AMA road racing veteran Shawn Higbee won North America’s first-ever electric motorcycle grand prix on Sunday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma California.
Higbee, the polesitter riding the Zero Motorcycles entry—a Suzuki GSX-R600 with two Agni 95 motors and a massive battery—finished the 40.23 km (25-mile), 11 lap race in 25 minutes and 33.626 seconds. Lightning Motors rider Michael Barnes came in second place, a lap behind at 25:51.784, but the race was much closer than the finish suggests. The two AMA veterans traded the lead often early on with the win ultimately coming down to battery management. Higbee was only able to carve out his substantial margin after the power management safety override on Barnes’ bike tripped during lap 9 and brought his machine to a standstill for 45 seconds while he worked to reset it.
“Michael snapped off the line a little quicker than I thought” to start the race, Higbee said. “It made me nervous. It became a strategy race, like an endurance race. I kept an eye on the volt meter to make sure I’d have the range to finish.”
Eight of the 10 bikes that started the race finished it. Higbee’s best lap time was 1:56.948, and his best average speed during qualifying was 124.422 kph (77.312 mph). In comparison the top AMA superbikes running at Infineon this weekend were riding the 3.67 km (2.28 mile) course in the 1:36 range and averaging approximately 140 kph (87 mph).
“I think this could turn into something big,” Higbee said. “It’s going to introduce a whole new industry to motorcycling. The engineers are a whole new breed. I’m surprised at how close we are to gas bikes already.”
TTXGP founder Azhar Hussain was also enthusiastic, exclaiming, “We’re about 18 seconds off the superbike pace. I hope we’ve changed some hearts and minds here this weekend.”
The next race in the series is at Road America in Wisconsin, June 6. Round 3 comes to Canada, July 11 at Mosport International Raceway in Ontario.
2010 TTXGP North America Round 1 Results
Pos. No.Rider Team Time Laps Best Lap Time
1 22 Shawn Higbee Zero/Agni 25.33.626 11 laps 1:56.948
2 80 Michael Barnes Lightning 25:51.784 10 laps 2:01.457
3 15 Mike Hannas ElectricRaceBike26:44.237 10 laps 2:08.587
4 23 Jennifer Bromme Werkstatt 26:57.716 10 laps 2:15.103
5 14 Kenyon Kluge K Squared 29:54.606 10 laps 2:16.393
6 18 Zoe Rem Pril Motors 27:51.617 9 laps 2:41.026
7 16 John Wild Square Wave 26:21.047 8 laps 2:44.726
8 20 Jason Lauritzen EMS 26:24.765 8 laps 2:12.375
DNF 19 Spencer Smith Volt Motors Lap 9
DNF 37 Thad Wolff Team Electra Lap 3