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.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common. The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale. With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question. Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster.

MotoGP Sepang Test – Day 3 Summary: Marquez’s Consistency, Lorenzo’s Speed, & Ducati’s Open Dilemma

02/06/2014 @ 1:37 pm, by David Emmett9 COMMENTS

MotoGP Sepang Test – Day 3 Summary: Marquezs Consistency, Lorenzos Speed, & Ducatis Open Dilemma marc marquez sepang test hrc 635x421

On Thursday, the riders opted almost unanimously to go out first thing in the morning. It was a wise choice, conditions proving ideal to see the fastest ever lap around the circuit set, beating Casey Stoner’s time from 2011.

The name of the rider that took Stoner’s record from him? Marc Marquez, the man brought in by Honda to replace the departing Australian.

Marquez’s time was impressive, but he was not the only man to get under the two minute mark. Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, and the continually surprising Aleix Espargaro also cracked the barrier, though none were quite capable of getting under Stoner’s old record.

The first 30 minutes of testing had produced a scintillating start to the day, whetting the appetite of all in the paddock for more.

While Marquez’s time is without doubt a fantastic lap, perhaps the most impressive time was set by Jorge Lorenzo. His fastest time, and the fastest time of the test up until that point, was set on his flying lap of the day.

It was, if you like, a simulation of the start of the race: firing off the line from pit lane exit, getting up to speed immediately, and then going on to set a lap record.

Normal fare for Lorenzo, whose flying starts have become something of a trademark. What made it truly incredible was the fact that this was done on new tires, on his very first laps of the day.

On race day, Lorenzo has the morning warm up to get up to speed, but not today. Fast straight out of the starting blocks, then following it up with another 1’59.9. If you ever needed proof of Lorenzo’s metronomic ability, this was surely it.

While Lorenzo excels at starts, they were Marc Marquez’s weakest point last season. Marquez spent a lot of time practicing his starts, firing out of pit lane at every opportunity. His other weak point was consistency, but that is something he appears to have conquered. Towards the end of the day, the Repsol Honda rider started a race simulation.

He ran for 19 laps – one lap shy of full race distance – 16 of which were low two-minute laps, and one of which was a 1’59. To put that into perspective, he was on average over a second of a lap quicker than last year’s race winner Dani Pedrosa, who took victory last October in convincing fashion.

It isn’t just compared to last year that Marquez was fast. His average lap time during the run was 2’00.531, seven tenths faster than the man with the second-fastest race simulation, Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda.

Marquez was on average eight tenths quicker than Valentino Rossi’s long run, and a second quicker than Andrea Dovizioso and Aleix Espargaro, the two men who were the surprise of the last day of testing.

Was Jorge Lorenzo capable of matching Marquez’ pace? We will not know after this test. Lorenzo went out to start his race simulation, but abandoned it after just five laps. A vibration in the tire and deteriorating lap times forced him to give up.

His pace in the first three laps had been around 2’00.8, the only man within shouting distance of Marquez. He was disappointed not to have run a race simulation, but felt confident of being close to Marquez when it counted.

It had been a tough day all round for Lorenzo, the Spaniard encountering a series of problems all day. Lorenzo’s team boss Wilco Zeelenberg joked that it had been a very good test, as they had found a bunch of problems they wouldn’t have to deal with at the next test in three weeks time.

For Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi, things had gone much better. He had worked well with his new crew chief Silvano Galbusera, and the atmosphere in the team was good. He told reporters he had worked on changing his riding style on the winter, and that it had paid off.

The idea was not to stress the edge of the tires, he said, and having a year of experience back on the Yamaha, he was no longer at the limit and able to concentrate on adapting his style.

That had gone well in terms of the time attack, but will it be just as successful in the race? Comparing his race simulation to Marc Marquez, he is eight tenths of a second slower. He did his race run in the heat of the day, though, not in the cooler late afternoon. Whether the temperature difference is worth eight tenths of a second is hard to say.

A surprising name at the front was that of Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducati. Both Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow agreed that the changes made to the bike had made a much bigger difference than they at first anticipated. Crutchlow said it was easier to push the bike into the corners without risking the front end folding.

In his stints on the GP13, Crutchlow had crashed the bike twice. Despite going faster on the GP14, he had not had a single crash. Dovizioso was quick to add that the bike still has understeer and is too aggressive on corner exit, but the series of mystery front-end crashes which plagued all Ducati riders since 2009 appears to be at an end.

Dovizioso’s fast lap in the morning had been noteworthy in itself. His lap of 2’00.370 is the fastest a Ducati has ever been around the Sepang circuit, and he had set the lap on his own, he told reporters.

More significant is his race run, though, his pace comparable just a couple of tenths of that of Rossi. Last year, the Ducatis were three quarters of a second off the pace of the Yamahas, so cutting it to just a couple of tenths is a sign of real progress.

The star of the show – and perhaps an influence on the future direction of Ducati in MotoGP – was Aleix Espargaro. The NGM Forward rider was consistently fast, both in outright terms and in his race pace, though he did not manage to do a full run. Espargaro had expected to run into problems in the last seven laps or so of a race, but his race run had lasted only ten laps.

The elder Espargaro brother feared that the softer rear Bridgestone would start to have problems towards the end of the race, though several mechanics disagreed. We will have to wait until the second Sepang test to see, where Aleix will take another shot at a race simulation.

So where is the Open class Yamaha FTR making up for the loss of the custom software which the Factory Option entries can run? The softer rear tire helps, and is probably worth three or four tenths of a second. Having more fuel also helps, as the bike can be run richer to give a better throttle response at partial openings.

But clearly, a lot of the difference is in Aleix Espargaro himself. When asked whether the performance of the Open class Yamaha had changed their judgment about the category, Honda team boss Livio Suppo, Ducati Corse chief Gigi Dall’Igna and Suzuki team manager Davide Brivio all pointed to the rider. A lot of the performance comes from the talent of Aleix Espargaro himself, they agreed.

In a press briefing with Shuhei Nakamoto, Livio Suppo was quick to leap to the defense of Honda’s RCV1000R Open class racer by pointing to the position of the second Yamaha FTR.

Only Espargaro’s bike was quicker than their machine, he emphasized, with Colin Edwards ending the day behind Nicky Hayden on the Aspar RCV1000R. This test has dramatically raised the stock of Aleix Espargaro. With contracts all up for negotiation this summer, the young Spaniard’s telephone is likely to be very busy indeed.

Espargaro certainly got everyone talking about the Open class machines. Their potential is clearly much higher than expected, helped no doubt by more fuel, and especially by the soft rear tire.

This is an advantage they will keep for the rest of the season, as Bridgestone confirmed directly after the test that they would continue to supply a softer option for the Open entries.

The question is, of course, will the success of Aleix influence the decisions of other factories. Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall’Igna would not be drawn, saying that he needed time to go through the results of the test and analyze the data before making a decision.

Though he acknowledged that the rules made it hard to make the progress needed as a Factory Option entry, he insisted no decision had been made.

The problem, he said, was that the freeze on engine development for the Factory Option bikes meant that even minor changes such as relocating engine mounting points to modify frame flex were not possible.

Without first looking at the data of the tests and the first three races, he believed he would not have sufficient data to understand what he needs to change on the Desmosedici.

The trouble is, there is a deadline of 28th February by which time the decision must be communicated to IRTA. Dall’Igna did say that he may consider switching just one of the factory riders to the Open category, rather than both.

He faced questioning over the core problem of the Desmosedici. Here, too, he said he needed more time to study the data. He denied the issue was the engine, saying that it was far more complex. ‘It is not one problem, it is maybe twenty, thirty problems,’ Dall’Igna said. Fixing them would take time, and careful analysis.

He had already got to work on the organization, he said. Sweeping changes had been made, the most significant involving improving the communication between the race team and the engineers in the factory.

He would like to put a system of rotating engineers in and out of the race team in place, he said, having them spend one weekend at the race track, then a week at the factory. More changes would be coming in that respect, as he got to know the people involved.

Communication, the Italian emphasized, was absolutely key, and the first step in improving the bike. No staff had been fired, and only one new engineer fired, Dall’Igna confident that the staff already in Ducati Corse were up to the task of tackling the problems, once the organization problems had been dealt with.

Will Ducati go Open? From an outside perspective, it seems like a no-brainer, but there may be other factors at play which neutral observers are not aware of. If Dall’Igna gave any hint at all, it was when he inisted that ‘we need to develop the bike, this is what will influence the decision.’ A decision will be made ahead of the second Sepang test at the end of February. But not before then.

Suzuki, on the other hand, have no current intention to enter the Open class. For the moment, they are testing with the Magneti Marelli hardware, and their own software.

The problem was, team boss Davide Brivio explained, that the job of porting the software to the new system was only about half done, with the complete package expected to be complete by the start of the second test.

That left test riders Randy De Puniet and Nobu Aoki struggling with poor engine response, making it difficult to test properly. It had been a calculated risk, the Suzuki boss said, but one worth taking nonetheless.

Clearly, the Open class is a big deal, and there will be more to come at Sepang 2. The situation is evolving fast, and news is likely to keep emerging all the way to the beginning of the season. To help explain the precise differences between the two classes, we will be publishing an analysis of the new rules package in the next few days. Keep your eyes peeled.

Lap Times from Day Three of MotoGP Testing at Sepang:

Pos.RiderBikeTimeDiff.Diff. Prev.
1Marc MarquezHonda RC213V1:59.533 - -
2Valentino RossiYamaha M11:59.7270.1940.194
3Jorge LorenzoYamaha M11:59.8660.3330.139
4Aleix EspargaroYamaha FTR Open1:59.9980.4650.132
5Stefan BradlHonda RC213V2:00.1120.5790.114
6Dani PedrosaHonda RC213V2:00.2230.6900.111
7Andrea DoviziosoDucati GP142:00.3700.8370.147
8Pol EspargaroYamaha M12:00.6551.1220.285
9Andrea IannoneDucati GP142:00.7251.1920.070
10Alvaro BautistaHonda RC213V2:00.7881.2550.063
11Bradley SmithYamaha M12:00.8961.3630.108
12Cal CrutchlowDucati GP142:01.0571.5240.161
13Nicky HaydenHonda RCV1000R Open2:01.5141.9810.457
14Colin EdwardsYamaha FTR Open2:01.7312.1980.217
15Michele PirroDucati GP14 Test2:01.7822.2490.051
16Hiroshi AoyamaHonda RCV1000R Open2:02.3832.8500.601
17Randy De PunietSuzuki Test2:02.4862.9530.103
18Yonny HernandezDucati GP13 Open2:02.5563.0230.070
19Kosuke AkiyoshiHonda RC213V Test2:02.6193.0860.063
20Katsuyuki NakasugaYamaha M1 Test2:02.7883.2550.169
21Scott ReddingHonda RCV1000R Open2:02.8333.3000.045
22Michael LavertyPBM Aprilia2:03.1873.6540.354
23Hector BarberaAvintia Kawasaki2:03.2043.6710.017
24Broc ParkesPBM Aprilia2:03.4023.8690.198
25Mike Di MeglioAvintia Kawasaki2:04.5164.9831.114
26Nobuatsu AokiSuzuki Test2:05.6866.1531.170
27Karel AbrahamHonda RCV1000R Open2:05.9746.4410.288

Photo: HRC

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

Comment:

  1. TexusTim says:

    well all this bodes very well for a great season, I hope Honda gives the “open ” bike a bit more power..i think Abraham has a lot of pain in his shoulder and that makes riding to the limit very difficult. we’ll see at the next test who can improve…bring on the season,2014 should be a good one !

  2. L2C says:

    I guess Pedrosa ran off the track at one point during a flying lap. Don’t know for sure, the feed didn’t exactly say, but perhaps that supports his statement of having brake issues this morning. At any rate, he continued to improve his times over the previous two days, so that’s good. Returning to Sepang in a few weeks is also good. More opportunities to slay that 1:59 marker and improve his race pace is something he’s sure to take advantage of.

    It’s going to be an intense six months for my man. Well, it is never not so, but considering the fact that his seat is on the line, plus the high level of the competition, plus the increased interest some are generating, he has his work cut out for him. Dani has always responded well to these pressures, but he has to get back to 2012 form or better. Better would be best.

    Here’s wishing Dani Pedrosa good fortune, good health, and good luck. And just the right amount of speed to win the whole damn thing.

  3. Guido Fawkes says:

    Specific to Yamaha and Valentino Rossi:

    1. Absolutely thrilled to see that Valentino has good pace and he’s looking a lot better on the bike. It really does look like he used the off season to really adapt his style to the bike.

    2. I see the “Yamaha FTR Open” bike as a very shrewd move by Yamaha and one that has totally blindsided Honda. Aleix Espargaro looks very fast on that bike and I truly believe that we’ll see him podium on that machine. I think the idea that hasn’t been discussed since testing has started is Aleix’s ability to develop a bike. Along with Colin Edward’s presence on that team there will be great strides made over the season.
    The reason this is very shrewd is because the writing is on the wall and I see the future of MotoGP with everyone on the “Open” model as we see today.
    By Yamaha essentially providing their 2013 bike as an “Open” bike, Yamaha have a direct model to measure against their current “Factory” entry. Honda has shot themselves in the foot by putting out the RCV1000R that isn’t in direct alignment to their RC213V. Depending on what the contractual details are between FTR and Yamaha, there may be a flow of development information going back to Yamaha which will help ease their move to the DORNA Software/ECU combo.

    I’ve said it before here: http://www.asphaltandrubber.com/motogp/rating-riders-motogp-2013-valentino-rossi/#comments

    It would be very interesting to see what Valentino can do with 24l of fuel, softer tires, and more engines. If Aleix’s performance is any clue, I think Valentino can still be very fast.

  4. vman says:

    Um.. Valentino IS still very fast. 19 years into it and still at the top of the time sheets.

  5. BBQdog says:

    How long will it take for Aleix Espargaro to get a factory Yamaha M1 ??
    I think he is the greatest talent at the moment in MotoGP.
    Better then Marquez ?? Time will tell.

  6. VK says:

    Day 3: According to Valentino, Marc simulation ride was done on faster (lower temperature) times where else Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo simulation rides were done later time (afternoon) where track temperature were extremely high plus its closer to the actual Sepang race time.

  7. BrianZ says:

    Aleix Espargaro will be in Dani Pedrosa’s seat next year is my current prediction….

  8. Norm G. says:

    re: “Honda has shot themselves in the foot”

    Ez-Dorn in the foot, Ez-Dorn. HRC boffins are trained snipers and they hit their target…

    circular error probable ZERO.

  9. Westward says:

    It’s my impression that the Ducati runs better on the open class soft rear. Couple that with the added fuel allowance and the improved cornering of their new bike, they could be a formidable opponent this season.

    Not to mention the loosened restrictions on engine development during the season, should give them more opportunity to be competitive this year and a bonifide championship contender by next year…