Dorna’s new MotoE category was sparked into life at Jerez over a three-day test but unfortunately half the sessions over the course of the extensive testing program were affected by adverse weather conditions.
It was only the initial taste for the fairly high-profile line up that has been put together for the inaugural MotoE season that will compete in the 5 races that will be staged in conjunction with selected MotoGP events in Europe across 2019.
Dorna has suggested that race distances will be around seven to ten laps in duration, which equates to around a third of that raced by the MotoGP category.
From their brief taste of the Energica supplied control bikes, teams are already suggesting that battery management and engine temperature control will be some of the key deciding factors that will decide the outcome of those races.
The first MotoE race will be staged at Jerez in May and will then go on to support the French Grand Prix at Lemans before heading to Sachsenring in July and the Red Bull Ring in August before the five-race series concludes at Misano as part of the San Marino Grand Prix.
At this test some riders are sharing a single bike across a two-rider team which, along with limited battery life and long recharge times, means that riders in some cases are only got a handful of laps in each day.
Bradley Smith (One Energy Racing) topped the timesheets on day two and lowered the new e-bike benchmark to 1m50.265, a marker that was not beaten on day three due to rain. In fact, no rider bettered their times on the third and final day of testing due to inclement weather.
Moto2 bikes were also on track overnight with their new Triumph engines and the top four all lapped in the 1m41s. As a gauge of relative performance, the top quartet of MotoE riders lapped in the 1m50s. With limited set-up time and familiarisation so far for the electric bikes, you would imagine that by mid-season next year that differential might perhaps half when progress really starts to be made.
Bradley Smith – P1 overall
“I’m very happy with the work we’ve done today. We set a fast lap in the morning session, and I’ve felt better and better with the bike. In the afternoon we had mixed conditions on track, and it was good to have references for mapping and try out different setups to see what else we can work on for next March. In the last session there were a lot of puddles; we went out with slicks and were very competitive again. I’m very satisfied with this first test, as we have always been among the fastest riders and we have more and more knowledge about the bike. We know which direction to take and what to do to improve. I really enjoyed myself with my new team, and I’m looking forward to coming back to Jerez in March!”
In Sunday’s more difficult conditions it was Marc VDS rider Mike Di Meglio who proved quickest. The Frenchman took first late in the day with a 1’52.160, seeing him pull ahead of another solid day for Smith by a little over a tenth in the damp conditons.
Hervé Poncharal’s Tech3 will field Frenchman Kenny Foray in the MotoE series and the pair worked together across the three days at Jerez to get a feeling for the Energica machine and the Tech3 boss, who is never short of a word, was especially enthusiastic about the new category.
Hervé Poncharal – Tech3 Team Manager
“It was a very exciting three days’ test for Tech3 E-Racing. We were feeling like the pioneers of a new era. This bike is so different to everything we’ve been used to and honestly, we didn’t know what to expect as a team, our riders and the whole grid. After a few laps, everybody had a big smile on their face, no matter the conditions; every rider was very pleasantly surprised about how the bike behaved. This is a proper racing bike and I think Energica, Enel, Dorna – the MotoE team lead by Nicolas Goubert – did a great, great job and I would like to thank all of them. We enjoyed a trouble free three days of test, the riders were having fun on their bikes and it’s fun to watch. The corner speed, they can carry is unbelievable. The riders were happy about how the bike behaved, because even though it’s heavy, it didn’t feel heavy, the grip was amazing and the corner speed is closer to a Moto3 than a MotoGP bike. It’s a new way of riding, but young riders like Eric Granado, experienced riders like Sete Gibernau, Endurance riders, Moto2 and MotoGP riders, everybody who was there had great fun. I believe this is going to be much more exciting and interesting than what most of the people think. We are glad and proud to be part of it. This is the very beginning, but the level is already quite high and good enough to deliver exciting racing. I wish good luck to Energica and everybody involved in that project and I’m quite sure that the next test here in Jerez the bike will be eve more competitive and the riders will be quicker. We just can’t wait to be back on track with the MotoE!”
The LCR squad are another high profile team getting in early on the MotoE developments and will contest the new series with Randy De Puniet and Niccolò Canepa, the pair were eighth and tenth respectively on combined times across the three days of testing.
Randy De Puniet – P8 overall
“The first test with the MotoE bike was really interesting, although we have been a little unlucky with the weather. There wasn’t too much time on track, and for the teams with two riders like us, the organizers provided only one bike available to share for this first test session. That meant we had to change things around a lot and we got less time than the teams with only one rider. Despite this, the feeling was good, and the pace was also good. We are confident, and given that this was the first time with the team the atmosphere was great. My team-mate is cool so I think we can do good things next year. There are still two more tests before the first race next year. We have time to improve, and by then we will have one bike each which will make working easier and allow us to improve our lap times. As things stand, it’s already good.”
Niccolò Canepa – P10 overall
“I’m really happy with these first days of testing and the first contact with the MotoE bike and the LCR E-Team. It was a fantastic experience, despite the unfortunate weather and the fact that Randy and I had to share a bike. We enjoyed ourselves and first impressions were positive. We were quite quick throughout and got to find out a lot about the bike, and we’re still not getting 100 percent out of it so we will have to work hard in the other two winter tests to adapt it to my riding style. I’m sure the championship will be entertaining and we will be able to fight for the top positions. Thanks to the LCR E-Team team and their crew who have done some excellent work this week. I can’t wait to get together again for the next test!”
There will also be an Aussie on the inaugural MotoE grid with 25-year-old Josh Hook riding for Alma Pramac Racing alongside highly experienced team-mate Alex De Angelis. The pair were somewhat constrained by only having one machine to share between them and finished the test ninth and eleventh respectively.
Josh Hook – P9 overall
“It’s been a very interesting day. The bike surprised me with its ease of riding even though there are many aspects that we will have to work on. Having only one bike was not the ideal condition but from the next tests we will be able to start working on the set-up”.
Alex De Angelis – P11 overall
“The feelings are positive even if, especially in my case, the weather has not given me a hand. Basically, I was able to ride in “almost” dry conditions in just one session and I enjoyed it. I can’t wait to get back on track in March to have all the sessions at disposal and start working with the team.
Teams and riders were not just getting their heads around new and very different machinery than they had ridden before, but also were getting up to speed with new rubber. Specially designed, the front tyres are a derivative of MotoGP tyres but the rears have more of a Superbike background.
The fronts need to support the heavy bikes under braking, whereas the rears need to warm up quickly for the shorter race distances in the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup. With the different characteristics of each, that made it something very new for each rider out on track – regardless of their racing experience.
One thing that many onlookers have not taken into account as Dorna gears up to host this new series are the potential safety risks the MotoE category introduces. We believe this will involve specialist training for first responders on track as to the possible electrocution risks that might arise, and how to deal with the new potential fire risks.
The next MotoE Official Test will take place on the 13th, 14th and 15th of March in Jerez – which also hosts the first ever round of the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup next season.
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