The MotoE World Cup is ready to start its third season. In a month, at the Angel Nieto circuit in Jerez, the first of two test sessions will take place before the race debut, on the same track, on May 2nd. To find out what the Ego Corsa 2021 will be like, we asked Giampiero Testoni, Technical Director of Energica Motor Company.
We are halfway through the four-year agreement between Dorna and Energica for the MotoE; what is the balance after these first two years?
“It has been a very positive two years. We accepted the challenge, the start was uphill, but then the situation improved, excluding Covid, of course. In these two years, MotoE has shown that it can generate an excellent show, even on TV. I have to say that if you watch it on television, you find it more spectacular than if you watch it live; you can follow all the moments of the race from start to finish without missing anything. In terms of sports entertainment, I think the target was perfectly achieved.
For us at Energica, it has been very gratifying to receive genuinely positive feedback from the riders who have raced with our bikes over the past two years. This was a very heterogeneous group that includes former champions of the world motorcycling and endurance world championships; hearing their satisfaction with the performance of the bike has made us very proud of our work".
Are you also satisfied with the reliability of the bikes?
"Yes, of course. Consider that the only problem we had throughout the last year was interference between the transponder and the electronics of the bike at Misano, with Casadei, during the Epole, without affecting the rider's performance. We were calm because we know how reliable our bikes are. Also, this year we have been working hard with Dorna to improve safety further. We involved a third party to carry out an independent evaluation of the electrical system of the bikes and the charging systems to validate all the 'best practices' that have been adopted".
What should we expect for 2021? Will anything change on the bike?
“For this year, there are no substantial changes planned because of the limits imposed by the Covid emergency and in order not to burden the teams' budgets. We already have a new aerodynamic design with a Cx (aerodynamic coefficient, ed.) that significantly reduces air resistance, but Dorna has decided not to adopt it at present for a matter of cost for the teams. We will bring some software updates to improve the bike's monitoring during the battery charging phases; nothing that will be visible to the public".
“Among the innovations brought by the other technical partners, the most important is undoubtedly that of Enel X, which will supply the portable grid recharging system, allowing the extension of the length of the race by one lap compared to previous years. To be precise, the energy for half an extra lap will come from the battery, while the grid rechargers will provide the other half.
Our idea is to bring many innovations in 2022 that will reduce the weight of the bike and improve the performance. The actual plan has not yet been defined with Dorna, but we will test these components to deliver them next year".
The calendar of the MotoE World Cup 2021
This year the calendar has two new rounds: Barcelona and Assen.
“Yes, this year we will have two new tracks, and we will have to understand how the bike reacts and what the performance will be, especially for the battery. The Barcelona race will be in June when the temperature is very hot. The tests we will do in Jerez together with Enel X will be essential, and from there, we will understand how to set up the bikes for the Barcelona race. The category's objective is always to ensure that all riders have the bike's full power to the finish line.
To better understand the topic, a drop in power can occur if the battery falls below a certain level of charge or if it gets too hot. Some riders have a riding style that heats up the battery a lot; others heat it less. Both Dorna and we want to make sure that one rider doesn't reach the last lap with less power than the others, which is a key element of the category to ensure the show".
What do long straights such as Barcelona's entail?
“Tracks with long straights can be critical because of the increase in battery temperature. This is not a critical element regarding energy consumption because it is taken into account when deciding how many laps to do. On the other hand, the temperature is the most important element, especially in Barcelona, which is usually very hot in June. But it's more a phenomenon that concerns the free practice sessions than the race. In free practice, when the riders have 30 minutes, they do more laps than in the race, and they often use the battery even when the charge level drops below 20%, a situation in which the battery heat-up quickly. But let's see, even the Red Bull Ring was supposed to be a critical track for MotoE, but we ran there without any problems".
How important is the cooling system you introduced in 2020?
“We are very happy with the battery cooling system we introduced last year, which allowed us to race regularly at Jerez despite the 37 °C C ambient temperature. The system is used to flow fresh air to the battery while the bike is on track and cool the battery when it returns to the pits before recharging. This operation involves 'blowers' that take air from the atmosphere and force it into the battery. This cooling prevents the battery from reaching the maximum temperature threshold and at the same time extends its life. The air is filtered by a medium that traps impurities and moisture and is then sent directly into the battery to cool the connections between the cells, which are the hottest part".
For many people, the discussion about MotoE is a 'sound yes, sound no' matter. Is the bikes' sound electrical or mechanical?
“It's mechanical. The sound of MotoE was born from a precise marketing requirement of the commercial models: the management didn't want the bikes to be silent. This choice was transferred in the track model. The sound is generated by the gears installed between the electric motor and the pinion. Although they are rarely used because they are noisy and more expensive to be manufactured, we chose spur gears because of the characteristic sound above 20km/h. This choice also has advantages from a technical point of view because spur gears don't generate axial thrust as happens with helical gears".
The closeness between the road and race version is essential for Energica; what elements change in the two bikes' power train?
“The motor is completely identical between the two bikes; what changes is the battery. Throughout 2018 we tested new Lithium Polymer cells for the World Cup, which we then used throughout the first season. At that point, we validated them and also brought them to the road models the following year. So now, from a technological point of view, the two batteries, road and track, are the same; what changes is the number of cells installed in the battery, the track version has a bit more, has a slightly higher voltage and consequently more kWh".
What is the primary value you derive from being the sole supplier for the MotoE World Cup?
“Certainly the value of the brand. Fans or not, Energica is still the manufacturer that Dorna has selected for the single supplier electric championship. We must then prove the reputation that we get from it with the production bikes' quality because it is not enough to supply good racing bikes. The decision to participate in the MotoE World Cup was a great test of force, further underlined by how we saved the championship by rebuilding all the bikes in a very short time after the Jerez fire. Entering the MotoGP world has brought people who would never have thought to talk about electric motorbikes to get to know us. After these two years of racing, we have noticed a change in the perception of our brand and our company".
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