DALEY Mathison and the University of Nottingham squad made world history this weekend by winning outright on a petrol-powered grid from the back row at Donington Park. Report by Aaron League - UK Club Sport. Click for full report
The reigning Isle of Man TT Zero runners-up rebounded from a Saturday overheating issue to win at the first round of the 2018 Moto E Championship, beating a full grid of combustion-engined bikes by over six seconds to take the overall victory.
Mathison had stormed to pole position early Saturday morning at the Leicestershire circuit, heading up the 32-bike grid that consisted of Formula 400s, Desmo Dues and Formula 125s.
The Uni of Nottingham bike has been the out-and-out favourite for a few years in the MotoE series., but it’s now ready to tackle petrol-powered bikes…
And when the lights went out, the multi-time TT podium finisher stormed off ahead of the pack, leading F400 rider Bradley Richman and clocking the fastest lap of anyone on the track.
But on lap five of eight, disaster struck and the UoN bike’s power dropped off dramatically, meaning Mathison lost the lead and was forced to limp home while Thijs Peteers took the Moto E honours for the Dutch Electric Superbike Twente squad.
With his retirement, Mathison had to start from the middle of the back row in Sunday’s first race. But after a lightning start on the electric machine, he was up to fifth at Redgate and at the front within just a few more corners as he led the pack by over a second on the very first lap.
From there, no one could stop the UoN rider from stretching a lead as he made world history by becoming the first electric bike racer to win outright on a mixed short circuit grid.
In the final race of the weekend, Mathison started on pole again and fired off into the lead, two seconds ahead as he came around to complete the first lap. But disaster struck when he was forced to reset the bike and bring it to a stop. And by the time he got going again, he had dropped to 28th as Peteers led the order.
The new Electric Superbike Twente squad celebrating their win after Mathison’s bike lost power on Saturday…
Mathison wasn’t ready to throw in the towel yet, however, and the pole-man used the UoN bike’s new power settings to move up to 20th at the end of lap two and 12th on the very next lap.
While F400 rider Tim Bradley passed Peteers’ battery-powered Twente machine at the head of the pack, Mathison had carved up to fourth and by the penultimate lap he was sitting pretty in second, having demolished the Moto E record with a 1:15.485s, beating his own personal best by over four seconds.
And although he was a clear winner of the electric class, Mathison fell just over a second short of another overall win as Bradley took victory for the 400cc bikes.
But with his historic achievement already in the bag and the championship lead to boot heading to the next round at Assen later this month, the two-time champ feels the bike is only going to get better.
“I really wanted to win that race overall,” he told UK Clubsport. “But it could have gone a lot of different ways with the weather being on and off and starting so far back.
“I didn’t make things easy starting at the back of the grid after where I finished on Saturday and I was a bit worried about it because the bike gets off the line so quickly and there were so many lads in front of me.
It’s all business in the Uni garage as the Nottingham students crack away with power adjustments between races…
“Because of the problems we had with overheating on Saturday, I had to be cautious so I didn’t take off like a scalded cat, but I think I was up to fifth before the first corner and from there it was just a matter of picking my way through.
“I tried to be careful about how hard I pushed, so I put in a few fast laps and then just rolled off and brought it home. It was important for the championship to get those points.”
Mathison says now that the University squad has the power they’re looking for, he feels the biggest gains will be in chassis and suspension development – which could help them tackle the mighty Mugens next year at the TT.
“What we need to do now is get the chassis right. I’m struggling to make the thing turn and hold the line so I’m running wide. At the minute it doesn’t matter because of our pace but when I start really getting pushed by another electric bike, that’s where we will gain a lot.
“Whether people like them or hate them, they are the class of the future.”Return to news