2013 eFXC (Australian Electric Motorcycle Racing) Review
Jason Morris on Varley and Danny Ripperton on Ripperton racing at Sydney Motorsport Park
As I write this, the 2013 eFXC Australian Electric Superbike Racing season has come to a conclusion. Congratulations to Danny Ripperton from Ripperton Racing for winning the 2013 eFXC championship. This is a good time to review what happened during the 2013 season and in particular focus on the Electric Technology used in these Electric Motorcycles.
There were three Electric Superbikes that started at the season opener:
- Catavolt (Hub Electric Motor from Enertrac with water spray cooling, Motor controllers from Kelly Controls, Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, Daelim chassis);
- Varley (air cooled AC motor from Ultramotive, Motor Controller from Tritium, Lithium Polymer batteries at 450 volts, Honda 600RR chassis); and
- Ripperton (liquid cooled 3 phase dual motor based on Motenergy motors with Ripperton upgrades, Motor Controllers from Kelly Controls, Lithium Polymer batteries at 175 volts using Batrium Battery Management Systems -BMS, Yamaha R1 chassis).
Voltron was supposed to participate half way through the season, but funding became a challenge, hence, Voltron missed out on another season of racing due to funding challenges.
Catavolt in the pits at Wakefield Park
Catavolt were at a disadvantage as there was no development done between their last race in Daytona 2012 and the first round of the eFXC in 2013. This was due to the bike being stuck in transit and delays with customs leaving USA. Jason Morris was riding the Catavolt at round 1and managed to come second after the season opener. The electric hub motor still had cooling issues as there was no time to put the improved hub motor for round 1. With cooling issues with the old motor, the motor controller was capped at 55% power. The new hub motor that was going to be used from round 2 onwards was a liquid cooled unit and that meant that almost twice as much power could be applied to it.
Unfortunately, before round 2, due to an off track incident, the 2011 and 2012 championship winning Catavolt Electric Superbike was destroyed. With Catavolt out of the 2013 eFXC championship, it was sad for spectators and obviously the team and fans. We never got to see this new liquid cooled hub motor in 2013 which was a shame because that would have been a game changer.
I’ve heard that during the year, Catavolt were working on another Electric Superbike based on a Yamaha R6 chassis, so I would expect Catavolt to return in 2014 even stronger. You can be sure that Catavolt team boss, Jon Eggenhuizen, will ensure that the 2014 bike will be featured with interesting innovations and much faster than the previous bike.
Varley at Sydney Motorsport Park
Varley was a new comer to the eFXC in 2013. This Electric Superbike was based on a Honda 600RR chassis. From round 1, it was clear that their Electric Motor had plenty of potential with their high tech Ultramotive Electric Motor and Tritium Motor Controller. However, due to cooling issues, that high speed could not be sustained for the entire race as the Tritium Motor Controller would cut power to save the motor from cooking. Varley still came a credible 3rd in their first outing, with Jeff Phillips riding it. (The cooling issues were later resolved during the season.)
From round 2 onwards, Jeff Phillips vacated his seat so Jason Morris could continue racing. Jason fitted well into his new team and used his wealth of motorcycle racing experience to develop the Varley Electric Superbike even further.
Varley achieved their first victory at the last round of the eFXC championship which is an excellent result considering it was Varley’s first year in the championship. The potential of their motor as seen in round 1
Ripperton at Sydney Motorsport Park with the Ripperton Bike Hoist.
During 2012, Danny Ripperton from Ripperton Racing was developing a new dual Electric Motor. After being runner up during the 2011 and 2012 eFXC championships, 2013 was going to be Danny Ripperton’s year.
Round 1 saw the Ripperton Electric Superbike win convincingly against Catavolt and Varley. The Ripperton bike ran flawlessly. For each race, it had the important ingredients of
- reliability; and
Danny Ripperton on the Ripperton Racing Electric Super Bike also won rounds 2 and 3 of the eFXC with Jason Morris on the Varley coming second with the exception of a DNF (did not finish) in race 1 of round 2 due to a CAN wiring issue.
In round 4, Danny Ripperton came 2nd in both races and it was several seconds behind Jason Morris on the Varley. Although Varley have made massive improvements during the season, it also appears that Danny Ripperton minimized his risk as he only needed to finish behind Jason Morris in both races to secure the 2013 eFXC rider’s title.
1st Ripperton Racing
1st Danny Ripperton
2nd Jason Morris
3rd Jeff Phillips
It was clear from the start of the season that Varley had plenty of potential and after a few teething issues, that potential was realized towards the end of the season resulting in victories at the final round.
The research and development Ripperton did prior to the season paid off with straight wins for the first three round and strong finishes for the final round. The bike and rider was fast and consistent which resulted in winning the championship convincingly.
Catavolt was disadvantaged due to circumstances and off track incidents that was outside and beyond their control.
What Could 2014 Look Like?
It is almost certain that Varley will be back with an improved version of their current Electric Superbike. Expect a bigger battery pack in 2014. They may even have another Electric Superbike with a purpose built chassis (ie. a bike designed from a ‘clean sheet of paper’) so it will be interesting to see what that bike looks like.
Ripperton is likely to expand with a dedicated rider so Danny Ripperton can focus on research and development. He is currently looking for a rider so check out his advertisement. The current bike is still very fast and one way to improve lap times is to have a rider whose mass is under 65kg (143 lbs) and shorter than Danny Ripperton.
Catavolt will likely have the water cooled hub motor and they will likely have the controller run more power though it.
It would be nice if there was some certainty on Voltron’s future. In my opinion, Voltron needs to find sponsors and I would go as far and say that perhaps build two bikes and sell one to an established racing team that is looking to break into Electric Superbikes.
There is talk of a privateer team bringing some Bramo’s to race in Australia. That would be great for the championship if that were to occur.
This is Al Bunzel signing out.
P.S. Check out evmotorcycle.org as they will be releasing a DVD for the 2013 eFXC season in the next few weeks.