The problem with electric bikes...Mon, 11 Jun 2012
This weekend sees the running of the most famous car race of them all, the Le Mans 24hrs, and to be a driver of one of the front-running cars has got to be fairly high on the list of jobs that will make ladies swoon.
Speed, danger, noise, fame, physical fitness and lots and lots of money, the key elements of any top-line race series, tend to ensure that its star competitors manage to appear cool. But the latest press picture from Yamaha – publicising the firm's link with (Yamaha shareholder) Toyota's Le Mans effort – manages to strip away every last shred of of swagger from the team's drivers by plonking them on Yamaha EC-03 electric scooters. In open-face helmets.
Ex-F1 men Alex Wurz (l) and Kazuki Nakajima (r), along with former GP2 driver Nicolas Lapierre (struggling to force a smile, centre), all manage to look self-conscious, over-sized and slightly nerdy on their new official team transport. No fewer than 16 of the electric Yamahas have been donated to Toyota to act as paddock wheels for this year's World Endurance Championship. The tie in works well, since Toyota is also pushing the eco-friendly aspects of its hybrid-powered Le Mans racer this year (expected to be runners up to the almost-inevitable winners, Audi, who's drivers should logically do better in terms of paddock transport too given that the firm now owns Ducati...). But after years of work to become a super-cool, top-level racing driver, pictures like this must make the Toyota men wince.
See also: Tommy Hayden Signs with YES Graves Yamaha for Remainder of 2012 AMA Daytona Sportbike Season, Isle of Man TT 2012: Supersport TT 2 Results, 2013 Yamaha XT250 Receives Fuel Injection.