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.

Wednesday Summary at Valencia: Ducati’s Hope, Espargaro’s Improvement, & Hayden’s Honda

11/15/2013 @ 7:33 am, by David Emmett1 COMMENT

Wednesday Summary at Valencia: Ducatis Hope, Espargaros Improvement, & Haydens Honda Tuesday Valencia MotoGP Test Scott Jones 11 635x422

The rain that threatened didn’t come, to both the relief and the despair of everyone at the MotoGP test in Valencia. After 18 races, three flyaways, and two days of testing, there were plenty of folk who had been secretly doing rain dances so they could pack up and go home early.

As much as we all love MotoGP – and given the number of people who have to work second jobs to be able to afford to be there, love is the only explanation – the season is long and tiring, and testing is necessary, but a real grind to both do and watch.

There were a lot of jealous looks at the empty space where the Factory Yamaha trucks had stood, the team having upped sticks and left at the end of Tuesday.

There were plenty of people who were happy to ride, though, and people who had things to test. Pol Espargaro was delighted to be back on the bike, and continued his impressive debut on the Tech 3 bike. Aleix Espargaro continued work on the NGM Forward Yamaha FTR, while Hiroshi Aoyama and Nicky Hayden continued to ride the production Honda.

At Ducati, a mildly despondent Andrea Dovizioso continued to turn laps, while new signing Cal Crutchlow learned about the grind that riding for Ducati can be, testing lots of things that don’t appear to make much difference to the bike.

Crutchlow remained positive, pointing to the fact that even though the experiments had failed to produce a blistering lap time, the fact that his feedback was the same as Dovizioso’s and the other Ducati riders, it would prove useful in the search for improvement.

Ducati’s hope – or more precisely, the hope of Ducati’s riders – is now firmly pinned on new Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall’Igna. Though Dall’Igna has only just started, and will realistically not be able to make a major difference for another six months or so, the first impressions of him were good, for both Dovizioso and Crutchlow.

Dall’Igna listens rather than speaks, and when he speaks, what he says is worth hearing. “I like this, I think it is the right way,” Dovizioso commented. The Italian had not had anything to test, Crutchlow had spend all day playing with set up.

Where yesterday, they had found something to improve the bike at the end of the test, on Wednesday, they found something which made it radically worse. Given that the bike is seemingly impervious to setup changes, with only a tiny window where setup seems to have any effect at all, even finding something which ruins it is useful data. Dall’Igna has his work cut out for him.

While the factory Yamaha team had gone home, the Tech 3 team were still hard at work. Pol Espargaro has been very impressive since Monday, getting up to speed quickly and ending just one and a quarter seconds off the time of Marquez. His progress has been marked, dropping his lap time by 1.6 seconds from the first day to the last.

He was still learning to adapt his style from Moto2, feathering the clutch and waiting for the rear chatter to start from the spec-clutch fitted to Moto2 bikes. That doesn’t happen on the MotoGP machines, the bikes having much more sophisticated engine braking strategies and different tires, catching Pol out a little.

The biggest thing, though, was the amount of lean angle he was carrying, dragging knees and elbows, and wearing through his suits. Espargaro told the press he needs to work on picking up the bike sooner, and using the power to help get it upright and driving out of the corner.

The arrival of Pol Espargaro has given Bradley Smith extra motivation. There is a fierce rivalry between the two, which is driving Smith on to find more speed where he can. When Espargaro’s lap times started getting uncomfortably close, Smith turned up the wick, eventually posting a very impressive time just three-tenths off the time of fastest man Marc Marquez.

One lap was good, Smith said, but the job now was to turn one fast lap into five fast laps, then ten fast laps, until eventually he could be fast for an entire race. Now having the 2013 factory package, Smith felt he could ride much better than before. The package had no negatives for him, he said, promising much next year.

He is still a way off Marc Marquez, however. The newly crowned world champion ended the test the way he ended the championship: on top. Both he and Dani Pedrosa had spent the last day of the test concentrating on the latest version of the 2014 prototype, instantly recognizable by the massive air intake on the front of the bike.

Gone are the slim eyebrow shapes, replaced with the whale shark mouth on the front, gulping air and forcing back into the fuel-starved 2014 RC213V engine. It was those fuel strategies that the two Honda men had been working on, testing how the bike felt with a liter less fuel in race trim. Was the bike down on power? “The idea is not to lose power, but to save fuel somewhere else,” Dani Pedrosa said.

That means Yamaha is in trouble, as Valentino Rossi has already complained that the M1 feels like a two-stroke jetted to run too lean, weak on power. Yamaha has a couple of months to search for better strategies before testing resumes at Sepang, time they will clearly need.

Both the Forward Yamahas and the Honda RCV1000R production racers will also need some time to work on the electronics. The bikes have not exactly been a magic bullet for making riders competitive, but they are clearly still in need of a lot of work. The biggest problem right now is finding the right setup with the spec Dorna software, something which is merely a matter of time.

But even once the electronics are sorted, they will still take some work to get right. After the initial excitement of the introduction, where the figure of 0.3 seconds off the time of the factory bikes was bandied about, HRC staff is now being more realistic. Casey Stoner reportedly said the bike would be 0.5 to 0.8 seconds slower than a factory bike, but that time target needs some explanation.

The gap of 0.8 seconds should not be taken to mean to Marc Marquez, but rather that if Marc Marquez were to ride both the production racer and the full factory RC213V, Marquez would be 0.5 to 0.8 slower on the RCV1000R than he is on the RC213V.

Unfortunately, Honda has not put Marquez on an RCV1000R, instead leaving Nicky Hayden, Hiroshi Aoyama, and Scott Redding to ride the bikes. Redding is injured, and Hayden and Aoyama are still working on setup, but the question is how competitive they would be if they were on factory bikes.

Hayden ended the test 1.8 seconds behind Marquez, Aoyama 2.2 seconds off the time of Marquez, and though there is still clear room for improvement, the better part of a second of the difference is down to Marc Marquez, rather than any kind of equipment difference.

A more realistic target for Hayden might be to get the bike close to the top 10, and round the spot where the Ducatis are, unless they improve. The Honda production racer is clearly an improvement on most of the old CRT machines, but it’s still a long way from being competitive with the factory prototypes.

MotoGP heads home now, for a well-earned rest. The Forward team will travel to Jerez, for a test at the end of the month with the Ducati test team, along with a number of other Open class entries. But the 2013 season is finally over, and on-track action is rapidly drawing to a close. It’s been a long, memorable and spectacular season. And next year promises to be even better.

Photo: © 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. Norm G. says:

    re: “Hayden ended the test 1.8 seconds behind Marquez, Aoyama 2.2 seconds off the time of Marquez, and though there is still clear room for improvement, the better part of a second of the difference is down to Marc Marquez, rather than any kind of equipment difference.”

    whoa unto thee o’ gentle reader.