The first-ever MotoE race, held on the Sunday morning of the German MotoGP weekend, was very much a step into the unknown.

Nobody knew quite what to expect after a somewhat processional race simulation at Valencia, while damp patches from overnight rain raised the tension further.

Ultimately, the planned seven-lap sprint was halted early when an accident for Lorenzo Savadori damaged an airfence, with the results taken from the end of lap five.

But it had been an entertaining and closely-fought spectacle, with the top four covered by less than one-second and plenty of passing.

Niki Tuuli (Ajo) wrote his name in the history books as the first MotoE race winner - Click Here to read what Tuuli had to say about the race, and here for the thoughts of team boss Aki Ajo.

Meanwhile here are some selected quotes from fellow podium finishers Bradley Smith (second, Sepang Team) and Mike Di Meglio (third, Marc VDS) about what they learned from the debut MotoE encounter.

And where better to start, than the start…

'He who reacts fastest'

With no clutch, it's literally a case of twist-and-go to propel the Energica machines off the start line.

"It's he who reacts fastest!" said Smith.

The Englishman missed the Valencia race simulation due to Aprilia test riding duties, but from watching videos of the event he was able to see that "wide open" off the start was the way to go.

"Pin it. That's what I learned from the video, because you saw Granado wheelie in the race simulation. The only way you can see a front-end come up like that is if someone that just goes flat stick."

Don't creep

While riders could try and get a better jump by opening the throttle slightly and holding the bike still on the front brake while the lights are still red, Smith said it's just not worth the risk.

"The thing is I don’t want to creep. That's the risk that you take [doing that]. You're not recovering from [a jump start penalty] in an eight-lap race.

"There are not really too many secrets to a good start to be honest! I wish there were.

"It's just about being patient and reacting to the lights, but it's kind of eerie because there is no bike noise at all!

Smith advanced from seventh on the grid to first by the end of the opening lap.

"I took advantage of a few tentative riders in the first couple of corners," he said. "Also I was on the 'correct' side of the track, especially to avoid the wet patches, and had a few guys as a reference so just nipped around the outside and went from there."

'If you make a mistake, it's nearly impossible'

While Smith warned that a jump start would be game over, Di Meglio felt the same applies to any mistakes during the race.

"You need to stay near the front because if you drop to seventh or eighth the race is too short to come back. And if you make a mistake, it's nearly impossible," explained the Frenchman.

"I knew that the first lap was very important because in Valencia I was quite far on the grid and, although I managed to make fast lap times, it was impossible to pass the other riders.

"So you need to stay focused and stay in front. When I saw Hector Garzo behind me I said 'if he passes me I won't have chance to fight back and stay on the podium'.

"You need to be like in a Moto3 race, always in front."

Don't back off when overtaken

"Whether it's electric or combustion, the way of racing is kind of similar," said Smith, now the first rider to take podiums in 125GP, Moto2, MotoGP and MotoE.

"The main difference is when you have to try to 'restart' 260kg."

In other words, the hefty weight of a MotoE machine means it's important not to lose momentum.

"When someone passes you on the inside, you have to almost stay on the outside of them, because if you roll off too much and then accelerate again, you've lost so much speed because of the 260kg."

'Unbelievable in the rain'

Although there was no wet MotoE running at the Sachsenring, there has been in winter testing, when the weight proved an advantage.

"The weight of the bike I think is not a big problem and we saw in Jerez [test] when it was completely wet the bike is unbelievable because you have more grip than a normal bike," said Di Meglio.

260kg vs Airfence

With outbraking moves, big lean angles and tyre smoking slides, there was little visual clue to the 100kg of extra weight being carried by a MotoE bike compared to a MotoGP machine.

That is until Savadori's accident sent his bike skipping through a gravel trap before ploughing into an airfence.

The Gresini rider was unhurt, but Smith had already foreseen the risk caused by the added momentum of a fallen MotoE bike at turn one of a race. The Englishman's suggestion is to put bigger spaces between the competitors on the starting grid.

"That's why I put on the table my ideas to separate the grid a little bit and give everybody a little more space. Because the [Savadori accident] happened on lap five, but that can happen on any lap," Smith said.

"We know the weight of the motorcycles. You can't think about it because your job is to race, but we know that danger is out there.

"What can we do about it? Not a lot at the moment, just continue to speak with the organisers, continue to speak with the Safety Commission and continue to assess the situation as we go.

"It's our first race, our first crash in a race and first crash that we've really seen live on television, so we'll start to learn and I'm sure everyone will try to improve from there."

Smith also pointed out that MotoGP riders have also reached the airfence in the same place and that Savadori's fall, where he lost control before even entering the corner, was an unusual accident.

"I don’t know if he got clipped or what, but that bike went on a straight trajectory, so he hadn't even had chance to reduce any speed," Smith said.

"Normally when people crash there they have already started to go in [to the corner] and they've either picked it up, or lost the front and the bike has stopped in the gravel.

"But I've made it to the airfence there before. I think Kallio nearly made it to the airfence last year when he hurt his knee. Pol's made it to the airfence…

"It's this track. We understand where the small run-off areas are and it's like the Petrucci [accident in qualifying], same story.

"We are doing the best we can to make everything as safe as possible, we'll adjust as we go."

'It was a race!'

But the early finish was the only real negative in an otherwise decent debut for such an all-new series, the start of which was postponed by extensive fire damage to bikes and equipment at Jerez.

"It was a race! It wasn't a procession. I enjoyed it. It was good," said Smith. "There were overtakes. You had to be smart, use the slipstream and attack in the right moments.

"As you guys saw, Niki tried to dive up the inside a few times, then ran wide and I could cut back. It's racing out there and that's what's fun.

"It was also nice for me to lead a race! It's been a long time. But I should have done the race simulation in Valencia because I would have been able to figure out a few things that you can only learn when you follow someone and in a race no-one rolls off."

'Niki's figured it out'

As the only MotoE rider also racing in MotoGP, courtesy of his Aprilia wild-cards, Smith is seen as the clear favourite to lift the inaugural MotoE title.

But while the 28-year-old felt missing the Valencia race simulation cost him in terms of "set-up and riding style" he was quick to credit Tuuli - who also dominated the E-Pole qualifying at Sachsenring - for 'figuring out' the MotoE bike.

"Niki is the fastest guy at the moment," Smith said. "He's kind of figured out from day one, but let's say even more so here, how it works.

"I don’t think that riding style is going to work as good in a place like the Red Bull Ring, just because of the nature of that track.

"But there is something definitely there that he's figured out. So that's for me to digest, understand and think about in the next few weeks."

'We don’t need rider aids'

One of the things Smith needs to adapt to is more aggressive use of the throttle, rather than the gentle application of torque required in MotoGP.

The 120kw (160hp) and 270km/h MotoE machines don’t currently offer any electronic assistance, but "with the weight that we have and grip from the Michelin tyres we don’t need those rider aids.

"My problem is that I'm so programmed from the last six years to go 'waaaaaaaaaaaap' [open the throttle gently] because that's what MotoGP is nowadays.

"Especially with the Michelins, you're really feeding it in. Everyone thinks 'Traction Control, just pin it'. No-one is pinning it out there in MotoGP. Everyone is feeling it on and so on and so forth.

"That's where these boys that have come from Moto2, riding a standard CBR engine, they just go into the corner and nail it. And I'm like… 'Alright! I'm going to try and figure it out!' But I need to if I want to be competitive in this championship."

Are all MotoE bikes 'equal'?

As with any single-make series, there will always be small differences in the performance of the machines due to factors such as set-up, rider weight/size and manufacturing tolerances.

"Niki had a little bit more, but then Niki weighs a little bit less and he's a little taller and slim. That could be the difference," said Smith.

"But we are talking one or two ks! It's like being back in the 125cc days where someone might pull one bikelength on you.

"But me and Mike were exactly the same. He could slipstream me and I could slipstream him. And all the other bikes I've seen out there as well."

Former 125cc world champion and 250cc podium finisher Di Meglio believes the added weight of a MotoE bike will magnify any set-up changes.

"I think most of all we need to work on the settings because it's all new and I think when you change something, it changes a lot on this bike because you move a lot of weight around, onto the front or the rear," he said.

"We just need to have more experience."

'We're not here to take over'

The presence of electric-bike racing in the MotoGP paddock is a divisive topic, but Smith emphasised that MotoE has not replaced anything and is simply broadening the show.

"At the end of the day we are a new era, but we're not here to take over," he said. "The start of this championship is just to add another string to the bow of MotoGP.

"If you look at the number of riders from different countries that are now in this paddock, all the different motorcycles and manufacturers that are here, mechanics from around the world and so on.

"I believe that Dorna has done a fantastic job implementing this championship into GPs.

"We get a chance to race in front of 100,000 people. From the TV it looks amazing in my opinion. In qualifying there was the blue smoke coming off the tyres and I can imagine the race was quite interesting to see.

"We are just adding to the show. That's what we are here to do. We are not here to take over. People have their preferences, they can chose 'left' or 'right', but we are here to provide quick, exciting 8-lap races."

Round two of the six-race series will be held at the Austrian MotoGP weekend, in August.

 

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