An all-electric motorbike race is coming to Moto GP
Grand Prix motorcycle racing plans to include a new all-electric category in 2019. This great new adventure focuses less on engines; it will be simpler and focuses on batteries to reach speeds of 200 Km/h.
18 drivers, 10 laps, 100% photovoltaic energy, no pit stops, no charging: these are the conditions recently proposed by Carmelo Ezpeleta, head of Dorna (the company that organises the World Motorcycle Championship), for the incorporation of electric bikes into Moto GP. The new race will be the 2-wheel version of the Formula E, however, batteries will not be charged and motorcycles will not be changed half way through the race. At the moment, the race will be limited to 10 frenetic laps, in which only the speed, the ability of the drivers on the tarmac and the power and autonomy offered by the batteries for the relatively simple electric motors, will be taken into account.
Jerez will be the first race, coinciding with the Spain GP in 2019. This will be followed by the other four races on the grand prix support bill. There are already four manufacturers interested in developing the first motorcycles for the various teams, explained Ezpeleta. The head of Dorna is also encouraging independent Moto GP teams to join the championship and confirmed that there is room for new teams, as in the Formula E, with the extension to fully electric developers from the electric racing team.
Precedents: Isle of Man
The idea of allowing electric motorcycles to join the competition is not entirely new. It was already introduced, among other races, in the Isle of Man TT, under the name or category of TT Zero Race in 2010 and has formed part of its programme since then. The TT Zero circuit on the Isle of Man, requires a classification of approximately 30 minutes to cover a 60.7 km circuit, which means travelling at an average speed of 121.44 km/h. The first electric winner in 2010, completed the circuit at an average speed of 155.8 km/h and, in 2016, McGuinness broke the record for the fastest lap ever in 19 minutes, reaching an average speed of 192 km/h. As with the GP announced by Ezpeleta, the TT Zero motorcycles do not stop either and the main requirement is for them to be powered by 100% clean energy, but there are no forms of technical limitations. It should be said that there is an absence of safety on the Isle of Man, which cannot be said for the GP. A World Electric Motorcycle Championship has also been held since 2013, which has had a relative impact to date.
The great battery challenge
The races held to date, indicate that speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour can be reached and perhaps this may be increased in the future, as batteries become more advanced and motorcycles become better adapted to the spaces. Once again, the circuit will be a laboratory test to improve the motorcycles that will one day be seen on our streets as well. It would seem that the ten laps included at the moment could be increased as battery technology improves, together with the power that can be generated. Even the relatively simple motors are also being monitored to achieve maximum efficiency, as competitions have been held in the past to test three-phase motors together with the more conventional DC motors. As with the Formula E, each team and motorcycle will try out all the options and different formulas: systems that enable greater acceleration with regard to others with greater top speeds, enabling them to gain positions in the fastest sections, for example, are already being studied.
Higher top speeds and autonomies than expected
There are already motorcycles competing on the Isle of Man that develop up to 245 CV, capable of reaching 320 km/h and autonomies of 300 km, according to some brands, which clearly exceeds the 200 km/h announced by Ezpeleta in the GP. Although there are significant differences in terms of circuits, safety and limitations, the capacity of batteries is almost on a par with combustion engines. It remains to be seen how far the technological advances will have gone by 2019, but the truth is that the meteoric rise in electric vehicles (motorcycles, in this case) is so fast that it may even exceed the speed at which news is issued on the subject.