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 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.

Friday Summary at Motegi: Of Fog, Earthquakes, & Trigger-Happy PR Teams

10/25/2013 @ 4:41 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

Friday Summary at Motegi: Of Fog, Earthquakes, & Trigger Happy PR Teams yamaha motogp pit box motegi japan 635x423

Even the most secularist and rationalist motorcycle racing fan must by now be thinking that there is some kind of supernatural force at work trying to prevent MotoGP from happening at Motegi.

It started in 2010, when the race scheduled for April had to be moved back to October because of the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland sent a massive cloud of ash into the skies over Europe which suspended all air flights just as the MotoGP teams were ready to fly to Japan.

In 2011, on the weekend of the Qatar MotoGP season opener, the 9.0 magnitude Tohoku earthquake struck off the east coast of Japan, sending a devastating tsunami towards Japan destroying the coastal regions, then throwing in a disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant for good measure.

So it came as no surprise that the first day of practice at Motegi ended up being scrapped due to the weather conditions. You could even say that to only have the first day of practice canceled was a lucky break, as earlier in the week it had looked like a typhoon could have blown through the area and forced the entire event to be called off. Instead, the typhoon track moved further east than expected, sparing Japan the worst of the wind and rain.

What the typhoon did bring, however, was fog, and that turned out to be a bigger problem than the rain was. With poor weather for a couple of days ahead of the MotoGP round, and then fog on Friday, the medical helicopter which is a requirement at every race was grounded, and unable to reach the circuit.

Without a medical helicopter, reaching the hospital designated by the circuit medical officer would have taken the better part of an hour by road. In the case of a rider sustaining a life-threatening injury, the medical team could not have gotten them from the circuit medical center to a hospital quickly enough, and that is an unacceptable risk.

The cancellation of Friday action forced Race Direction to put an emergency plan in place. Their problem was handling every possible combination of fog, rain, sun, and wind, and so they came up with a list of schedules aimed at each scenario. For full details of each, see the separate story on the possible schedules, but as I write this, conditions are looking favorable.

It looks like there could be an extended session of free practice on Saturday morning, and then qualifying and race day as normal. That would be a huge relief to Dorna and Race Direction, who have had to juggle schedules for two races in a row. Unlike Phillip Island, where the problems were both preventable and predictable, the situation at Motegi is beyond the control of those involved.

To add insult to injury, there was also an earthquake off the coast of Japan in the middle of the night, which shook the section of the paddock staying in Mito, close to the coast, awake. Though the earthquake was fairly strong – magnitude 7.1, according to the US Geological Survey – it was also well out to sea, some 300 km from the Japanese coast and 400 km or more from Motegi.

No damage was caused, though smaller aftershocks continue, and the earthquake is no threat to the race. Japan’s location at the edge of the Ring of Fire, the edge of the tectonic plates which surround the Pacific Ocean, means that earthquakes are common, with 12 quakes having occurred in the area in the last week alone.

The earthquake may have sent some of the Europeans in the paddock scurrying for their hotel lobby, the Japanese and Californians (of which there are a few) barely batted an eyelid.

Was canceling practice the right thing to do? Yes, was the consensus among the riders who spoke to the press. This was a simple question of rider safety, and nobody doubted that this was the best course of action.

Losing a day of practice was beneficial for those carrying injury, including Stefan Bradl and Scott Redding, as well as making the engine situation less pressing for Nicky Hayden and Jorge Lorenzo. Though it may complicate practice and qualifying, it was the best thing all round.

Who will benefit from this? Jorge Lorenzo seems to think he will. Lorenzo told reporters that he has experience at the track and so should be able to find a set up faster than Marc Marquez. “It’s easy for me to adapt quickly to a circuit,” Lorenzo said, “I can quickly find a fast rhythm.”

Lorenzo’s hope is that Marquez’s lack of experience on a MotoGP bike at Motegi will work against him. On the evidence of recent races, it is a forlorn hope, however: Marquez has been fast from the off, and if he gets some practice on Saturday, he should be competitive straight away.

This could all be part of Lorenzo and Yamaha’s new strategy for trying to beat Marquez. For the past few races, Lorenzo has tried to crank up the pressure on the young Spaniard and force him into an error. Yamaha are hoping that their psychological warfare will help delay the title fight to Valencia, but their latest skirmish failed.

Race Direction listened calmly to Yamaha’s request for a penalty against Marquez for his collision with Jorge Lorenzo after exiting pit lane, but they ultimately rejected it. It was dismissed as a racing incident, with both parties to blame, Marquez for not looking, and Lorenzo for running wide. Several parties in the paddock pointed out that Lorenzo never runs wide normally, so to do so on that lap is in itself noteworthy.

Though Marquez is still the odds on favorite to be MotoGP champion, he has not quite secured the title just yet. That didn’t prevent the Repsol Media account from jumping the gun, and accidentally tweeting a link to the page on the Repsol website celebrating Marquez’ title as the youngest champion ever.

The web page and tweet were an embarrassing error, but not uncommon in these situations. Press officers and PR staff like to work ahead, preparing pages like this ahead of time so that they can be published as soon as their goal has been achieved, in the same way that newspapers keep obituaries on file of people who are still alive, just in case they have an accident.

Publishing such information early remains rather embarrassing, however. As one wag tweeted, Repsol Honda would be better showing their pit boards earlier, rather than their championship celebration pages.

Photo: Yamaha Racing

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


  1. smiler says:

    The God’s of Tarmac laying and weather are not on the side, of Dorna, Merguez and Repsol clearly.

    With luck the likes of Cal, Rossi and Crashista and anyone else will ensure the Spanish Armada gets another kicking this weekend. It would be great to see Cal withg a Posium, along with Rossi and Bautista back on form creating carnage by taking Merguez out before the first corner, as he is want to do.

    The Spanish Championship is getting very dull.

  2. n/a says:

    Yamaha can get f****d.

    Sad day for what’s supposed to be the best motorbike racing championship in the world when one team tries to get another team put back with penalties.

    If that’s Yamaha’s attitude, they can stay the f**k at home and let real racers like Marquez get on with it.