Niki Tuuli and the Ajo team dominated the inaugural MotoE event at Sachsenring earlier this month claiming pole position, fastest lap and race victory.

Tuuli had been short of options after being dropped by the Sepang Moto2 team at the end of last season, but team boss and compatriot Aki Ajo had no hesitation in signing the World Supersport race winner up as his lone rider for the new electric-bike class.

"I think the same basic [rider] qualities apply in a new championship," said Ajo, who has overseen world titles for the likes of Marc Marquez, Brad Binder and Johann Zarco.

"Niki has a positive working attitude, he has a good feel for the bike and how the machine reacts to his input. Furthermore, he is a strong match with our team, so we can help each other to find the best performance from the rider and the bike.

"Niki is also someone who listens and is willing to take feedback and develop, which is very important, especially in a new championship.”

Ajo added: "Niki has worked really hard: he has been happy to learn new things and listen to our staff to get more information. He was already fast in the tests, but I see he has developed especially in understanding the bike.

"He not only listens to the team but he also listens to the bike, which is what he needs to go fast.”

Indeed, with all MotoE competitors using the same Energica-built machines, Ajo puts even more emphasis than usual on the rider.

"For us working with riders has always been important, and this series especially highlights that part of the job," he said. "The machines are evenly matched and the staff is limited, so we emphasise highly on working with the rider to assist him in performing well in all the areas, and then we use the set-up to help him achieve his best potential level.

"The bikes are quite ready for the high-level competition as we could see from the first race in Sachsenring already. Mostly I think we have encountered only the normal set-up things - learning how the bike works and how to best use it with our rider - so quite the standard racing stuff, actually."

The race itself saw Tuuli initially drop from pole position as he adapted to a softer bike setting in response to damp patches, before fighting through to take the lead on lap four.

The planned seven-lap encounter came to an early end due to airfence damage, with results at the completion of lap five handing Tuuli a 0.442s victory over Bradley Smith. Mike di Meglio completed a podium covered by just 0.567s.

"I thought there would be some close racing, as the bikes are similar and the series has really strong and experienced riders, so this wasn't much of a surprise," said Ajo. "Still, maybe the intensity of the racing was a revelation, so it was an exciting race for sure!"

Despite Tuuli's early title lead, Ajo is keeping his feet on the ground for the remaining five races.

"It is the first season of the new series, and we are learning all the time. Clearly we aim to be as high as possible, and try our best to win - this is why we race of course," he said.

"I think that the most important point is that we remember that anything can happen and the other teams with their riders are also doing a great job, so we need to keep working at our best level, and then in the end I hope we get the reward for that…"

The next MotoE race will be held as part of the Austrian MotoGP weekend, at the Red Bull Ring, in early August.

 

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