A quick look back at last weekend’s action The Ridge

We may have said it already, but we will say it again: the MotoAmerica Mission Foods Super Hooligan National Championship is one of the fastest growing and competitive domestic classes in motorcycle racing.  Born a mere decade ago as the brainchild of noted designer and customizer Roland Sands, in those days it was a very casual flat-track-inspired event where amateurs vied elbow-to-elbow with incognito pros in converted parking lots and indoor garages in conjunction with custom motorcycle shows like Mama Tried, Hand-Built and the One Show.

Over the years and especially with the recent involvement of MotoAmerica, Super Hooligan has shifted solely to tarmac at national racecourses like Laguna Seca, Daytona and even the Circuit of the Americas.  The raw but friendly rivalry is still there, but the series has also become more polished and competitive, attracting manufacturers and pro teams that are intensifying their presence and who every year, field constantly evolving machinery.

Last year, Super Hooligan hit another milestone with the inclusion of electric into the full race series, a first for Super Hooligan (and indeed, for any other race series.)  The result: a historic podium at COTA and 4th place finish overall for the year from the Energica EVA Ribelle RS piloted by Stefano Mesa and fielded by Tytlers Cycle Racing.

The Modena-based manufacturer brought a fresh boost towards the future of mobility, along with important players such as the main racing partner PETRONAS iona, but also Sonic Equipment, and the 2024 season saw also the arrival of German powerhouse Siemens as a new, official racing partner. Their support is invaluable in helping Energica’s mission to battle on-track against internal-combustion machinery.

In this ever more intense landscape, the TCR team has made significant improvements from the previous year, while battling opponents who have undeniably made their own progress too.  

2024 began with a challenging season debut in March at Daytona (a course notoriously hard on electric thanks to very long straightaways and the 31° banking) followed by this weekend at The Ridge Motorsports Park.  For opposite reasons, this track is another challenging venue for electric machinery. The relatively short start/finish straight combined with a tight first chicane prevents the EV rider from exploiting the immense torque out of the gates, and the lack of long corners impedes maximizing corner speed on the EVA Ribelle.

With that said, MotoAmerica’s stopwatch was quite telling. Stefano Mesa’s fastest qualifying lap at The Ridge in 2023 was a 1:49.232, while this year he clocked in 1:47.947. We’ll do the math for you: 1.285 secs quicker.  He was P6 on the grid one year ago, P7 this time around. Hence the gap to first place narrows down, however, the number of strong riders on competitive machinery grows.

And as a first-ever in Energica’s still embryonic Super Hooligan journey, the Pacific Northwest weather brought a surprise downpour not long before the start of Race One, which carried a bag full of unknowns as Mesa had never ridden the EVA Ribelle in wet conditions prior to Saturday. The encounter itself was more of a race for survival, the with 31-year-old Colombian making it to the finish line in eighth place, dodging the numerous crashes that occurred on the inundated course.

The irony of it all was a red flag situation, which led to a new, four-lap race, triggered by a crash suffered by Jeff Lane, who back in 2019 won the contest to ride the MotoE replica machine at the Circuit of The Americas – the same EGO taken for a spin by former WorldSBK champion and MotoGP star Colin Edwards that same weekend.  Jeff, who right after that COTA experience bought an EGO+ RS and who regularly does track days with it, takes part in the Super Hooligan National Championship with different machinery as the powerful, all-electric sportbike by Energica clearly does not comply with Super Hooligan regulations.

Digression aside, Mesa finished a fully dry Race Two in ninth place, after battling up to the finish line with Hawk Mazzotta. As the second round of the season draws to a close, there is much more to look forward to. Next on the calendar is the WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway (July 12-14), which brings fond memories of the first-ever hole-shot for an EV motorcycle in closed-circuit competition as Stefano stormed to P1 at the start of Race One.

Energica, a still relatively small manufacturer of electric motorcycles, has become widely known for punching above their weight. Taking the fight to bigger, ICE manufacturers demonstrates the can-do mentality that drives the company forward into the future.

After all, every success story starts with an underdog!

We invite you to join us at Laguna Seca, as for a second year in a row, Energica makes history combatting endothermic machines head-to-head in a full-on national race series.

2024 Mission Foods Super Hooligan – Round 3

WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway – Thursday July 12 – Sunday July 14

To watch live on your TV, go to MotoAmerica Live+ at https://www.motoamericaliveplus.com

To view after the races, go to MotoAmerica’s YouTube page at https://www.youtube.com/@MotoAmerica.