At the San Marino GP in Misano, Nicolas Goubert, the Executive Director of the MotoE, explained the actual status of the MotoE and how many developments have already been in these first months. In response to the Jerez accident last March (here the report of the fire), Dorna questioned some choices and redefined some aspects of the project MotoE. The first, as Goubert says, was "not to keep all the eggs in one basket". The team boxes and the motorbike charging area were thus separated; any accident during the charging phase would not have had an impact on the rest of the paddock.
The second was to enhance the fire service with a dedicated team by Safety Events: a fire unit specifically trained to deal with fires of electric vehicles with Lithium batteries. The team is always composed of the same members and it moves from time to time to follow the MotoE World Cup; this allows to increase the experience race by race and not have to train new staff every time. The first intervention carried out by the "Fire Brigade", as Goubert calls it, was to extinguish Niki Tuuli's battery fire at the Austrian GP. At that time, we saw the application of the new intervention technique. In the first phase, the fire extinguishers were used to extinguish the flames and the bike was coveredy by a fireproof blanket to prevent oxygen of the air from igniting the fire again. The bike was thus secured even the fire was not fully extinguished because a lithium battery burns from the inside and it is not enough to suppress the flames to stop it, the battery has to be completely cooled (here a detailed description about design and safety of Lithium batteries).
For this reason the motorcycle is loaded on a special vehicle equipped with a fireproof and electrically insulated container, and it is transported to a safe area where the battery is cooled with water, a lot of water. Goubert explaination about the criterion that underlies the safety procedures of the MotoE is very interesting: whatever happens, the track must be released within 20 minutes to allow the sessions of the other motorcycling classes to take place. For this reason, the damaged motorcycle is loaded and taken away from the track, even if the battery is burning; the other scheduled events need the track.
Moving on to the analysis of the first races, Goubert said he was very satisfied, above all because the public had the chance to see that MotoE it is a very spectacular competition with real racing bikes, the only difference being the use of a different technology. The first race in Germany was a surprise for many; we have seen duels, overtaking, the E-pole format was very spectacular and the riders had fun. But above all the people saw a real race. The MotoE project expects to grow year after year, providing more and more entertainment. From next year the teams will have the "buke charger", the portable battery chargers to recharge the bikes on the grid before the race start. This will make possible to extend the duration of the races by one lap by recharging the batteries of the energy consumed in the sighting lap. At the same time, fixed charging stations will also evolve (here the description of the second generation charging stations).
Next year's calendar will see one more round compared to 2019: there will be five rounds for a total of six races with the novelty of the Assen circuit (here the MotoE 2020 calendar ). One of the critical points highlighted by teams and riders for the first edition of the MotoE was the limited time available for tests. The request was to have more opportunities to develop the set-up of the bike and the riding style required by the Ego Corsa of Energica. Goubert has made it clear that this is also a goal for Dorna and that the winter tests calendar will be developed to put the riders in a position to spend more time on the bikes. Also the schedule of the race weekend is under analysis, above all to allow the riders to run before the qualifying session, the E-pole.
One aspect that all the riders agreed on is the excellent performance of the Michelin tyres. Goubert explained that when it came to defining the tire specifications for the MotoE, Dorna's request was to have a specific product for this competition and not simply to use an existing tyre. Michelin has thus developed the front tyre starting from the MotoGP model while the rear one is derived from the Superbike experience. Both, however, have specific characteristics for the MotoE, as he explained by Piero Taramasso in our meeting in Misano. The front is the same for all tracks, while for the rear two tires have been made, one specific for the Austrian GP and one for all the other circuits.
We will return to these issues again in Valencia, at the end of the 2019 season of the MotoE World Cup, to follow the evolution of the new MotoGP electric class.