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Team Stark Future Ready to tackle AX Fest this weekend!

Team Stark Future Ready to tackle AX Fest this weekend!

Motocross legend Sebastien Tortelli is bringing a historic new team to the Arenacross Festival this weekend, in the shape of the all-new 100% Electric Stark Future squad!

Words: Ben Rumbold, Images: Stark

Yes, you are reading that correctly – an all-electric bike, the Stark Varg, is going to be competing for an official national dirt-bike championship for the very first time, in a points-scoring capacity, with former British Champion Arnaud Tonus and his teammates lining up against regulation petrol-engined machinery, ridden by such established pros as Conrad Mewse and Tommy Searle.

The future is now. Machines like this will be on stands in the paddock, and on the start line, for Arenacross Fest this weekend.

Double World Champion and Stark test rider Tortelli himself himself picks up the story: “We were invited to race Arenacross last year but were not ready, so now after two years of testing, the machine is good to line up. We started preparation for AX Fest in mid-July, and we’re very excited to be racing not only for rider points, but also for a team championship.”

The entry of an electric bike throws up a ton of questions, but the main ones must be about the charging, the durability, and the performance of such a machine. “We will charge the Stark onsite, but we only need to do this between each night. One charge on each bike will be enough for the whole day’s programme,” says Sebastien. “The Stark will produce up to 80 bhp, compared to a top 450 which could be about 70, so we will be on a level playing field with the other bikes.”

It has been tested in Sebastien’s native France, both in the French Supercross series, although not counting for points, and in the Women’s outdoor series, as well as many local races.

“Thomas Do raced the Varg in French Supercross races and a 15-minute main event took around 20% of the battery to complete.” Development of the charging and the use of the power is  constant progression for the machine, which is already proving to be rapid away from the starting line, as proved by young Brit Eddie Jay Wade in the most recent Tommy Searle vlog.

Wade says that “it does feel a lot faster than a normal bike, and also easier once you get used to it as you don’t have to worry about gears, a clutch, or the revs you are in, as it is always in ‘the sweet spot’ as you would call it.  The frame is rigid and solid, a bit like an Austrian bike, which is what I like. It also feels a lot lighter when you are riding even though the weight is similar to a normal bike. I have never set foot on an AX track before, so I am in at the deep end but have picked it up quite quickly. The plan is to do the full AX Tour on the Stark bike.” He is joined by former AX star Carl Osterman, as well as the 2011 British MX2 Champion, 32-year-old Swiss star Arnaud Tonus.

Arenacross has just a single class for the Pros, so although there is no concern for this series, what about the possibility of the Stark, or any other electric bike, competing against 250cc bikes and not just 450s? Sebastien explains in his usual cool and laid-back, but still matter-of-fact manner, that “We are able to send live data from the bike which shows how much power is being passed through to the rear wheel. We have been testing a power limiter which can be adjusted to keep this to the level of a 250 four-stroke, and then openly send the live data to any monitoring equipment that federations and race organisers want to use for making sure we are not gaining an unfair advantage.”

Speaking to a few technical inspectors at the Revo British round, there were dubious looks as to how that would be policed and checked, but that is maybe a question for further down the line. For now the entire industry will have eyes on how the Stark competes on the Arenacross Tour. Tonus is racing the Motocross of Nations (on a 450 Yamaha, not a Stark quite yet!), so he is certainly a decent rider that could be a contender on a conventional machine. Where he finishes and how the machine performs will be fascinating to watch, and it adds an extra little slice of history to the Bolesworth Castle event that is already a ground-breaking concept.