately the turn of events disproved these predictions. Anstey admittedly decided to relax his pace when he passed by his stalled team mate, and the fact that no other rider threatened him translated to a 118.416 mph winning lap; a tad slower than last year's 119.279 mph average speed posted by Mc Guinness.

The promising news is that, apart from Team Mugen, all other motorcycles posted considerably improved performances. Victory Racing's motorcycle boosted last year's 111.620 mph to 115.844, Brunel's bike that hadn't finished the race in 2015 now closes in to the 100 mph lap, while the unfortunate Saroléa Racing team had already done a lot better than last year during practice.

The 2016 SES TT Zero podium, featuring from left to right Daley Mathison (University of Nottingham), Bruce Anstey (Team Mugen) and William Dunlop (Victory/Parker Racing)
The 2016 SES TT Zero podium, featuring from left to right Daley Mathison (University of Nottingham), Bruce Anstey (Team Mugen) and William Dunlop (Victory/Parker Racing)

What the TT Zero needs is more competitors. If a field of three professional and two university teams can push laptimes from 87.4 mph (Team Agni in 2009) to almost 120 mph in just six years, we can imagine that with factories such as Lightning, Zero and Energica in the mix competition could heat up exponentially.

Also we shouldn't disregard the fact that all the top TT Zero riders race the electric class on the side, as most of them have their main focus in the Superbike and Supersport races. McGuinness, Anstey, Johnston and Harrison had contested the Supersport race just a few hours before the TT Zero and had very limited testing time on their electric racers.

Despite the 2016 TT Zero proving to be less competitive than last year, the fact that electric sportbikes are rapidly approaching the performance standards of the traditional petrol bikes doesn't seem to have changed at all.

5 comments
mhpr262
The next participant might well be BMW - they have alreay shown an electrified prototype of the S1000RR, after all.
Daishi
I think Victory is the only company competing that makes a production electric bike. Zero could compete in theory but they are already the established market leader for electric. It would probably bring useful R&D for them but they probably wouldn't want to show up and lose to Victory either. If they didn't want to have their own direct team they could always collaborate with a university. I think Zero has a relatively small engineering team and they could use an IoM partnership to model a fairing design and experiment with thermal management. With the university offering a lot of the engineering and budget it might be a good opportunity for them. It simplifies the process of finding talent to hire later too. Electric cars are starting to pick up mainstream acceptance but electric motorcycles have a bit to go before they are viable for most people. The Zero SR with a fairing to improve highway range would be about the closest thing on the market to viable right now.
JustinAndrews
I don't think Zero have ever shown an interest in fielding an electric team to be honest. So any Zero SR at the TT would likely be a privater team. Be awesome to see an SR running in the TT though.
snave
I think a little bit of hype crept into that report. The Superbikes are doing 132-133mph laps - and six of them for a race. Supersports bikes are averaging over 120 mph for four. Yes, you can compare `standing start` one lap times but that's not a race, it's a parade and all the other races involve multiple laps and refuelling... The leccy's are an interesting diversion, but it will be better when there are more of them, they are near-100% reliable, and can race for the same distance as the ICE machines. Should be around 2030 based on current developments. Until then, they are not `approaching` the performance standards of even the Lightweight TT contenders (the 650 twins that also manage four laps).
GaryOwens
A kill switch under the seat that can be activated by sitting heavily ??? Some designer somewhere is going to get shouted at.........