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McGuinness breaks TT ZERO record, 111.9 miles/hr lap speed in practice round

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On Friday, John McGuinness riding for Team Mugen Shinden scored the fastest lap ever in TT ZERO history, 111.904 miles/hr (IOMTT press release), during the first electric motorcycle practice session of the 2014 TT Week. Last year he came in second with a 109.527 miles/hr lap speed, behind Michael Rutter of MotoCzysz who had a 109.675 miles/hr lap speed. That's the record McGuinness just beat.

It's been widely expected that Team Mugen Shinden is aiming to break through the 115 miles/hr lap speed threshold this year. Hitting 111.9 miles/hr during practice is sure a good indicator that McGuinness will do so. McGuinness' team mate Bruce Anstey had to retire early in the race, and a picture spied on Facebook showed his bike on fire.

According to live reporting from Manx Radio, McGuinness simply ran the bike hard all the way through the practice session. He was recorded doing 164.9 miles/hr at the Sulby Speed Trap, and at the Ramsey Hairpin the announcer said that was the fastest he'd ever seen an electric bike go through that corner. Ramsey Hairpin is an extremely tight corner into an uphill section that goes over the mountain, and historically the electric bikes have had trouble at that corner.

Rob Barber, riding for the Buckeye Current team from The Ohio State University, came in 2nd with an 89.057 miles/hr lap speed. At press time the only other known finisher was Robert Wilson of Team Sarolea whose lap speed was a little slower than Barber's.

The TT ZERO is an all electric motorcycle race held during the TT Week event on the Isle of Man. It took over from the TTXGP in 2010. TT Week is one of the longest running and most prestigious motorcycle racing events, with over 100 years of history. The race course is a 38.4 mile loop around the Isle of Man, including climbing a 1500 foot mountain.

Lap times for TT ZERO bikes have improved enormously each year. In 2012, MotoCzysz was the first team to "break the ton" (a lap speed over 100 miles/hr) when Michael Rutter had a 104 miles/hr lap speed. In 2013, Rutter and McGuinness had a tight battle, finishing with laptimes within 2 seconds of each other, but Rutter was faster at 109.675 miles/hr.

That is, in 2011 MotoCzysz did not quite break the ton, finishing with a 99 miles/hr lap speed. In 2012, MotoCzysz broke the ton with a 104 miles/hr lap speed. In 2013, MotoCzysz bumped the lap speed to nearly 110 miles/hr. It would fit the pattern for a team to break the 115 miles/hr lap speed this year. Unfortunately MotoCzysz could not make this years TT ZERO due to Michael Czysz's illness, may he get better soon.

McGuinness' speed at Sulby, almost 165 miles/hr, is also astonishing. It wasn't that long ago, 2010 specifically, that this sort of speed was the ultimate for electric motorcycles. That's the year Lightning Motorcycles set the land speed record for electric motorcycles at 172 miles/hr. The following year Lightning bumped that to 215 miles/hr. In 2012, at the TTXGP North American finals at Daytona International Raceway, both of Brammo's hit 170 miles/hr in race conditions. In the 2013 TT ZERO, Michael Rutter (MotoCzysz) was recorded at 142 miles/hr at Sulby, while McGuinness was recorded at 131 miles/hr.

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