The eGrandPrix TTXGP and FIM ePower electric motorcycle racing series have, once again, held a joint round at California's fabulous Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in front of the huge crowds assembled for the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix. The result? A commanding win for Michael Barnes aboard the solar-powered Barracuda Lightning bike.
Lightning Motorcycles missed the last TTXGP race in Portland, OR after participating in the TT Zero on the Isle of Man. Its triumphant return was made more striking when it appeared wrapped in the colors of its new sponsor, Barracuda Networks, and the announcement that it would be bringing its own solar array to provide power for the team's two machines.
In qualifying, Barnes came within a couple seconds of the lap record set last year by Steve Rapp. Then, starting from pole position, he continued his dominance, holding the lead through the entire nine laps. Only Team Icon Brammo's Steve Atlas could even get close, finishing just under three seconds behind him on the Empulse RR. Also aboard a Brammo, Eric Bostrom landed on the low step of the podium after crossing the finish line 12.8 seconds behind Barnes.
Although his fourth place result was, no doubt, less than he'd hoped for, Münch Racing's Matthias Himmelmann seemed his usual jovial self (at least, judging by the photos on the team's Facebook page). While his teammate Katja Poensgen rode the same machine that's taken her to the top of the ePower individual standings, he was piloting the latest evolution of the German brand's TTE racer, complete with a Wittenstein motor and new battery. If the team returns Stateside for the World Championship in Daytona, we expect this bike to present a more formidable challenge after the team has a bit more time to bring it up to its potential.
While we were somewhat disappointed Team Segway MotoCzysz didn't show up with its latest TT Zero-winning machine, we were heartened by the appearance of the Virginia Tech Bolt in the TTX75 class. Competing in its second TTXGP race this season, the university team has worked hard to put this bike together and gone to great lengths (literally!), driving across the country to do battle. The experience has, apparently, inspired them to reach for greater heights and we expect to see them contend in the top class with a new bike in 2013.