Just a couple weeks after our race with CRA at Laguna Seca, we were back at the iconic track for a fun weekend of racing with the AHRMA series. If you haven't read Part I yet - hit this link and then come back to pick up where we left off.
Being the nation's premier historic racing organization, AHRMA events feature a diversity of motorcycles on track is unparalleled. If you've ever been to the Monterey Historic car races at Laguna Seca, it's kind of like that, but with bikes and moto people. There are classes for hand shift Indians, little CB160s, Sidecars, and yep - even electric motorcycles. There's a "Fomula Lightning" class for production electric bikes under 125Vdc and a "Formula Lightning Extreme" class for bikes above 125Vdc, like the Lightfighter, Energica, and most prototype electric race bikes. They specifically keep the modern 4-stroke Japanese and European race machines out, but have what is essentially an "open" class for big twins called Sound of Thunder 1 and Formula Thunder, so all flavors of Ducatis through the most recent Paniagle V2s come out en masse to compete. Outside of the Isle of Man residents, I've never met a group of people that appreciate motorcycles in all their flavors than those that show up to race or support the AHRMA paddock. 5 stars - highly recommend.
Like our previous race with CRA, we split the cost of a garage for the weekend with racer friends and used the two available 208/30A outlets to charge the two Lightfighters.
Nick had a travel delay getting to the track and missed all of Friday's practice, but made up for lost time quickly and got on with picking up where he left off dropping huge chunks of time each time out on the bike, running his best of a 1:40.9 in the SOT2 race on Saturday. He had some great battles with the team from Zero Motorcycles, Energica, and several Kramer riders over the weekend coming away with the win in the Formula Lightning Extreme class both days and finishing in the top half of the 30+ strong field for SOT2. Oh yeah... he showed up Saturday morning without a battery in his bike and we accomplished our first at track battery installation within minutes, but I'll save that for another blog post.
After Troy's tip over in Turn 2 at the previous event, I had just enough time to get the trick carbon fiber fairing pieces down to Paul Taylor for a repair, but ran out of time to get the fairing re-wrapped in it's signature orange "paint-job". I improvised, and I think it turned out OK. I also fitted a taller version of the windscreen to give Troy better coverage in a tuck down the front straight.
Thankfully, there were no more crashes this weekend and the fact that AHRMA runs a repeat schedule of races on Saturday and Sunday gave us plenty of racing to do with Troy running the Lightfighter in the SOT1 and Formula Thunder gas classes (with special approval from the race director).
We had Bobby Loo of Motorrev Suspension Tuning in our corner again this weekend and we ended up making a spring rate change on the front end (going slightly stiffer) as well as a valving change on the rear to help the bike squat more and load the tire better under initial throttle. We were also still adapting the overall setup to the switch to Pirellis from the previous race. We're running Pirelli's new 190 rear tire which is taking a bit more effort to get to work for us vs. the typical 180/60 we've been running.
Troy was in good form for the weekend and brought home a 4th place in finish (from 20) in Sunday's SOT1 race behind 3 fast Ducatis. He also snagged a 5th in Saturday's Formula Thunder race against many of those same Ducatis, a Moto2 styled Triumph 675, and a MotoAmerica prepped Aprilia RS660. It was cool to watch Troy and the Lightfighter mix it up with such a varied field of competitor bikes and skill levels. We didn't quite reach what we feel is our true potential on lap times, posting a 1:36.9 best, but it was still a great weekend with a strong result that proved, once again, that the Lightfighter can fight with some of the fastest gas powered race bikes out there. We'll keep working on the set-up and chasing that last little bit of feeling we're missing that's keeping us from running top 3 pace (typically in the 1:32s-1:33s). We're going to need it when we throw back in with the (seriously quick) AFM racers in October for the closing round of their season.
While Troy's bright red Alpinestars suit made him easy to spot, we were excited to get word during the event that his replacement custom Lightfighter suit would be ready for the next and final event of the season. There were so many good photos of the on track action from Etech Photos, I just dropped them into a gallery below for your viewing pleasure...
It's worth mentioning that Troy had some great rides on his personal Kramer bike as well, taking the little single cylinder up against much larger displacement bikes and coming away with 2 wins in Sound of Singles 1 and two 4th place finishes in Sound of Thunder 2 (same class Nick ran his Lightfighter in).
We had 9 electric bikes on the grid for this race! 2 Lightfighters, 3 Zero SR/Ss, 1 Zero SR/F (Kenyon Kluge's factory Superhooligans bike), 2 Energica Egos, and a highly modified Brammo Empulse that was the first bike I called "Lightfighter", now owned by Richard Illman.
Beside a great crew of racers in the garage and fantastic support from our friends and families, we were also blessed to have Josh Alvarez and his father hang-out and capture some truly awesome "behind the scenes" photos of life in the garage. I love these as they remind me that this adventure is about more than just what happens out on track... it's about the amazing people we get to meet and the challenges we rise to overcome throughout the weekend...
We came, we saw, we raced, we won some battles, lost others. We'll keep pushing to do better and go faster, but it was great to show, once again, that electrics belong in the race paddock and the future looks bright. As always, thanks to our sponsors, families, friends, and those that read this blog for your continued support of our program!
"I don't know where I'm goin', but I sure know where I've been." - Whitesnake