So challenging is the IOM TT Snafell course that to be competitive three consecutive years in a row is difficult; winning 3 consecutive years in a row is a rare feat indeed.
In 2010, the first year the TT Zero had official TT status, MotoCzysz introduced our first proprietary D1g1tal Dr1ve, this was a big upgrade to the previous brushed DC motor, the result was complete domination, our first TT win and a new lap record. In 2011, we returned with a completely all new 011E1pc electric grand prix machine including another big advancement in the D1g1tal Dr1ve. We also brought back an upgraded 2010 E1pc as is was so far ahead of the rest of the field just the previous year. That year MotoCzysz won, for the second year in a row and set another new lap record. The old 2010, now a 2010.5, was still strong enough to beat all the others and MotoCzysz took second place as well. In 2012 we knew competition was coming and it did.
Sometimes there are moments in time that are so definitive there is a before and an after, from that moment on. In 2011 electric motorcycle racing had one of those moments. By the time the 2011 TT Zero race rolled around electric motorcycle racing had been holding organized events for two years. Needless to say electric motorcycles were still in their infancy and compared to highly evolved internal combustion engine (ICE) motorcycles were poorly constructed and … very, very, slow. In those early years there was little to no interest in the racing and those who actually did see the racing spent most of their time snickering if not outright pointing and laughing. We all experienced self-deprecation.
During the very first practice of the 2011 TT Zero, the MotoCzysz took off from the starting line like 600cc, proper road race bike, and took the audience by complete surprise, that was only the beginning. Not the best strategy to start off the lap with such a consumption of energy but we wanted to improve “the show” and it was a fine start. Halfway thru the same lap Rutter reached 150mph at Sulby straight, faster than some of the ICE motorcycles, “the moment”, though building came at the end of that lap. Up until 2011 most e-starters did not finish and those that did often were walked across or finishing a crawling speeds. On this pivotal lap Rutter crossed the start finish line doing an remarkable 122mph! It is not that the E1 was faster than a “normal” race bike, it is in fact that it was similar to a “normal” race bike that made it so exceptional. Never before had the fans seen a “lecy” run the entire course at nearly a 100mph, reach 150mph at Sulby and still finish the race at a 122mph.
That was the moment… At that very point electric motorcycles (at least on the island) earned some respect and a few more fans. One of those fans who witnessed that lap was John McGuinness. In 2012, (now 20 time TT champ) John McGuinness went from fan to competitor… And a major manufacturer brought a specially designed weapon for his use.
Mugen, a Japanese company founded by Hirotoshi Honda, son of Soichiro Honda, founder of Honda… (yes that Honda) came to the Island like his Dad did over 50 years ago and Honda has dominated the TT almost ever since. Mugen and McGuinness were strong right from the start. Though new to the island the rider and bike were already familiar with each other, in contrast I brought two new bikes for our riders to ride for the first time. Mugen/McGuinness were fast as expected but the E1pc with Rutter was just a little faster.
That day Mark Miller on the his MotoCzysz broke the highly anticipated 100mph lap and stood on the podium in third place. John McGuinness on the Mugen also broke the 100 and placed second but it was Michael Rutter that earned the second defining moment- when MotoCzysz won the TT Zero for the third time in a row, setting another new lap record, fastest at Sulby and will forever be credited as the first electric grand prix motorcycle to break the coveted 100mph lap.
(the little path)
After a racer completes a lap at the IOM he/she slows down and makes a 180 degree turn onto a very narrow return “path”, just a few meters wide. Fans line up shoulder to shoulder on one side, leaning and reaching out, hoping to touch greatness and as the bug covered riders return from battle all go straight, thru the pits and up to park ferma where the teams are waiting. However, the first three have one stop to make first.
For three years now I have followed a route that puts me in different locations to collect different data during different parts of the race (now superstition) and have had the unbelievable fortune to walk down pit lane and watch every MotoCzysz bike we have entered in the TT Zero slowly come home up the tiny, fan lined, rock wall, were we meet face to face, time slows down (wish it could stop) then we enter victory circle.
MotoCzysz is now the winningest American motorcycle manufacture at the IOM. Mark Miller and Michael Rutter are my heroes and I look forward to more meetings on that tiny path.