Isle of Man TT star Michael Rutter narrowly missed out on cracking the prestigious 100mph mark for an electric bike for the first time in today’s SES TT Zero Race.
He took his Segway MotoCzysz machine to an electric bike record 99.64mph lap, breaking the record that his team-mate Mark Miller set last year, but narrowly missing out on the £10,000 prize fund allocated by the Isle of Man Government for the first electric bike team to achieve a 100mph average speed for the 37¾ mile circuit.
2010 TT Zero Race winner Mark Miller went off in the Number 1 position from Glencrutchery Road with riders starting at 10 second intervals in the time trial race. He was followed by his team-mate Michael Rutter who had passed him on the road by the first checkpoint at Glen Helen with John Burrrows, riding for Lightning Motorcycles running in third.
Russ Mountford (Brunel X Team) and George Spence for the ION Horse Ecotricity Kingston University outfit were next on the road, the first two of four University outfits competing for the £5000 University Prize. Japanese debut outfit Team Prozza and leading American University Massachusetts Institute of Technology were next on the roads with Dan Kneen (ManTTx) and Roy Richardson (Imperial) completing the field.
The nine machines that started all made it to Ballaugh Bridge, with Rutter extending his lead to 102.853mph, maintaining a gap of 10 seconds on corrected time with both Segway Racing MotoCzysz outfits running together on the road. John Burrows, George Spence and Russ Mountford made up the top five with all nine machines reaching the second checkpoint although Dan Kneen and Russ Mountford were reported to have dropped out by Sulby Bridge and Glenduff respectively.
Rutter topped the speed trap times at Sulby, posting an impressive 149.5mph, and he later revealed in the post race press conference that he thought that the bike could have gone even quicker but held back to conserve power.
The MotoCzysz pair still topped the leaderboard by Ramsey hairpin but were joined in the top three by George Spence, the Kingston outfit posting an impressive average of 95mph to Ramsey, and the same trio held the top three positions at Cronk-ny-Mona with Brew, Matsushita and Burrows the only other outfits still on the course.
Rutter was the first to finish and agonizingly clocked 99.604mph for the lap (22.43.68) to narrowly miss out on being the first electric bike rider to achieve a ton, 54 years after Bob McIntyre achieved it on a conventional bike. He was followed home by Mark Miller (98.288mph) and George Spence (88.435mph), who took the University Prize for Kingston. Allan Brew (MIT) and Yoshinari Matsushita completed the top five with John Burrows also achieving a finish by pushing his machine over the line.
"99.6mph - that’s the story of my life. I tried to conserve battery life and stay smooth. It’s a totally different way of riding, but I really enjoyed it. We only saw the bike on Wednesday, so I think if we had more time there would be more to come set-up wise."