Electric MotoGP class to race the Energica Ego in 2019
MotoGP will get its own electric motorcycle class for 2019 in the form of a single make Moto-e race based on production streetbikes. And now we know what the bikes will be based on: the Energica Ego, a 145-horsepower, 570-lb Italian sports machine capable of 150 mph.
Moto-e is conceived as a single-make class that focuses on trying to generate close and entertaining racing, rather than pushing electric motorcycle development by pitting different manufacturers against one another like the TT Zero.
Yesterday, Dorna announced that Italian brand Energica has been chosen to supply the bikes.
The US$25,000 Energica Ego is far from the fastest electric motorcycle going around. Its 145-horsepower, 147 lb-ft motor is good for a top speed around 240 km/h (150 mph) in road trim, which pales in comparison to, for example, Lightning's LS-218 superbike, which was measured years ago at 218 miles per hour, and has gained a substantial amount of power in the interim.
But the Lightning is proving slow to manufacture and expensive to sell, coming in around US$38,000, and the company has not yet managed to set up an international dealership network. Energica has done substantially better getting a product out there, with a growing list of dealerships across Europe, Scandinavia, Israel and both coasts of the United States.
The Ego in road trim weighs in around 258 kg (570 lbs), so it's a bit of a barge compared to the featherweight MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 class bikes. But there's definitely weight to be saved, and one area Dorna is prepared to look at is the stock bike's battery, which at 11.7 kWh may end up being more than the race bikes need.
Adding the Moto-e class to the GP calendar may end up having additional benefits for electric racing, as MotoGP CEO Carmelo Ezpelita has spoken in the past of building solar charging stations at the circuits the Moto-e bikes will race at. Such charging stations will presumably be very handy for any other electric bike riders that use the facilities.
As a modified production class based on a fairly heavy streetbike, it's fair to guess that Moto-e won't threaten the lap times of any of the GP classes. And as a single-make class, there'll be little in terms of development to make things exciting in a technological sense.
But perhaps an evenly matched field and some hopefully tight racing can help overcome the eerie quiet of an electric motorcycle race and spark (yuk yuk) some fan interest. There's no question in my mind that electric cars and motorcycles will soon be dominating their combustion counterparts on the racetrack, so we'd best learn to enjoy them, noisy or not.
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This will be an odd kind of racing. No pipes shouting back at the crowd. But I hope that at least the competitiveness of the Moto GP 1 class will be in this new Moto GP E class. There has been some brilliant racing to be seen on the track. I'm looking forward to it!