October 13, 2015, by UoN E-Racing Team
2015 European MotoE Champions!
Blog post written by the UoN E-Racing Team – Marco Degano, Jonathan Blissett, Miquel Gimeno-Fabra and Pat Wheeler.
For the Nottingham Team, the Portimao Race started 24 hours after arriving back from Pembrey, as the team had a long drive to Portugal.
The journey went smoothly and, after three days of driving, they arrived at the track to find an official MacLaren test underway, so no teams were allowed in the complex. This included the team’s Chinese rivals, who were found relaxing in the car park. The team’s first impressions of the Autodrome of Algarve was that it was a purpose-built F1-MotoGP track with excellent facilities, one that would lend itself to a spectacular finale.
After a while the track was opened and the team found the BMW track day organiser, who guided them to their garage. The day closed with the team setting up the garage and making sure that the bike had survived the trip, along with the accompanying Saietta Agni machine brought from Pembrey.
The positives from Pembrey were confirmed on Friday, when the team sent the bike out for a practice with their noisier, petrol-bike cousins – three outings led to no problems and, after observing that the electric bike was lagging behind the petrol bikes on just the main straight, the team changed the gear ratio to give more top speed. This enabled the rider, Daley Mathieson, to keep pace with the petrol bikes.
With the University bike now ready, the team was delighted to be joined by representatives of their main sponsor, Murata, who always seem to bring good fortune. The Saturday started with no surprises and the bike qualified on pole, with a flamboyant Daley soon popping wheelies and leaving black marks on the tarmac! He’d learnt the layout of the track extremely quickly, with some help from his Playstation!
As Portimao was the last round of MotoE, three races were planned. With warmer weather than the bike had experienced previously, the team won the first sprint race, leaving them only one victory short of securing the title. For the first time, the bike hit the thermal limit of the existing controller (which the team added only the night before!) so the torque was automatically reduced marginally to stay within specs. The team’s confidence was bolstered by their data-logging, which confirmed that the thermal protection was working as intended.
With tension rising, the weather conditions were optimal for the first race on Sunday. Riding on warm tarmac, in cool air, Daley won the race. He set consecutive lap records and almost broke the 2 minute barrier. But, most importantly Daley won the 25 points that arithmetically made the team 2015 European EMoto Champions!
There was no time for immediate celebrations – the team was keen to finish the weekend by winning a longer race and in bad weather, in order to dispel any doubts about the reliability of their machine.
The inclement weather made the final tyre choice tricky, and the team decided to use wet tyres just 10 minutes before the race – some sections of the track were wetter than others and the tarmac temperature had dropped by 15°C. Daley took it easy on the first lap because he had never ridden the bike in wet conditions. This added to the tension as the Saietta Agni bike was closer than usual, having made the same tyre choice as the University team. But, after two laps, Daley’s experience enabled him to handle the bike in the challenging track conditions, thus improving significantly his pace, and allowing him ultimately to lap most of the field. Then it was time for Daley’s biggest burnout, and the celebrations lasted well into the night!
Another highlight of the Portimao weekend was to see Daley riding a BMW-1000RR, which allowed him to see how favourably the UON-01 electric bike compared. Daley first rode the BMW between the team’s practice sessions and posted a competitive lap time, which was just two seconds faster than his electric time. On day 2 Daley tried the BMW again, this time with the anti-wheelie and traction control systems removed – yet in the race that followed, he won the championship with a fastest lap three seconds faster than the BMW.
A brilliant weekend and a brilliant result – the team are delighted to be 2015 European MotoE Champions and are already making plans for the 2016 season!
Additional photos taken by Bernadette Frankland, used with thanks.