In a historic move for electric motorcycle racing, the AFM has approved Brammo's electric motorcycles to participate in AFM's gas bike races. For the first time racers on electric motorcycles will be competing head-head with gas bike racers, and be allowed to gain points and championship standing. The agreement opens the door to electric motorcycles from other manufacturers, and what the AFM has done is to pre-approve the Brammo Empulse R, TTX and RR motorcycles for AFM racing.
In order to participate an Empulse owner must have qualifications to race in the AFM, and ensure they follow AFM's safety and technical regulations. The AFM adapted regulations from the TTXGP, integrating them into AFM's rulebook. An important rule is that racers must meet a minimum laptime threshold in order to compete.
The Empulse R and TTX have been approved for specific lightweight race classes, and the Empulse RR have been approved for specific middleweight classes. The Empulse R is available now for the public to purchase from Brammo's dealer network. The Empulse TTX is constructed from an Empulse R using a yet-to-be-released kit which ensures an R matches TTXGP's requirements. The Empulse RR is Brammo's non-production prototype platform, and it is only Team ICON Brammo who will race with that bike.
Owners of electric motorcycles from other manufacturers must contact the AFM to discuss which class they'll be placed, technical requirements and permission to run their bike.
The AFM is a club motorcycle racing organization in Northern California and runs a race series out of Sonoma Raceway and Thunderhill Raceway. The Sonoma Raceway has been the scene of several TTXGP events (when that track was still known as Infineon Raceway), and Thunderhill Raceway is where Brammo typically goes for track testing their bikes.
We've covered two previous instances where electric motorcycles have entered and won gas bike races, and won points. The first was when Team Norton Electra went to an AHRMA event at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2010, and won. The second was when Chip Yates entered a WERA race in 2011, and won as well. In both cases the team owners withdrew their win and points in order to avoid perturbing the results of the gas bike racers.
What's different in this case is that AFM has opened the door for full participation of electric motorcycle racers in gas bike racing.
Brian Wismann, Director of Product Development for Brammo, said: “This announcement is a true milestone in the history of electric motorcycle racing as an opportunity for our bikes to compete amongst their gas powered counterparts on even terms rather than just as an exhibition or in a single race. It’s going to be a challenge to be competitive as the gas bikes have about 100 years of development time on us, but we’re excited about the chance to pit the Brammo Empulse against the best efforts from Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha.”
Berto Wooldridge, President of AFM Racing said; “What caught AFM's attention about Brammo's approach was that they were not asking for a separate class, but were instead looking to have a chance for their bikes to compete within the existing class structure and go head to head with gas-powered bikes of similar performance and power-to-weight. We believe this to be a historic moment in motorcycle racing and are happy to have made it possible.”