Photos from 250+ Feet up COTA’s Petrolsaurus Rex

Standing 251 feet above Turns 16, 17, & 18, the COTA observation tower provides a bird’s eye view of just about every tun on the circuit, if you can stomach its subtle sway in the wind and clear-glass floor at the precipice. Officially called by COTA as the “Observation Tower” – it really needs a better name for casual conversation. We’ve heard COTA Cobra used a few times with some lovely alliteration, but the structure has always struck us as less snake-like, and more like a big dinosaur — we’re going to use the name “Petrolsaurus Rex” until I hear something better, or COTA sends me a cease and desist order. I climbed to the top of Petrolsaurus Rex (read: took the elevator) during the MotoGP Warm-Up session, and snapped a few photos in the process. Enjoy!

MV Agusta F3 800 Ago Now Officially Debuts

We already announced the bike last November, and brought you a bevy of hi-res images of the special edition machine. Although now that we think of it, MV Agusta never released anything on this Giacomo Agostini tribute motorcycle — better late than never, right? Back at the EICMA show launch, where the MV Agusta F3 800 Ago was first shown to the public (and Agostini himself), the Varese brand promised us two additional motorcycle launches in early 2014. MV Agsuta made good on half that promise with the Dragster 800 model, hopefully this Ago special edition isn’t the other half of that statement, and MV Agusta still has something waiting in the wings. That being said, the Tricolore & Gold paint scheme is gorgeous, and looks even better in person.

Isle of Man TT Gets TV Deal for Australia & USA

Want to watch the Isle of Man TT from the comfort of your non-British TV, but haven’t been able to in the past? A new TV from the Isle of Man’s Department of Economic Development will do just that. Inking a new TV contract with North One TV, the Isle of Man TT will be televised in the American, Australian, and of course British markets, making it easier than ever to watch the iconic road race. With a five-year contract with the Velocity Channel in the US, the American cable channel will show seven one-hour race shows. Each segment will air within 24hrs of each race, and be tailored for the American market.

Castiglioni Denies Fiat Buyout of MV Agusta Is in the Works

After reporting 22% growth in Q1 2014, Giovanni Castiglioni had some closing words about the rumors that Fiat could acquire MV Agusta — a popular rumor that has been swirling around in the press the last two months. Denying outright that MV Agusta had, or was in, talks with the Fiat-Chrysler group about an acquisition (some reports linked even MV Agusta to being bought by Fiat-owned Ferrari), Castiglioni said the Italian company solely was focused on building growth, and building motorcycles. “Moreover, I’d like to take this opportunity to deny rumours circulated by the media over the last few days concerning supposed negotiations vis-à-vis the sale of a share of MV Agusta to the Fiat-Chrysler Group,” said Giovanni Castiglioni, the President and CEO of MV Agusta.

A 2WD Hybrid-Electric Motorcycle for the US Military?

In the coming years, US special forces may be riding a tw0-wheel drive, hybrid-electric, multi-fuel motorcycle co-developed by BRD Motorcycles and Logos Technologies. Helping make this project possible is a Small Business Innovation Research grant from DARPA. The goal is to make a single-track vehicle for US expeditionary and special forces that will be nearly silent in operation, yet also capable of traveling long distances. Details on the proposed machine are light, of course, but it sounds like the 2WD dirt bike will be based off the BRD RedShift MX (shown above), and use an electric drivetrain, as well as a multi-fuel internal combustion engine to achieve its goals.

Colin Edwards Will Retire from Racing after 2014 Season

Announcing his decision during the pre-event press conference for the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, Colin Edwards told the assembled press that 2014 would be the Texan’s last season racing a motorcycle. Citing a lack of improvement on his performance in pre-season testing and at the Qatar GP, Edwards decision perhaps answers the lingering question in the paddock of when the American rider would hang-up his spurs after an illustrious career in AMA, WSBK and MotoGP. Talking about his inability to come to terms with the Forward Yamaha, which Aleix Espargaro was able to take to the front of the pack in Qatar, Edwards was at a loss when it came to understanding the Open Class machine and his lack of results.

MSF Updates Its Basic RiderCourse Curriculum

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Yamaha Trademarks “R1S” & “R1M” at USPTO – “YZF-R1M” Trademarked Abroad – But Why?

Are new Yamaha YZF-R1 models coming down the pipe? That’s the question being asked after trademark filings in the US and abroad tipped off Yamaha Motor’s intention to use “R1S”, “R1M”, and “YZF-R1M” for motorcycle, scooter, and three-wheeled purposes. The filings are being taken as hints towards a possible multiple trim levels of the Yamaha YZF-R1 superbike, with the “S” and “M” designations being different spec machines than the current base model. The “S” nomenclature is a popular one in the two and four-wheeled world, though “M” would certainly be a novel designation, outside of say…BMW.

Bell & COTA Create Texas-Themed Limited-Edition Helmet

Continuing its theme of making limited-edition helmets for premier-class US rounds, Bell Helmets has teamed up with the Circuit of the Americas and Chris Wood, of Airtrix, to create a Texas-themed Bell Star Carbon helmet, just in time for COTA’s MotoGP race next weekend. Available only until April 13th, the Bell/COTA helmet features a red, white, and blue flag motif on the front, with both the American and State of Texas flags visible, which then wrap around the rear to merge with a hardwood design, reminiscent of the floorboards in a Western saloon. The helmet is also crowned with a Longhorn cattle skull, which adds to the Texan motif. The specially designed helmet also features a horseshoe, the COTA logo, and the 2014 Red Bull MotoGP of The Americas logo.

Aprilia Mounting a Return to MotoGP in 2016

Towards the end of the 800cc era, MotoGP looked to be in dire condition. Grids were dwindling, factories were reducing their participation, and teams were in difficult financial straits indeed. By the end of 2011, there were just 17 full time entries, Suzuki was down to a single rider, and were about to pull out entirely for 2012. How different the situation looks today. In a recent interview with the official MotoGP.com website, Aprilia Corse’s new boss Romano Albesiano gave a brief outline of their plans. The Italian factory will continue to work with the IODA Racing team for 2014 to collect data on the electronics and tires, which they will use as input on an entirely new project being worked on for 2016.

Sepang MotoGP Test (2) Preview – Intrigue Abounds Despite a Missing Marquez

02/25/2014 @ 11:34 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

Sepang MotoGP Test (2) Preview – Intrigue Abounds Despite a Missing Marquez Sepang International Circuit SIC map 635x457

MotoGP returns to the track at Sepang in just a few hours, and the second test at the Malaysian circuit offers just as much intrigue as the first did. Interest at Sepang 2 centers on notable absentees, Ducati’s plans, and progress made so far. There is much to watch in Malaysia.

One thing we know for sure. Marc Marquez will not be the fastest man at the second Sepang test. The reigning world champion dominated the first test at the beginning of the month, but a training crash saw him fracture his right fibula.

Even in adversity, Marquez’s luck held, the injury being relatively quick to heal, the bone not being displaced. He will definitely be back in action at the first race of the year in Qatar, and he could possible attend the Bridgestone test at Phillip Island early next week, but he will be forced to miss Sepang 2.

With Marquez out, others will have a chance to shine, though the question of how any times set would hold up if the Repsol Honda man had been present will remain. Nobody had an answer to Marquez’s pace at the first test – especially when you compare his race pace on long runs – and his rivals will have to drop well under the two-minute mark to make an impression.

Marquez’s absence leaves the burden of testing in the Repsol Honda team to Dani Pedrosa. The Spaniard had a relatively anonymous first Sepang test, working quietly while never stamping his authority on the test.

Work will continue on seeking more corner speed for the Honda RC213V, retesting the new chassis tried at the start of the month, and giving the latest rear Bridgestone tire another workout.

Over at Yamaha, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi have their work cut out. Their main focus will once again be fuel consumption, the issue which remains Yamaha’s Achilles heel. The key, especially for Lorenzo, is getting smooth power delivery at the first touch of the throttle.

The exceptional lean angles which Lorenzo achieves mean that anything which can upset the bike has the potential to end in disaster. Lorenzo was fast at the first test, but he was struggling. He will be hoping Yamaha found some software solutions to help him out.

Rossi, too, struggles with fuel consumption, though in his case, the problem is more to do with his height and weight. Being taller means he sticks out more into the airflow, creating more drag and burning more fuel.

But more important for Rossi will be confirming the big step forward that his team, under the guidance of new crew chief Silvano Galbusera, found in braking stability. Rossi reported being a lot more confident after the changes made ahead of Sepang 1, and he needs just a little bit more to be able to run comfortably with the three Spaniards dominating MotoGP.

He, like the others, will also be putting in a few long runs to test the bike in race configuration, something only Marquez had a real shot at during the first test.

At Ducati, the question of their future will finally be answered. They have until midnight on 28th February to decide if they will officially switch to the Open category, though everyone – both inside and outside Ducati – is convinced that the decision has already been made, despite official denials.

The advantages – continuing engine development, virtually unlimited testing, more engines with which to make changes, differing engine specs inside the same team, a softer rear tire – are so large that it seems madness for them to remain as Factory Option entries. The freedom to develop their own software may be greatly cherished, software is the very least of their worries at the moment.

After the severely modified GP14 on display at the first test, the bike to be used at the second Sepang test will be largely unchanged from the first. New Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall’Igna is still collecting data, and will only make a decision on what needs to be changed after the first three races of the season.

Until then, Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow will be acting as test mules, riding what they have been given, and trying to explore the limits of the new bike and find its weaknesses and strengths.

The GP14 is definitely an improvement over last year’s bike. Andrea Dovizioso posted some impressive times, and more importantly, the pace he posted during his long runs was only a couple of tenths off the times of Valentino Rossi. A few more tweaks should bring him closer still.

The improvement came in a revised chassis, changing the weight distribution and improving front end feel. Though the bike is still troubled with understeer, the feeling on corner entry was significantly improved. The long years of Ducatis crashing for no reason – usually immediately after letting off the brakes – could finally be behind them.

While Dovizioso was soon up to speed, team mate Cal Crutchlow was taking it rather more gently. After being a constant podium threat during 2013, his first outings on the Ducati were something of a shock to the system.

His head is focused on the future, though, working towards providing data, putting his ambition to one side for the short term, in the hope of a long-term pay off.

Though Ducati going Open will be a big deal, their announcement (in whatever form it comes) will still not capture the attention which Aleix Espargaro has done on the Yamaha FTR.

At the first Sepang test, the Forward Racing rider captured the imagination of the fans, gave hope to the privateer teams, and annoyed HRC, all at the same time. Aleix was fast, ending the test as fourth fastest overall. His race pace was slower, but the raw speed of the Open Yamaha was impressive.

Paddock insiders were quick to point to the talent of the elder of the two Espargaro brothers. Rightly so; it was Aleix who was the youngest ever CEV champion, not brother Pol. But the performance of Aleix points to the viability of the new Open format, under the right conditions. More fuel and softer tires clearly compensate for the lack of complex software, just as Dorna hoped.

The question mark that remains to be answered is how the tires will cope. The one thing which the Forward rider had not got around to at the first Sepang test is running the tires beyond half race distance. That is the point they were deteriorating last year, what the teams want to know is if the electronics and tires have improved enough to prevent such a large drop off.

While all eyes will be on Aleix Espargaro in the Open class, others will be equally busy. Nicky Hayden complained bitterly of a lack of horsepower from the production Honda RCV1000R at the first test, saying he was being destroyed out of corners on acceleration.

Honda are unlikely to have a solution to Hayden’s woes at this test, and Hayden and the Drive M7 Aspar team will hope to find a few improvements on their own. Long term, the RCV1000R needs more power, though.

At Sepang 2, we may get a glance of HRC’s attitude. Are they willing to really help? Or are they just happy to be supplying bikes at a relatively cheap price?

While a lot of attention is on the Open bikes, there is much of interest in the satellite teams as well. Pol Espargaro had an outstanding outing at the second Sepang test, finishing ahead of his teammate Bradley Smith on two out of the three days.

Smith had a different testing program to Espargaro, but he was less than delighted to have finished behind his arch rival. The two men will face off once again at the second test, with Smith likely to be pushing harder this time around.

At Honda, Stefan Bradl will be looking to consolidate an excellent first test, ending in 5th, and second fastest Honda after Marquez. Bradl had a disappointing 2013, and knows he must impress HRC if he is to retain his seat at the end of this season.

Testing has gone extremely well so far, but Bradl will need to continue his form if he is to keep in Honda’s good graces.

At the Gresini team, Alvaro Bautista will continue work on the Showa suspension. The Japanese suspension firm has made good progress since last year, Bautista showing more speed and more consistency than in previous years.

Bautista knows that he must make way for his teammate Scott Redding at the end fo 2014, the Englishman having been promised Gresini’s satellite bike for next year. So Bautista finds himself auditioning for a ride next year. His hopes will be focused on Suzuki, the brand which he was forced to abandon when they left MotoGP at the end of 2011.

The other dark horse at the test could be Andrea Iannone. The Italian was remarkably quick on the Pramac Ducati, now fully recovered from the injury he sustained last year.

Much was expected of Iannone when he came to MotoGP, but his first year was very much a disappointment. How much was down to injury, and how much down to Iannone himself should become a little more evident at Sepang.

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. Westward says:

    Should Rossi top the test and manage a time well under 2 minutes, then he would be my favourite to regain the title at seasons end despite Marquez’s absence.

    Rossi’s progress is very encouraging and I still believe should it continue the title will come down to him or Marquez…

    Lorenzo will seem to be a threat but ultimately will be bested by the two…

    Pedrosa will fold as usual…

  2. Frank says:

    @Westward – I have to say, I am also encouraged by Rossi’s pace in the last test. He will have the same problems that Jorge is already complaining of – the new Bridgestone tires. They are more usable for the field at large but they are a harder compound, with less edge softness. Jorge can’t carry his corner speed and both Yamaha riders have had issues with the ridability of the M1 restricted to only 20 liters of fuel.

    I think Jorge will initially have more issues based solely on his riding style, but based on the end of last season, I’d say he is at the peak of his game. He is ‘racing’ better than he ever has and has to be a for sure title contender. Rossi vs. Marquez could shape up to be absolutely epic if Rossi can keep up this year. The only battle I might like to see more would be Stoner vs. Marquez. But even then… Rossi at the top of his game vs. MM at the top of his (which we haven’t even seen yet)… that’s enough to make me chuckle like a little girl.

    When I first heard about MM’s injury, I though immediately of Dani. I wish him the best of luck. No doubt he will have a lot of HRC support at the beginning of the season.

    Also – I have a bad feeling that once they throw the FTR chassis on Aleix’s bike, he looses time and falls back in the pack. I also worry about his consistency as they only have 1 bike totally worked out so far. He has mentioned his second bike doesn’t inspire much confidence. After what he did today though (Day 1 Sepang test 2)- you would be stone cold to not get excited for his future and the future of the open class/spec software field.

    We are weeks away from my life becoming completely one-dimensional again. It’s my wife’s favorite time of year… HA! She already loved WSBK in PI this last week.

  3. Kev71 says:

    I hope Rossi can compete with the 3 Spaniards and contend for podium’s instead of battling for 4th. I am on the fence on buying the MotoGP Package. Can anyone give memory info. Specifically, can it be used on more than 1 CPU, I have 2 homes that I live in, can I use the same account on both? Also, can Google Chromecast send the motogp race onto my tv? Thanks!

  4. Westward says:

    Kev71

    I believe its a simple login situation. You type in your login name and password, regardless of which computer and its location. But it only works on one computer at a time…

  5. Kev71 says:

    OK, Thanks!