Tuuli: MotoE fun on and off the track

'I went into the first corner and two guys passed me, one on the outside and one on the inside' - inaugural MotoE winner Niki Tuuli.
Tuuli: MotoE fun on and off the track

Niki Tuuli wrote his name into the history books by becoming the first-ever winner of a MotoE (electric bike) race, during the German MotoGP at Sachsenring earlier this month.

The Finn dominated the single lap E-Pole qualifying session by 0.787s with a tyre-smoking lap, then softened his set-up in response to damp patches for the race. But the move backfired with the Ajo rider uncomfortable in the early stages of the planned seven-lap sprint.

"It rained quite a lot overnight and I saw the track getting dryer during the warm-ups, but there were still some wet patches," said the Finn.

"That's why we made some small changes on the bike and that wasn't such a good idea.

"We made the bike a little bit softer and straightaway when I hit the brakes at the first corner I bottomed the bike and felt it was too soft.

"On the first lap I lost many positions because I didn’t feel as comfortable with the bike as yesterday.

"So for two laps I tried to learn a little bit and then I saw where I was a little bit faster and tried to use my skills there."

Tuuli had been exceptional though the fast corners during qualifying and - having adjusted his technique for the softer settings - took the lead on lap four, where he remained when red flags halted the inaugural MotoE contest on lap six.

"Once I had improved my riding I felt quite okay again. But like I said after qualifying, even though I made that lap time, I knew the race will be really tight - like everybody saw."

The results, taken at the end of lap five, gave Tuuli a 0.442s victory margin over Bradley Smith with Mike Di Meglio completing a podium covered by just 0.567s. Fourth place Hector Garzo, who took the holeshot, was also within one-second of the winner.

All MotoE riders use identical 260kg Energica machines.

"I'm really happy. I think the race was really good and that's the main thing," said Tuuli, a World Supersport winner in 2017 before a tough season in Moto2 with Petronas last year.

"We didn’t really know what it would be like because during the 'practice race' in Valencia we didn’t make so many passes, it was like a train.

"But today it was really funny to see, like when I went into the first corner and already two guys passed me, one on the outside and one on the inside.

"So it was something new and of course you need to be clever where you pass because it's a really heavy bike, but it was good to see we could pass with this bike. The race was really nice.

"In the tight corners the weight is not so good but for the fast corners the weight is actually helping. So it's like 50-50, better or worse.

"I think all the MotoE class enjoyed to be part of this new thing and everybody had fun. Of course it's serious and on the track we try to fight as much as we can, but the atmosphere is really good.

"I hope everybody wants to keep it fun like this and be friends.

"Already after the first test we knew the bike was going to be quite okay for me to ride and every time we went out we were close to the top three, so that's the main thing with such a short championship."

The second of the six MotoE races will be held at the Red Bull Ring in Austria, again during the MotoGP weekend, in early August.