The MotoGP season is on the starting blocks and the Portuguese Grand Prix in Portimao is scheduled for the end of next week. For the MotoE world championship - the electric counterpart of the prototype races - we will instead have to wait for the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, the fifth of the year, on May 14th.
The start will therefore coincide with the thousandth Grand Prix in history. MotoE will participate in each European round of the World Championship between May and the beginning of September, with 16 races, two in each Grand Prix. The final round of the season will be at the Misano World Circuit.
The time schedule, as is known, has been revolutionized: MotoE will start on Friday morning at 8.25 with first practice. The second session at 12.25. The times will then be combined to determine the direct participants for Q1 and Q2, with qualifying at 5pm. Q1 and Q2 will be broadcast live and free on YouTube. Saturday the key day with two races. The first will start at 12:10, immediately after qualifying for the MotoGP class. It will be the first race of the weekend, before the Moto3 and Moto2 qualifying sessions, as well as the MotoGP sprint race. Powered by Enel X Way, the electric racing will continue with the second race at 4.10pm.
There is an epochal turning point between the transition from the manufacturer Energica to Ducati and the goal for the electric World Championship is to give maximum visibility to spectators, to enhance this series that is all about sustainable motoring.
"I believe that the MotoE enthusiasts will be the same ones who follow the other categories, maybe young people will come who approach motorcycling for the first time - explained Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta - The start, in 2019, you will remember, was difficult: there was a fire in the paddock due to a short circuit in the battery chargers, but in a few years the technological leap forward has been incredible”.
"It is undeniable - echoed Roberto Canè, responsible for the development of the V21L for the Borgo Panigale manufacturer – that in the field of endothermic engines progress is made by fractions, here there are leaps of units".
“This is a traveling laboratory for us - immediately echoed Claudio Domenicali, Ducati CEO - it is one of the pillars of our long-term strategy. The V21L project came about with a new group of engineers from Ducati and Ducati Corse and then, let's not deny it, there was a contribution from the Volkswagen group, in terms of batteries. But we are also working on synthetic fuels that will make internal combustion engines sustainable. To understand where this can lead us, we need to get our hands dirty, and tackle something real like racing".
Domenicali: "I tested it at Mugello, it's a Ducati, but we won't see it in production soon"
So will we soon see an electric Ducati?
“Not in the short or medium term. If we talk about ease and pleasure of riding, I would say that the Ducati MotoE is already ready: I personally tested it at Mugello and I can say that after a few minutes you forget what you are riding and concentrate on the usual things, trajectories, throttle opening, braking. Obviously in the future it will be necessary for those who buy an electric Ducati to have the same feelings and riding pleasure as those who own an endothermic Ducati. The biggest stumbling block is the development of the batteries, but we are working on it: there is already a MotoE Ducati prototype in addition to the one that will be seen on the track this year".
In short, not full speed ahead on electrics, but at least half ahead. Perhaps the transition to electric, especially four wheels, will not take place in 2035, it will certainly take a little longer, and there will probably be a long period of coexistence thanks to synthetic fuels, but certainly the interest of the industry is real. So real that Michelin, which equips the Ducati, will use high performance slick tires whose materials come 50% from renewable sources...and what sources: orange peel, fruit, flowers. This is truly science fiction, as confirmed by Philippe Jacquin, head of the Clermont Ferrand house.
"It is a technology that will cost less and less over the years and will allow us to produce ecological tires, without affecting environmental resources".
It is no coincidence that the presentation of the MotoE world championship took place on the Vallelunga circuit. Its Director, Alfredo Scala and his right-hand man Francesco Cassioli have transformed the track on the outskirts of Rome into a jewel of a racetrack that represents a pole of excellence in the pursuit of sustainable management policies and attention for the environment. Inside there are photovoltaic panels capable of producing 2 million kWh in a year, 30% more than the consumption of the entire Vallelunga complex. And in the paddock there are 10 Enel X Way electric charging stations and 4 electrified boxes that make Vallelunga the first Smart Racing Circuit in the world.
"The electrification of wheeled mobility is an important thing for the planet - concluded Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel - we don't sponsor a rider or a team, but a championship like this which is the best way to demonstrate how a technology is always better and the fact that it is used in racing confirms it as an applicable solution. Competition helps to improve materials and solutions and make them more efficient, easier to use and more common in daily use, a very effective way of accelerating technologies" .
One last detail that adds a touch of humanity and Bolognese spirit to this future.
"One day some MotoE project engineers came to me and said: we have decided that every MotoE produced must have a female name", concluded Domenicali.
The number 01 that was exhibited in Vallelunga is called 'Hope'.
After the first official tests at Jerez at the beginning of March, the world championship series will once again see all the riders on track at Barcelona on 3-5 April before the series then officially gets underway on May 13 with the French Grand Prix at Le Mans. The calendar then includes Mugello (June 10), Sachsenring (June 17) and Assen (June 24). After the summer break, the Ducati MotoE bikes will be back on track at Silverstone on August 5, before facing the three final Grands Prix at the Red Bull Ring (August 19), Catalunya (September 2) and Misano (September 9). HERE IS THE CALENDAR.
In the cover photo: Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports, Francesco Starace, CEO of Enel, Elisabetta Ripa, CEO of Enel X Way, Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor, Giovanni Copioli, FIM Vice President