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.

Photos of the Mugen Shinden Ni sans Fairings

Given the competitive nature of the electric racing realm, its rare to see the big high-power bikes without their fairings, as teams are reluctant to reveal their secret sauce. Debuting the Mugen Shinden San this past weekend in Tokyo though, Team Mugen did just that, giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of the team’s 2013 race bike, the Mugen Shinden Ni. You don’t have to be an electron-head to get excited by these photos, as any race bike with a carbon fiber frame and swingarm is pretty drool-worthy, though the Shinden Ni’s carbon fiber battery enclosure does hide a great deal of the electric superbike’s geek factor. While the sheer size of the battery bike is impressive, it was expected when the Shinden was first announced.

Mugen Shinden San (神電 参) Electric Superbike Revealed

Mugen’s third purpose-built electric superbike for the Isle of Man TT, the Mugen Shinden San, has been revealed in Japan. Campaigning two machines for this year’s TT Zero race, Mugen has John McGuiness and Bruce Anstey at the helm of its “Shinden San” bikes, as the duo looks for a one-two finish in this year’s race. With MotoCzysz not racing at the Isle of Man this year, Mugen is a hot favorite to take the top podium spots, as well as crack the 110 mph barrier for electrics on the historic Snaefell Mountain Course (Mugen is targeting a 115 mph lap). An evolution on the company’s previous designs, the Shinden San fits 134hp — 10hp more than last year, thanks to a new smaller three-phase brushless motor provided by Mission Motors — into its 529lbs bulk.

Trackside Tuesday: The Winning Personality of Jack Miller

Chatting with a couple of NASCAR fans recently, I was reminded that any competition is boring if you don’t care who wins. But if you do care, then even cars driving around in circles can be very compelling entertainment. Those NASCAR fans really cared about how their favorite drivers finished, and not only how they finished in the latest race, but what and how those drivers were doing off the track as well. Those fans had been captured by the personalities of those drivers. One of the things NASCAR does well is sell personalities. All major sports-related businesses do this to some extent, but some organizations do it better than others.

Living the Dream – A Photographer’s Story: Qatar

Imagine if just for once you didn’t have to stick to your usual nine-to-five job. Instead you were able to do the one job you’ve always wanted to do, but any number of things (it’s usually money) have stood in the way. This is exactly the situation I found myself in six months ago when the company I had worked at, for the last 14 years, decided to close, making everyone redundant. This decision did not come as a surprise; in fact, I had been hanging around for the last few years hoping that it would happen, as I had a plan. Fast-forward six months and I have just finished photographing the opening round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar. The plan is starting to unfold.

Rating the Riders of MotoGP: Valentino Rossi – 8/10

01/07/2014 @ 3:46 pm, by David Emmett9 COMMENTS

Rating the Riders of MotoGP: Valentino Rossi – 8/10 Thursday Qatar GP MotoGP Scott Jones 04 635x423

In the fourth part of our series looking back at 2013, we take a look at Valentino Rossi’s season. To catch up with previous instalments, you can read part 1 on Marc Marquezpart 2 on Jorge Lorenzo, and part 3 on Dani Pedrosa.

Valentino Rossi left Ducati at the end of 2012 with a palpable sense of relief. At last he would be back on a bike with a front-end he could trust, and could get back to being competitive. The goal was to test himself, to see if he could still run at the front with the Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, he repeatedly told reporters in the preseason.

Testing looked promising. Rossi was a little way behind the Hondas, but so was his teammate Jorge Lorenzo, and that was the man he had to measure himself against. At the first race, Rossi was straight onto the podium, dishing out a lesson in racecraft to Marc Marquez along the way. It looked like he was finally back in business.

Qatar turned out to be something of a false dawn. Rossi struggled in Austin, and could only manage a distant fourth at Jerez. That was an omen of things to come, Rossi racking up a grand total of 8 fourth places during the season, only getting on to the podium when one or other of the top three were injured or otherwise struggling.

Despite the difficulty, the wily veteran still managed to bag himself a win at Assen, his first in nearly three years. It was a moment of release for the Italian, but even during the press conference, he conceded that his win was in no small part due to his teammate’s injured collarbone. Rossi cemented his place in the MotoGP hierarchy: the fourth best rider in the world.

Was the problem age, talent, or equipment? That question is still unanswered. Age must surely play a part, but Rossi’s biggest problem was an inability to get the bike to brake as he wanted. The new, less stiff front Bridgestone introduced during 2012 was causing Rossi problems, the bike lacking stability as he tried to slam on the brakes as late as possible.

It was, he admitted, in part his own fault: when Bridgestone had brought the front tire in 2012, he had seen its weakness then. But given the miserable time he was having getting the Ducati to turn, a softer front tire might actually help, but slowing down the others. “We were already in the sh*t,” Rossi commented, “so it made no difference.”

In 2013, he wished he had held out against the softer front. While Jorge Lorenzo could use his strong point, braking earlier, less abruptly, and carrying more corner speed, Rossi and his crew turned his bike upside down in the pursuit of better braking.

At a test in June at Aragon, the Italian thought he had found something, but though it was an improvement, the problem remained. It would never go away entirely, and Rossi was never able to change his style enough to compensate.

At the end of the year, Rossi took a radical step, sacking his crew chief Jeremy Burgess, the man who has guided him throughout his entire career in the premier class.

That move was widely seen as an act of desperation, thrashing about trying anything in the hope of improvement. Sacrificing Burgess left only one variable left to blame. By the end of 2014, we will know whether the problems lay with Burgess or Rossi.

High Point:

Rating the Riders of MotoGP: Valentino Rossi – 8/10 Sunday Phillip Island Australian GP MotoGP 2013 Scott Jones 16 635x423

It had been a long, long time, and the relief was palpable. Rossi celebrated victory at Assen with fervor, it having been over two-and-a-half years since his last win. Rossi’s 80th premier class win (and his 106th in all classes) was huge.

True, it had been taken while his teammate was injured, and Dani Pedrosa had struggled with tires, but a win is a win, and Rossi celebrated it as such.

It also came after a successful test at Aragon, giving his confidence a much needed boost. The euphoria did not last long, but Rossi proved that he still had it in him, at least when the stars aligned.

Low Point:

Rating the Riders of MotoGP: Valentino Rossi – 8/10 Sunday Silverstone British GP MotoGP Scott Jones 12 635x423

Rossi’s 2013 MotoGP campaign reached its nadir at Mugello. Finally back at the track he loves so dearly on a bike that at least allows him to ride, the Italian had high hopes of success.

A poor qualifying session – something Rossi struggled with all year, only really getting his head around the new, 15-minute session towards the end of the season – left him down on the third row of the grid.

His race lasted just three corners, before Rossi ended in the gravel alongside Alvaro Bautista. The two men had taken wildly different lines out of Luco, and those lines intersected on the entrance to Poggio Secco.

Blame was hard to apportion, though Rossi made no secret of his belief the fault lay with Bautista. Rossi now has his hopes pinned on Mugello in 2014, perhaps more of his hopes than he cares to admit.

Photos: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

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

Comment:

  1. phil says:

    He’s still no push over by a VERY long way, hasn’t lost his nerve so lets see for 2014. Personally I think he needs to change his riding style. what works for Jorge needs to work for him , and I don’t mean the crew chief !

  2. smiler says:

    What is amazing and likely annoying to all those who dislike Rossi is firsly how much he is still a draw and at the centre of MotoGP. Unlike Merguez, he is personable whilst being ruthless, humourous whilst being completely cold, charismatic whilst being totally focused.
    The fact that he is still so eager to win after nine titles and the risks he has taken is amazing.
    For those who want to see the back of him. He has purchased himself into MotoGP as a manager.

    The changes to tires, his M1 and the rehabilitation from Ducati seem to have had much more imapct than others arriving on the MotoGP secene.
    To be honest I hope he goes out with a blaze of glory in 2014 then calls it a day. Otherwise it will be another very dull season. The loss of Marco Simoncelli was much more than the death of a good rider. Imagine him on a full factory Honda or Yamahahaha. Merguez I suspect would have no response and it would keep Dorna’s Spanish domination ideas in check.

  3. L2C says:

    The way Burgess was let go was the only way Burgess could have been let go. A ton of journalists are pissed off about the way it happened, but if it could have happened in any other way it would have. I don’t think that Burgess was lying when he said that he was okay with the way things went down. And based on comments that Burgess made in the press following his departure, Rossi was right to let him go because it’s now crystal clear that Burgess doesn’t have as much faith in Rossi’s ability as he used to.

    No relationship can withstand a lack of faith.

  4. JW says:

    No matter what happens in 14, it has been a true pleasure to have had VR a part of this sport.

  5. SBPilot says:

    @JW – That is the best comment regarding VR I’ve read in a long time. With so much talk about VR and his capabilities and the negativity of him releasing JB, we need to just sit back and look at VR as a whole. We need to say, regardless of whatever happens in ’14, whether he stops mid season or magically finds the speed to run at the front, he is one hell of a class act. 15 years at the front is no easy thing.

    You watch any race from the 500GP era, on that Honda dicing it out, and you really realize, wow, he’s been so good for so long. It’s amazing.

  6. dc4go says:

    Vale is still the cooliest racer out there, but his best days are long gone. He lost the corner speed he had, he would be better off riding a Honda or in WSBK

  7. Jw says:

    Sadly the death of his dear friend Marco , surely has been an obstacle, but it’s OK, I think we can all appreciate this human side.

  8. Guido Fawkes says:

    1. I still regard Valentino as one of the best and certainly capable of winning races and the championship.

    2. People who say he should step down due to all the 4th place finishes are being ridiculous. There are 4 premier bikes on the grid and they are the 2 Hondas and the 2 Yamahas. As long as he’s finishing in the range of 1-4 he deserves his factory seat. Ideally, he should be in front of or just behind his teammate.

    I really do hope that he continues beyond 2014 because he is still one of the best. What would be interesting to me after hearing about Ducati testing “Open Class” bikes is this scenario:

    Valentino and Yamaha running a with an “Open Class” bike. If Yamaha can give him everything identical to the “Factory Class” machine minus the Software, I think he’d be very competitive. I’m sure the extra motors, softer tires, and 24l of fuel would help Valentino greatly.
    If that formula could get him another championship he’d have won 125, 250, 500, Factory MotoGP 800 & 990, Suzuka 8hr, and then MotoGP with an ‘Open Class’.

  9. Jimbo says:

    I would agree with the comments above. His best days are gone. However he is still the 4th best rider on the grid and so deserves the ride he has.