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Indian Hits 2020 Baikal Mile Ice Racing UPDATED

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In February, Indian unveiled Appaloosa 2.0 at the 2020 Baikal Mile Ice Race in deepest, coldest Siberia. The reason? Testing the revamped racer in some of the harshest conditions on the planet. There may have also been a crazy urge to go through what Rocky Balboa did training to beat Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, but we didn’t ask.

indian baikal ice race
…and cue Eye of the Tiger.

The 2020 Baikal Mile looks like some serious ice racing bidnezz. That’s probably why Indian Motorcycle and Workhorse Speed Shop are taking the Appaloosa race bike to said 2020 Baikal Mile. It’s an extreme test of rider and machine on the ice surface of Lake Baikal, Siberia.

With the go-ahead and continued support from top-level partners Akrapovič, Beringer Brakes, Dunlop Europe, Evok3 Performance, Motorex, Öhlins and tuning advice from Flybike, Appaloosa was modified for the extreme Siberian conditions on a tight schedule as it needed to be shipped by the beginning of February to make the long journey to Lake Baikal.

The Baikal Mile first took place in March last year and is now set to become an annual fixture on the motorsport calendar.

2020 baikal mile
Run on the ice off the eastern shore of Lake Baikal, the festival is one of the most unique international motorsport and racing culture events due to the extreme conditions of Siberia.

With specially prepared 1/8-mile and 1-mile ice tracks, teams challenged themselves to set speed records on a variety of specially prepared vehicles alongside stunt riding, drifting, drag racing, flat track and freestyle motocross.

2020 baikal mile
Where are the dissidents? I was told there would be dissidents.

Brice Hennebert, creator of Appaloosa, looked forward to the challenge: “They didn’t speak any English, we didn’t speak any Russian, but as with all car and motorcycle enthusiasts, it was a really friendly atmosphere. Through hand gestures and pointing, we were able to communicate, help each other out and lend each other tools. That’s what I love about events like this, we’re all here for the same reason and we all want to share the fun and make sure everyone has a good time.”
Technical inspections completed, Appaloosa and Sébastien Lorentz were given the all-clear to try their first test run on the 1/8-mile course, a final qualification step for the organisers to be sure the rider is in control and safe, before being allowed to run at speed on the Baikal ice.

baikal mile 2020
The Scout Bobber, originally transformed by Brice Hennebert for the 2019 Sultans of Sprint series, has been modified for the challenges of racing on ice and the extreme Siberian conditions with continued support from top-level partners Akrapovič, Beringer Brakes, Dunlop Europe, Evok3 Performance, Motorex, Öhlins and tuning advice from Flybike.

To grab the ice and propel Appaloosa down the strip, the SportSmart Mk3 tyres supplied by Dunlop Europe, have been hand-fitted with hundreds of studs, a task which took Brice’s mechanic, Dorsan, four days of work. To control the cooling of the engine from the extreme temperatures, the “mouth” of the fairing has been closed off with a new carbon fibre nose cap and smaller cooling intakes have been added to the side fairings.

Upgrading the NOS system was a priority for better reliability and power with the original system replaced with a Nitrous Express setup. Öhlins Racing has added a steering damper to the full suspension suite supplied in 2019 to keep Appaloosa stable at the higher speeds targeted. Finally, to protect the pilot and to keep a clear view ahead, areas around the wheels have been closed off inside the fairing to control the ice thrown up by the studded tyres.

With such a departure from its original purpose of tarmac sprints, it was fitting to give Appaloosa v2.0 a full makeover in the form of a new paint scheme designed by Benny Maxwell from Axesent, Japan (IG: @axesent) and expertly applied by Matthias from Moto Peinture (IG: @motopeinture).

2020 baikal mile
“The first run was good, I was just looking to test the traction of the studded tire that Dorsan had built, to see how stable the bike was, and of course, to make sure I could stop,” said Sébastien Lorentz. “Appaloosa pulled really well, and the front tire was not being pulled by the uneven surface. With good control, traction and stability, it has given me the confidence to go harder in the next run.”
indian scout bobber appaloosa
With another quicker run on the 1/8-mile, Brice and Seb agreed it was time to test on the one-mile course. Although a standard race distance for speed runs, there is a specific reason for this distance at the Baikal Mile festival; Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world with a maximum depth of one mile.

The first run on the full mile revealed surprises that the team were not expecting, particularly that the ice was much bumpier than the short 1/8 mile. The front and rear suspension compressed enough to bring the tire studs into contact with the fins of the real tail unit and a front fairing cross member, requiring some modification to the bodywork to allow for clearance. Limiting the top speed of the bike was an unknown electrical issue at higher speeds in the top gears.

“We knew we’d be facing issues we couldn’t really predict as we have no experience of racing on ice,” commented Brice. “I’ve spoken to teams here who have run perfectly at Bonneville and then the first time they came to Baikal, their machines just wouldn’t work properly due to the extreme conditions. With just that one run, we have learned so much about ice speed racing. With that experience and the helpful advice and suggestions from the teams around us, we’ll make some changes before tackling the mile again. On the electrical issue, I’ll initially remove the quick-shifter and Power Commander, hopefully that will resolve it. We’ll increase the rear tyre pressure from 2kPa to 3kPa, and Dorsan is also going to prepare a new rear tire with fewer studs for less weight.”
indian scout bobber
A second run on the ice mile saw improvements from the changes in tire pressure and the new stud pattern, but the electrical issue persisted.

On the final day of racing, teams woke up to the best conditions of the week with blue sky and bright sunshine. Heading to the start line for their first run of the day, Brice and Seb had decided that this would be the main pull and they would use the NOS system for the first time in the hope that the changes that Brice had made in the morning had resolved the electrical issue.

A clean start saw Appaloosa accelerate cleanly down the mile before the electrical issue limited their top speed. The run saw their best result yet with a top recorded speed of 180kmh, just short of the 200kmh target that Seb and Brice had set for themselves. With one final run to enjoy the experience of having come so far to do something so extreme, the team reflected on their experience.

Brice said, “Racing on ice is hard, this is the most incredible thing I’ve tried to do. I’ve learnt so much and had a hell of a lot of fun doing it. We’re losing something like 30% of our speed to the conditions and although we’ve had some issues, I am so glad we came here to test Appaloosa. My mind is racing with the possibilities and changes I’d like to make. Thank you to the organisers of the Baikal Mile and everyone here who has made us feel so welcome and part of their ice racing family. Coming here was a huge adventure for all of us and it was all about challenging ourselves, making new friends and having fun at the same time.”

More information on the 2020 Baikal Mile Ice Speed Festival can be found at baikalmile.comInstagramFacebook

 

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