MotoE: Flat-out from start to finish

'We want full power from the first lap to the last, whatever the rider' - Nicolas Goubert, MotoE.
MotoE: Flat-out from start to finish

Nicolas Goubert, executive director of the new FIM MotoE World Cup, has pledged that the new electric bike class will be able to race flat-out from start to finish during its inaugural 2019 season.

Monitoring battery life is one of the biggest concerns surrounding the new generation of electric machines.

But with MotoE competitors all running the same Energica motorcycles, the race distance at each circuit (equating to roughly 15mins) has been calculated so that battery capacity is eliminated from the equation.

"For sure, we want them to have full power from the first lap to the last, whatever the rider," Goubert said.

"They won’t all use the same energy, but we want to make sure that the race distance is short enough so that nobody will have any [battery] trouble.

"We have only two test riders, so we have a race distance in mind based on the ‘worst’ rider - meaning the one that uses the most energy.

"But if we find out from the 18 racers that we have to shorten distances again, then we’ll do it to make sure everyone has what they need.

"We don’t want riders having to ‘control’ their power or try to learn another way of riding."

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The best lap time during MotoE's rain-interrupted inaugural test session at Jerez last month was a 1m 50.265s by Bradley Smith.

That was 3.5s off the official Moto3 race lap record, but Goubert predicts the 160hp/270km/h MotoE machines should be a match for the much lighter 250cc petrol class at least once during the five-round season.

"In terms of lap-times with the other categories, the best results we’ve found [in private testing] so far were in Austria, which is a high-speed circuit," Goubert said.

"After a 45-minute test, Loris [Capirossi] was making times that were 0.5s away from the Moto3 lap record.  So I think the MotoE race riders will be at the same pace as Moto3 there.

"It won’t be the same at the twisty circuits, where the average speed is quite low. That’s because of the weight and being unable to take advantage of the higher average speed. It’s hard to say how much difference there will be at the moment."

The Frenchman added: "The most positive thing [at Jerez] was the reaction of the riders. All of them have been very positive and the bikes have worked very well, so no real issues, except for the weather!

"All through the year when we gave the production version of the bike for the MotoE demonstration laps at grands prix, riders said how easy it was to ride and it's been the same here at Jerez.

"I think that's positive because it means they can still use their individual riding styles. So although it's a bit different, it's not night and day and they are having fun just as they have fun with petrol engine bikes.

"The maximum speed is quite high because the power is there and the torque means the acceleration is good. The weight is a limiting [performance] factor because it takes longer to reduce the speed and it’s different to flip the bike from side-to-side in the corners.

"But I remember Randy de Puniet riding the production bike in Le Mans and he said ‘I won’t tell you it is a light bike, but compared to what I use with a full tank in Endurance there is not a big difference’.

"Of course, there is no gearbox in MotoE, but you might say that in MotoGP almost everything is automatic now."

In terms of setting up the MotoE bikes each weekend, "It'll be less complex compared to MotoGP because the guys will have limited track time - only two 30-minute practice sessions on a Friday before qualifying on Saturday and a race on Sunday - and you have to consider that some weekends might have changeable weather.

"They’ll have to look at the suspension, two different power delivery modes, three engine-braking modes as well as an electric rear brake. That's enough in the time available."

Goubert's former employer Michelin is supplying the MotoE tyres.

Helping the rider-friendly feel of the bike has been careful programming of the power curves.

"The bike still talks to you, like with RPM on a normal bike," said Smith. "They've programmed in a power curve. I rode the more direct one and you can manage it. The mapping is nice in the wet and in the dry."

"Energica made a lot of work on the power delivery for the bike, to be easy to handle," confirmed Goubert. "With an electric engine you have a lot of torque and if you don’t handle it properly then it might be difficult to ride.

"Energica made a great job. When Loris did the testing for us, he said that you could make the bike slide and really have fun with it.

"Once I asked Loris and our test rider to ride together and try to overtake each other. They came back with a big smile, saying it was really fun and that we should look on the track because there must be a lot of black marks!"

With no clutch lever needed, Smith was among the riders pondering if the rear brake lever could be moved to the left handlebar.

"Right now it's under discussion," Goubert said. "It's not the way we have taken, so we'll see what they want to do. In March we'll talk about it again and if all of them want it, why not?"

In terms of how the bike ran at Jerez, the only issue raised by the riders was the need to keep cooling the battery.

"That was only a problem at the test here because we tried to fit as many sessions in as possible," Goubert said. "For example, on Friday, we had three sessions very close to each other.

"When you are using the battery on track, the temperature goes up. Then if you charge it straight away – as we had to do – it goes up again. Then we rode again, came in, charged again!

"But next year we've made sure we have the time we need to properly charge and cool the battery before they start again. So it's not a worry.

"All teams will be given the same cooling equipment but honestly speaking we will use it only on Fridays, in between sessions. We won't need it apart from that."

The opening MotoE test of 2019 will be held back at Jerez from March 13-15 and again from April 23-25. The first MotoE race takes place during the Spanish MotoGP weekend on May 5.