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MotoE teams and organisers are in a race against time to save the all-electric racing championship’s inaugural season after a charging station caused a fire that destroyed its entire roster of bikes.
Engineers were salvaging equipment after a blaze ripped through the newly-built E-paddock in the early hours of Thursday morning, following the first day of preseason testing at the Circuito de Jerez, roughly 90km south of Seville.
Nobody was injured, though it has been confirmed that all 18 bikes which had taken to the track the previous day were destroyed.
An investigation by local police was still being carried out on Friday evening, while initial evidence points to a short circuit as the main cause of the incident.
A statement from the MotoGP said: 'The source of the short circuit has yet to be identified but, once the fire broke out, it ignited the high-density battery which is part of the high-performance charger used at MotoE events.
'The motorbikes were not connected to the charging infrastructure at the time the fire began.'
Despite the massive setback, organisers are confident that the MotoE World Cup will still go ahead, albeit acknowledge that the championship’s opening Spanish Grand Prix on 5th May could be pushed back.
Speaking to MotoGP.com, MotoE’s executive director Nicolas Goubert said: “It was the first time we had the 18 bikes with the 18 riders here on the track and, with brilliant weather, the riders were very happy with the bikes [after recording] very impressive lap times on the first day of testing.
“At the end of the day, the teams and bikes came back to the paddock to do maintenance on the bikes … and we left a small team of four people in charge of charging all the bikes for the following testing days.
“Just at the end of the charging process, they noticed fumes coming out of the boxes and that a prototype charging station was actually catching fire.
“Unfortunately, they couldn’t extinguish it and the fire spread very rapidly throughout the entire tent, in which we had all the bikes and equipment … and we lost a lot of things.
“The positive thing is that nobody has been injured. We will definitely have the championship this year in 2019. It might not be on exactly the same days but we are dedicated to have a five-event championship. We will learn from any mistakes.”
The concept for the all-electric MotoE championship was announced last year as part of a new MotoGP category that supports shorter races of around 10 laps, including a total of 12 teams.
Avintia's rider Eric Granado recorded the fastest lap time on the opening day of testing in southern Spain.