Pikes Peak International Hill Climb: Team Led By MIT Engineers Grabs Second Spot In The Race's Electric Bike Division!


The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is without-a-doubt the most unconventional motorsport event in the whole world. The KOMMIT Electric Vehicle Team (EVT), spearheaded by professional rider Yoshihiro Kishimoto and members of the MIT Electric Vehicle Team grabbed the second spot in the electric motorcycle section of the PPIHC (Pikes Peak International Hill Climb) last month in Colorado; in a race up a breathtaking and slippery mountain road to the colossal (14,110-foot) summit.

Alternatively dubbed as the "Race to the Clouds," this marked the 100th anniversary of the 12.5-mile long car and motorcycle race that turns 156 times and climbs a jaw-dropping 4,725 feet.

The team concluded the course in 11 minutes 10.480 second closely behind the team that grabbed the number one spot, Victory Racing (Polaris Industries' professional racing team), which finished the course in 10 minutes 17.813 seconds.

MIT EVT called up a distinct set of partners from academia and industry to form KOMMIT EVT:

Motorcycle manufacturer, Zero Motorcycles offered the crucial hardware and engineering backing while race companies including Japan-based Mirai EV, Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) from Sweden, London's Brunel University and Komatti from the Isle of Man participated in the challenge, according to a post on MIT official website.

MIT graduate student and project's crew manager Mark Jeunnette noted that the team had a slew of components such as main contactor, battery charger and motor controller fail during testing. But their problem didn't end there. The team faced logistical challenges as well - such as shipping component, motorcycles and tools to and from Japan.

The PPIHC turned 100 this year, just five years younger than the Indianapolis 500. Aside from age, the two events have absolutely nothing in common, ARS Technica noted.

The aforementioned challenges transformed the race and works leading up to it, in an authentic marathon, Jeunnette said.

In addition, the team was also supported and encouraged by their competitors, indicating that everyone was there not just to win but also to give electric vehicles the much-needed push.

Team member Lennon Rodgers, who is a research scientist at MIT's International Design Center (IDC) enjoyed being a participant of a global team that intends to work towards a common goal.

Rodgers and Jeunnette, both MIT alumni, participated in the 2011 Isle of Man TT motorcycle race as MIT EVT members and their team grabbed the fourth spot. These projects help students learn risk management and designing.

Aside from starting their own companies, quite a few past members of the MIT EVT have gone on to work at Tesla, BMW, Porsche, Apple, and Google.

Following this impressive second place win, MIT EVT is already looking forward to the upcoming year.

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