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.

Ferrari vs. Ducati: The Great Debate Continues

11/29/2010 @ 1:19 pm, by Jensen Beeler19 COMMENTS

Ferrari vs. Ducati: The Great Debate Continues Ducati Ferrari showdown 635x423

Motor Trend has weighed in on the great debate: which is faster, a car or a bike? Wanting to explore the issue with some style, the car mag proved prints isn’t dead, and took a Ferrari 458 and Ducati 1198S Superbike to the track to see which Rosso Corsa was fastest. With a quarter-mile drag and a lap around the Streets of Willow, MT has its definitive answer on which is the fastest Italian, but we imagine the answer to what form of transportation is ultimately faster will remain an open debate for a while longer. The video is after the jump, stop watching at the 8:22 mark if you don’t want to hear a bunch of excuses being made.

Source: Motor Trend via Autoblog


  1. spy says:

    the narrative was a bit conflicting. he said you have to be someone like steve rapp to get this type of performance from the 1198S and then sort of implied you dont have to be on the ferrari 458 italia (which is probably my favorite car). though they got a GT2 Champion Justin Bell – his lap times can not be had by a normal every day driver. i reckon Justin Bell is a better and more successful car driver than Rapp is a motorcycle driver.

  2. Flavio says:

    kk…another point….this is the older version, with -20 hp ans +20lbs….
    so the new one would kick ass even more

  3. Keith says:

    lol…have to be somebody like Steve Rapp? HA! I’d bet plugged nickle that there are more than a few club racers and let’s be honest track day riders who can explore the capabilities of the 1198S on track and still get better times that their comatriots who club race and track day the 458. Face it people motorcycles inspite of being a little behind tech wise have made bigger leaps of performance and utilizing what they have than the cars have. In stock trim…more importantly you can’t push either on the steet that hard, not even a little bit.

    Mind you though…things MIGHT be slightly different on a street course. Say something like the IoM and I don’t know about you kids but I’d buy tickets to go see that little race. ;^)

  4. Odie says:

    Rapp turned 1:19 at SOW (Streets of Willow) which is a small track that doesn’t really lend itself to a liter bike. While 1:19 is fast by almost anyone standards (I’d kill to turn that, some local young guns were setting lap records right around 1:16.0 on …wait for it…a 600 back in 2008. That’s 6sec faster than Bell in the Ferrari.

  5. Tom says:

    When Ducatis spontaneously combust due to poor design or build quality, then there is a debate.

  6. BikePilot says:

    Cool stuff! I think the comments re being like rapp are meant to indicate that it takes more skill to ride a bike in a fairly competent manner than to drive a car in a similar manner. Not that a noob cager could turn the same laptimes as a talented race driver, but that the percent difference in a noob cager’s lap vs the race driver’s lap is likely much less than the difference between a noob-rider’s lap and a pro-rider’s lap (if the noob could get ’round the track at all on the duc). Its just easier to push a cage to the limits of traction because it doesn’t fall over. Its no easier to pick a fast line or get the braking points just right though.

    Also, a big point I think is the cost difference. Most anyone can afford a 1198 if they really want to – the base model is about the same as an econo-box cage. Few people could afford the fast cage – it is more costly than most homes and those usually require 30-year mortgages (and as we’ve seen are still out of far too many people’s financial means). Nothing puts outright performance in the hands of the ordinary worker like a motorcycle and no matter what your income nothing provides the visceral excitement of a thundering v2 motorcycle at full tilt!

  7. Damo says:

    For me one fact stands out: Most people can actually afford an 1198.

    Honestly though if they wanted to really embarrass the Ferrari they should have ran it against an Aprilia RSV4 Factory, which I still contend is the best bike to come out of Italy since the 916.

  8. 76 says:

    Streets of willow yes the bike is going to win…. With that said they should have driven right across the street to “Big Willow” and see the difference there. I’m thinking the times get alittle closer to maybe upside down at that point. Streets is not a fast course, Big willow is, I think they needed to included that as well but I guess Motor Trend didnt want to pay for a binned Ferrari. You crash there its not going to be pretty.

  9. Damo says:

    Ever on the Big Willow the 458 wont have enough room to make up the slack.

    Just as a sanity look at all the supercar times posted on the Nürburgring and compare them to WSBK lap times.

  10. Rob says:

    Bikes will tend to be faster on more open tracks with less tight corners and braking zones. Im not sure it would have been any more close on Big Willow. The cars only big advantage is braking zones, very tight corners and esses where the bike would have to flick side to side. Larger sweeping corners and straights play into the bike’s hands for sure.

  11. Steve Lang says:

    I’ll be driving the 458 to a track day pulling my trailer behind with my 1198 on top. Win Win.

  12. Prich says:

    They should have had Justin Bell host TopGear America. He seems like he’d be a good presenter.

  13. hoyt says:

    The sound of that v8 is worth another topic by itself.

  14. Greg says:

    Tom, I believe the days of Ducati’s poor design/build quality ended when TGP picked them up and the upward trend has continued through today. Looks like the old Cagiva days are long in the past. Hyundai’s were terrible in the 1990′s as well.

  15. Tom says:

    I was referring the the tendency for Ferraris to burst into flames. Ferraris are overrated. Ducatis perform.

  16. Doug says:

    Ducatis also last….despite rumors. As long as you ride them routinely and maintain them properly they are bullet proof. My 98′ 916 is still running strong with 34k on the odo and 3 or 4 years of hard track use. She’s still my favorite bike in my stable and the one I choose to ride each weekend!

    Can’t wait to see what Ducati is releasing mid-2011 since the 1198 is going away.

  17. Doug says:

    One more thing…the narrator says the Ducati has a V-Twin engine. Completely wrong…’s an L-Twin engine.

    Harley = 45 degree V-twin
    Aprilia = 60 degree V-twin
    Ducati = L-Twin….90 degree of course

    Just thought that should be clarified.

  18. Raul says:

    Kevin Schwantz broke the SCCA lap record [for its class] on a C5 Zo6 at Willow Springs then got on a K1 GSX-R 1000 and murdered the cage by 7sec. That was in a m/c mag back in the early 00′s.
    Oh and another really cool test was done few years back between Doug Chandler on his almost stock ZX10R and some famous cager in a 700+hp Skyline at Button Willow.
    Bike won by 5sec+
    Race bike vs proper racecars, bikes lose.
    Sportbikes vs street legal fast cars, bikes whoop ass.

  19. frank says:

    You can also go to YouTube and watch modified MOPEDS, yep those little one bangers that need pedals to get going, blow off Ferrari’s in drag races. Actually, I would be happy to take either one of the test vehicles, and I have a much better chance of being able to afford the Ducati than the Ferrari.