Race Report: eMotoRacing at Sonoma Raceway, April 30 - May 1, 2015

Sonoma Raceway holds a special place in my heart. It's the venue where I first witnessed Electric Motorcycle Racing at the inaugural North American TTXGP in 2010, the first clean emission grand prix. Electric Motorcycle geeks from all over the US made the pilgrimage to watch what we knew was a historic moment in Motorcycle Racing History. This week Hollywood Electric Racing had the privilege of racing Sonoma with eMotoRacing. Our racers, Jeff Clark, Nathan Barker, and Brandon Nozaki Miller, on their Zero SRs were joined by four other riders, Arthur Kowitz on his Brammo Empulse TTX Streamliner, Pete Nicolosi and Murrae Haynes on their Brammo Empulse Rs and Jai Armstrong running a High Voltage Brammo Empulse TTX prototype. We arrived at Sonoma Raceway on Thursday morning after battling the Bay Area traffic and started to setup our pit. We were pleasantly surprised to find that Kowitz had reserved several areas with 240V 50A receptacles as charging stations. The four Brammo riders were sharing a charging area near the garages, and we claimed one of the areas by the grandstands and setup our pit around it. The 50A plug would be more than sufficient for our charging needs as each of the Zero's chargers draw about 7A and our quick charger about 12A, a combined total of roughly 33A. This would give us plenty of time to fully charge between practice sessions and before the race. Sonoma Raceway is a technical track and a new track to all of our Hollywood Electrics Riders. Once our rider's registered and completed tech inspection, the morning's practice sessions were spent learning the track and the race lines. The riders barely had enough time to get comfortable before the first race in the afternoon. Brandon's bike needed new tires and while we had the new tires mounted, we took the opportunity to re-gear the bike which still the had high speed gearing, suitable for Willow Springs but too tall for Sonoma. The flag drops for the race in the afternoon and we watch excitedly as the bikes take off into Turn 1. Armstrong gets the hole shot but his lead quickly ends as a malfunction leaves him stranded on his TTX at the chicane in the first lap. Armstrong was able to reboot the bike and continue, but by that time had fallen behind and Clark takes the lead. Two laps in, Miller pulls off into the sand, deciding to end his race early when his motorcycle begins to display signs of technical issues. Two and a half laps in, Kowitz passes Clark to take the lead and starts to widen the gap as Clark's bike begins to slow. Armstrong struggles to make ground on the leader, as he is once again stranded on the chicane when his bike loses power. By the time the checkered flag is waved its Kowitz, Clark and Armstrong, followed by Nicolosi, Haynes, then Barker. After analyzing the data from the first race, we are able to address the issues with Miller's bike. For Clark's bike, we decide on a dramatic gearing change when we notice in the data logs that he has not yet achieved top speed on his current setup. The second day practice goes well and we make some final preparations for the race. After too many issues, Armstrong has retired his bike for the weekend and on the grid we have Clark, Miller, Barker, Kowitz, Nicolosi and Haynes. Barker leads into turn 1 but Clark catches him as they head up the hill with Miller right behind and Kowitz closing in. Three laps in and its clear we made a good move with Clark's gearing, he's holding down a strong lead running two seconds a lap faster than Kowitz while Nicolosi, Barker and Miller battle for second! As Clark approaches the chicane in lap 4, he attempts a risky pass on one of the gas bikes from the first wave of racers when the racer makes an unexpected move spooking Clark who then low sides out of the chicane. Kowitz now has a strong lead and we see Miller lose some steam, falling back behind Nicolosi and Barker. Going into the last lap we have Kowitz, Nicolosi, Miller while Barker just barely holds off Haynes. Kowitz takes first, followed by Nicolosi and Miller. Haynes and Barker are neck and neck until the last corner when Haynes pulls ahead to cross the finish line first. We had a great couple of days at Sonoma. It was disappoint to see Clark crash out of the second race, especially as the race leader, but thankfully he was uninjured and the motorcycle undamaged with the exception of needing a new footpeg. We learned a lot at this first time at the track and we know that we'll be better prepared next time. Congratulations to all the racers who participated. Thank you to Arthur Kowitz for organizing the eMotoRacing series and AHRMA for hosting the event. We'd especially like to thank our sponsors Zero Motorcycles, digiNow, Nate’s Fine Foods, CaliPhotography, EnerBee, AXO and Lindemann Engineering. We hope you'll join us for our next event May 16-17 with Moto West Grand Prix at the Streets of Willow. Moto West Grand Prix May 16 - 17, 8am-4pm Willow Springs International Raceway 3500 75th St W Rosamond, CA 93560 http://www.willowspringsraceway.com/ Enjoy the Ride, Harlan Flagg

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