Michael Rutter has just won his third SES TT Zero, giving MotoCzysz it's fourth-in-a-row victory in the electric motorcycle race on the Isle of Man. But it was close. Damn close. One-point-six-seconds close. In the end, after months of engineering effort, the top spot on the podium – the only position that really matters to these guys – came down to which team was willing to take the most risk.
As we suspected, it was really a contest between nineteen-time TT winner John McGuinness on the Mugen Shinden Ni and reigning TT Zero champion Michael Rutter riding for MotoCzysz. Both teams wanted this win badly. For MotoCzysz, this bike (you can see great pictures of it here) represents its entire electric drivetrain technology and motorcycle performance parts business and the event gives the U.S.-based outfit a worldwide publicity megaphone. The difference between a win and second place could mean keeping the lights on. Though, with team principal Michael Czysz currently engaged in a personal health battle, the positive result might be even more important.
*UPDATE: We've added some on-board footage from the bikes of both Rutter and McGuinness
How badly did Mugen want to win? If the widely-circulated rumors are correct, the company (which is very closely associated with Honda) spent $4.3 million developing this year's entry. It is 44 pounds lighter than last year's Shinden – or, 神電, which means "God of Electricity" in Japanese. Ni, or, 二, means two – and appears to be mostly hewn from carbon fiber (you can see a pretty awesome photo set here).
It went down like this. It's something of a time trial race, so each rider left the starting gate with 10 seconds between them. Rutter left first, with teammate Mark Miller next in line. McGuinness was third off the mark and soon found himself passing Miller. That was, however, part of Miller's race strategy, and he ducked into the Mugen's slipstream and began conserving energy. The move, however, may have also helped McGuinness gain some speed as he began closing the gap on Rutter, eventually opening up a nine-second lead.
Miller hung tight until Ballaugh Bridge, where the bikes generally take to the air. Upon landing, "something in the gearbox broke," and MotoCzysz was down to one entry. Rutter hit
According to Mark Miller's account of things, the Mugen team wouldn't let McGuinness wring every last electron from the machine. For good reason, perhaps. There's a fine line with lithium ion batteries that, when crossed, can cause the units to self destruct in a difficult-to-extinguish conflagration. On the other hand, the Americans were willing to let it burn if it meant a win and the E1PC crossed the line with its batteries actually below their capacity.
The race saw another team from the US on the podium as well. Rob Barber did the Buckeye Current team from The Ohio State University proud, bringing their shoe-string budget bike 'round the Snaefell Mountain course at an average 90.403 mph. An amazing accomplishment indeed.
The Rutter/MotoCzysz win set a new record lap time for electric bikes of 109.675 mph, which was just slightly below the 110-mph goal for this year. We expect they'll be aiming even higher next year, but for now, we'd just like to congratulate everyone involved for their efforts and wish Mr. Czsyz a speedy recovery. You can see some onboard Shinden Ni footage and recorded flybys from the race in the video below along with the official press release.
Michael Rutter takes another SES TT Zero win for MotoCzysz team in record-breaking lap
Michael Rutter and MotoCzysz took a thrilling victory in the SES TT Zero race in glorious conditions on the Isle of Man this morning, officially breaking the previous clean emissions lap record that he set last year. The Midlands rider smashed the record unofficially earlier in the week during practice on the MotoCzysz 2013 bike, but only narrowly took victory from Mugen rider John McGuinness. Rutter's new record official is a time of 20:38.46 (109.675mph), beating his time last year (21:45.33/104.056) by over a minute.
John McGuinness was not far behind Michael Rutter, lapping with a time of 20:40.13 (109.527mph) on the Mugen machine. The Morecambe missile showed that he can be just as competitive in the Zero class as he is in the other classes at TT 2013. Robert Barber, the 2009 race winner, took the final podium place on the Ohio State University machine, which lapped the Mountain course in 25:02.467 (90.403mph). Rutter's American MotoCzysz teammate, Mark Miller unfortunately retired at Ballaugh Bridge with a broken gear box.
George Spence on the Kingston University bike was next to finish the race with a time of 25:41.82 (88.096mph), followed by Chris McGahan on the Vercarmoto at 83.857mph.
After announcing that this would be his last TT, Ian Lougher paid tribute to Yoshinari Matsushita on the Komatti Mirai machine with a time of 27:46.30 (81.515mph). David Madsen-Mygdal on the Imperial and Paul Owen on the Brunel University machine completed the group in today's one lap race.