Brunel X-Team Finishes Strong At TT Zero, Regardless of DNS

Brunel X-Team (left to right) Adam White, Edmund Bright, Paul Owen, Koen Matthys, Gregory Da Santos, Timothy Clarke

During the Isle Of Man TT Supersport Race 2, Paul Owen was seconds behind rider Paul Dobbs. Both were riding a race they loved, pushing for a fast average speed and to make a good showing for their sponsors. A pre-race comment by Owen warned Dobbs “I’m only 10 seconds behind you, mate.” The comment was returned with a smile that will most likely remain etched in Owen’s memory forever. During the race, Paul Dobbs suffered a fatal crash near Ballygairy.

When Owen saw the track marshall waving the yellow flag, he stopped to help Dobbs, and in doing so, threw away his race and also missed his chance to ride in TT Zero on the Brunel X-Team BX-10 electric motorcycle. No one, including Brunel University team, would have it any other way. Paul Owen is a hero and may Paul Dobbs rest in peace after pursuing his passion.

I won’t pretend to understand the culture and history that make up the Isle Of Man TT, but it has to be one of the coolest races out there. Pictures of wide open superbikes on the edge of traction, inches from stone walls, flying through the air and struggling to toss their riders, has captured my imagination for years. If a rider breaks down, he will have a cheese sandwich and a beer handed to him by fans. Riders live the TT year round and the fans respect that. The focus and dedication of these riders makes the selfless actions of Paul Owen even more impressive. However, by stopping to help his friend, some long, hard fights ended short of their goals.

Days prior to this tragedy, four engineering students and team leader Dr. Koen Matthys from Brunel University, West London, were fighting against the clock to fix a faulty motor controller on their BX-10 electric bike. They had been working furiously since April 2010 on the second generation of the BX series. In 2009, the BX-09 finished 6th place in the TTXGP Best Buy Pro Class at Isle Of Man TT. Rider Steven Harper pushed the Agni 95-powered bike across the finish line after the batteries were depleted. Considering most of the Agni 95 motored bikes DNF’d due to over-stressing the motor, this was a significant accomplishment.

For 2010, Brunel X-Team was back with a slick-looking bike sponsored by Speedycom. The BX-10 was designed around the race proven “2 In The Breeze” twin Agni 95R electric drive suspended from a Triumph 675 chassis. Team Agni took 1st place last year with this electric drive design. Last minute help from Agni gurus Arvind Rabadia and Cedric Lynch could have only helped make a 2010 podium finish a possibility for X-Team. Hey, it was the least they could do. After all, the Brunel students helped Team Agni scramble to build Jenny Tinmouth’s 4th place finishing Agni Z2 days before the final.

All of this hard work culminated in a huge accomplishment, but with a different ending than the team expected. When the Brunel X-team heard Paul Owen could not make it back in time for the race, they tried to secure a backup rider but officials denied the request as the proper insurance was not in place.

At the start of the TT Zero race, Brunel X-Team rolled the bike they worked so hard to prepare to the starting line proud of their work and knowing they went as far as they could. The disappointment they surely felt was calmed, not doubt, by their association with a true professional and loyal friend whose name was printed clearly on the windshield: “Paul Owen”

Brunel X-Team did not pass the starting line of TT Zero but they did prove they have a unique and rare ability to build a reliable, powerful electric drive motorcycle under the type of pressure that would cause most to pack it up. No doubt they will be back in 2011 with Paul Owen pushing the limits of electric drive. A team of heros in the UK needs some sponsors. Any takers?

Read below for more information about the Brunel X-Team members:

Dr Koen Matthys

Dr Koen Matths is the Team Manager of the Brunel X motorcycle racing team. Koen is responsible for the overall running of the team and is chief designer.

Koen’s Profile: Koen has an electro-mechanical engineering background and is a Lecturer in the School of Engineering and Design at Brunel University. His experience is in engineering design, mechatronics, materials and manufacturing. As part of his current research portfolio, Koen is partnering with the composites, racing and aerospace industry to contribute to low carbon transport design innovations in general and to sustainable motorsport design solutions in specific. Koen is an experienced motorcycle road rider with track experience and is able to translate the rider feedback to the design engineering team.

The student contributors are third year BEng (Bachelor of Engineering) and MEng (Master of Engineering) students who intend to continue their high standards achieved throughout previous years. Through industry placement and personal motivation, all students bring relevant individual experience to the team, as detailed below:

Mr Edmund Bright
Mr Edmund Bright is the Crew Chief of the Brunel X motorcycle racing team. Ed is responsible for the overall running of the design engineering team and reports to the chief designer.

Ed’s Profile: Ed is a 3rd year Mechanical Engineering MEng student. Ed returned to Brunel from a year placement at Thales Training & Simulation in the Hardware Engineering Department. He learnt many skills during his placement that he has been able to apply to the Electric Motorcycle project as well as learning new ones. Ed hopes to carry on the Electric Motorcycle project during the final year of his MEng course because it has been an exciting project and has many potential career paths.

Mr Gregory Da Santos

Mr Gregory Da Santos is the Motor and Control Design Engineer. Greg is responsible for the DC motor configuration, electric controller and power transmission.

Greg’s Profile: Greg is a final year student studying Mechanical Engineering with Automotive Design. He has spent a placement year working for General Motors, and towards the end of the year he saw great investments in electric and hybrid technologies. Greg has always been interested in alternative methods of propulsion; the zero-emissions, direct drive and high efficiency have made the BX-10 an interesting project to work on. The knowledge and experience gained working with electric vehicles will be hugely beneficial when working on future automotive technologies.

Mr Timothy Clarke

Mr Timothy Clarke is the Battery Packaging Design Engineer. Tim is responsible for the battery packaging, and overall weight distribution and handling of the bike.

Tim’s Profile: Tim is a 3rd year Mechanical Engineering MEng student. In the previous academic year he completed a placement with a company called Ultra Electronics, a company providing a variety of products mainly aimed at the defence industry. During the placement, Tim undertook various roles in the company and acquired many skills that he has been able to bring to the Electric Motorcycle. Tim’s intention is to continue with the Electric Motorcycle project throughout his final year, as he believes in the future importance of this low carbon project and realizes the many interesting career paths that will derive from it.

Mr Adam White

Mr Adam White is the Battery Management Design Engineer. Adam is responsible for the battery management and overall energy storage and delivery performance of the battery packs.

Adam’s profile: Adam is a 3rd year Mechanical Engineering MEng student. He has progressed through the University from the Foundations of Engineering course. Adam has a keen interest in motor bikes and has practical experience with the design and build of two wheeled transport vehicles. Being a member of the Brunel X team has focused his drive to be an engineer, particularly in the field of emerging green technologies.

Ms Tania Cutter
is the Marketing Officer of the Brunel X motorcycle racing team. Tania is responsible for the marketing tools and overall image of the team.

Mr Michael Low is the Financial Officer of the Brunel X motorcycle racing team. Michael is in charge of the team budget and all non-technical expenditure.

Mr John Langdon is the Technical Officer of the Brunel X motorcycle racing team. John is supervisor for the technical staff and responsible for all technical expenditure, logistics and supplies.

Mr Peter Wilson is the Workshop Technician (Mechanics) of the Brunel X motorcycle racing team. Peter is experienced in manufacturing and will ensure that components and structures manufactured by the design engineering team in the workshop are safe and true to the designs.

Mr Clive Barrett is the Workshop Technician (Electronics) of the Brunel X motorcycle racing team. Clive is experienced in electronics and will ensure that components and circuitry built by the design engineering team in the workshop are safe and true to the designs.

Be Sociable, Share!

5 Responses

Subscribe to comments via RSS

  1. Written by Domenick
    on June 18, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Great story!

    Thanks for that.

  2. […] failure that is fairly common in these early days of electric motorcycle racing. Instead, it was a heroic act by their rider, Paul Owen that caused him to miss the TT Zero race. They did however race in the […]

  3. Written by Jim
    on June 7, 2011 at 12:20 am

    Anyone else notice the egregious wiring mistake in this photo?×450.jpg

  4. Written by John Adamo
    on June 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Hey Jim, no but I am curious considering Cedric and Arvind helped them set up the bike.

  5. Written by Mustafa
    on April 29, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I think Jim is talking about the exposed wiring connection on the motor. Although there is a little chance of a metallic object touching those leads, the wire wrapped in black insulation can come loose due to a knock and create a seriously big spark (judging from the gauge of those wires).

    I like the ‘Brunel riding’ logo, although Izzy would have lost his 10 gallon riding around the isle like that.

Subscribe to comments via RSS