Nicolas Gourbert is the Executive Director of MotoE World Cup; it is up to him to ensure that the electric class of MotoGP grows and establishes itself as one of the world's leading motorcycle events. After the last race of 2020, at Le Mans, we met him to review the season and to find out what to expect from the next one. This is what he explained to us.
“Apart from the Covid situation, we are very happy about the 2020 season because we completed seven races, which was our plan. Okay, they are not exactly the ones scheduled in the beginning and with the same timing; nevertheless, we achieved the expected overall number of races. Considering the Covid situation, it was great to fulfill our commitment. Also, I’m very happy because we demonstrated one more time that electric racing is as interesting as petrol racing. We had a lot of entertaining racing with great fights and a lot of overtakes."
“This year, if we go more into details, we had about 30% new riders, and most of them went up to speed very quickly. From the first race in Jerez, we had some rookies like Torres, Aegerter, Medina and Tulovic able to do very fast laps and be on top, although it was not possible to do as many tests as we thought (the second preseason test at Jerez in April was cancelled due to Covid – ed.). Even with very short track time on the bike before the first race, these riders quickly learned how to use it. If it had been only one guy, you could have thought that was his value, but because three or four did it, it means that the bike is easy to ride and adapt to. This demonstrates that the MotoE bike is not so different from a petrol bike, and this is an excellent achievement by Energica, Michelin, Öhlins and all partners involved.
This element is very important for us because riders can be interested in and attracted by the class. Because the time to adapt is very short, they can join the Cup and show their value in front of the team managers of the MotoGP World Championship. Last year, I was very happy when Hector Garzo had the chance to sign a two-year contract with a top team in the Moto2 World Championship after a great season in MotoE. (Garzò signed a contract with Pons Racing and achieved his first podium in Moto2 at Valencia – ed.)."
What exceeded your expectations and what needs to be improved next year?
“One item that exceeded our expectations is the performance improvement between 2020 and the year before. If we compare the best lap time in Jerez in 2019, during the pre-season test, and the track record set this year by Eric Granado, the improvement was 1,5 seconds; that’s a lot! Even you consider the new tyres, the improved torque, the suspensions, and the rider's experience, 1,5 seconds in one season, it’s a lot. And it was not only by the experience riders but also by the rookies of the class like Aegerter. I was not expecting that much, frankly speaking.
Another good news is that we haven't had any technical issues during racing with eighteen riders, which is a dream for new technology."
“If I have to mention a negative point, well, at the beginning of the season, we thought we would be ready with the new chargers, but it was not possible because of the Covid issue. Before deploying any new component in a race weekend, we must be sure that the teams have a proper familiarization with it, and we need a test session to verify the equipment, the procedure and so on.
Despite the fact that the new chargers were almost ready, it has been impossible to have a test session before the start of the season. Because of that, we decided to postpone to 2021 the use of the new recharging stations, both the main ones in the Epaddock and the mobile units." (the latter serves to recharge the battery on the grid after the sighting lap – ed.)
Here the details of the charging system of the MotoE
How was the performance of the new tyres?
“It was really positive. For me, the main improvement was due to the rear tyre; it has a new profile, new material, and new compound. This year we had less high-side than last year, and we reduced a lot the movements of the bike when the riders accelerate out of the corners. These are the two most important advantages of the new rear tyre. I think that the main advantage of that tyres is in safety, even before the performance improvement given by the extra grip. The actual configuration is a better balance between the front and the rear tyre. I have no doubt at all: this one is a better tyre. It comes from MotoGP as like the front, and it has a new compound designed specifically for short races. I think that the major part of the lap time’s improvement comes from the tyres. Michelin brought the new tyres at Jerez for the first test in March. For me, it was surprising because, usually, it is quite difficult to change the front tyre because riders are used to the old ones . When you bring a new front tyre for testing, even it is much better than the old one, it is difficult to have more than 80% of the riders happy with it. Because of it, I was really surprised when about 15 out of 18 riders promoted the new tyre."
"The compound of both front and rear was changed to use recycled materials and biomaterials (here the details of the MotoE Slick 2020 by Michelin), but the rear tyre also has a new shape and a new structure compared to the 2019 tyre. Last year, we saw many rear wheel movements, which makes more difficult for the riders to find the limit.
In 2021, the bike will be very similar to the actual one because of the time lost in the first part of the year due to Covid. This year Energica improved the torque and introduced the battery air cooling system, and they will continue working on that side. In 2021 we are expecting a new tyre by Michelin, but the major improvement will be the chargers on the grid, which will improve the race length by one lap." (Here you can find mode details on the Michelin tyres for MotoE 2020).
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