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.

Day One: Who Really Was the Fastest Around Losail?

03/14/2011 @ 10:05 am, by Jensen Beeler7 COMMENTS

Day One: Who Really Was the Fastest Around Losail? Casey Stoner Repsol Honda

As you may have realized already this week, Asphalt & Rubber is coming to you live from Qatar, as MotoGP finishes up its last testing weekend of the pre-season, and gets ready for its first race of the year. Qatar is a strange country, mostly in that it’s not that different from the United States (at least not nearly as different as I was expecting, as this is my first trip to the Middle East). Perhaps even stranger is the laid back atmosphere of the MotoGP paddock during the testing session (maybe 1/4 as many people as a normal GP weekend, sans MotoGP fans). While we sit through Day Two of testing, which is currently underway, here’s something to chew on from Day One.

Now the purpose of MotoGP testing is of course actually testing the motorcycles, new parts, setups, etc., and not the attainment of absolute lap times. Therefore it strikes me funny on how much concern is given over to whom was fastest on a given day of testing, as there’s an obvious disconnect between what the teams are trying to achieve, and what the fans would like to see (with the journalists unsurprisingly pandering to this latter group).

That all being said, some sort of analysis has to come out of the event, and the path of least resistance is in the time sheet stamped out by Dorna, and handed to the assembled press. However if you drill down into the times lap by lap, not only do you get a better idea of the consistency that the MotoGP riders are attaining, but also it provides for another way to sift and sort the riders into some sort of categorical heirarchy, since that seems to be the name of the game at these tests.

Below is the first day of testing at Losail, sorted by best lap time. I’ve added in how many laps each rider did in the 1’57 and 1’56 ranges, along with their total number of laps for good measure. While we see some very quick riders, very few are consistently quick. Most notably, the fastest man of the day was Dani Pedrosa; but while the Spainiard is certainly very quick, he only lapped in the 1’56 range twice, whereas Casey Stoner seemed content to stay there all day long. You may see where I’m headed here…

Pos. No. Rider Team Best Time 1:57′s 1:56′s Laps
1 26 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 1’56.271 11 2 41
2 27 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda 1’56.414 7 12 32
3 7 Hiroshi Aoyama San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’56.444 17 3 59
4 11 Ben Spies Yamaha Racing 1’56.563 7 1 38
5 1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Racing 1’56.682 21 13 60
6 5 Colin Edwards Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’56.742 9 2 42
7 4 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda 1’56.780 16 4 56
8 46 Valentino Rossi Ducati Marlboro 1’57.038 26 0 57
9 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati Marlboro 1’57.137 7 0 57
10 14 Randy de Puniet Pramac Racing 1’57.143 4 0 39
11 58 Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’57.226 26 0 57
12 19 Alvaro Bautista Rizla Suzuki 1’57.302 18 0 61
13 8 Hector Barbera Mapfre Aspar 1’57.325 8 0 69
14 65 Loris Capirossi Pramac Racing 1’57.437 1 0 56
15 17 Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing 1’57.499 5 0 49
16 35 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’57.737 2 0 51
17 24 Toni Elias LCR Honda 1’58.250 0 0 65

It would seem that if we really want to find out who was “fastest” during the first day of testing at Losail, it would be more appropriate then to rank the riders in a way that reflects not only how many top times they achieved, but also in the number of laps they completed in total. While some of the slots could be argued up or down for a couple of the riders, I think the below rank and ordering is more appropriate to see who was “dominating” in the Qatari Desert last night.

Pos. No. Rider Team Best Time 1:57′s 1:56′s Laps
1 27 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda 1’56.414 7 12 32
2 1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Racing 1’56.682 21 13 60
3 46 Valentino Rossi Ducati Marlboro 1’57.038 26 0 57
4 58 Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’57.226 26 0 57
5 4 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda 1’56.780 16 4 56
6 26 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 1’56.271 11 2 41
7 7 Hiroshi Aoyama San Carlo Honda Gresini 1’56.444 17 3 59
8 19 Alvaro Bautista Rizla Suzuki 1’57.302 18 0 61
9 5 Colin Edwards Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’56.742 9 2 42
10 11 Ben Spies Yamaha Racing 1’56.563 7 1 38
11 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati Marlboro 1’57.137 7 0 57
12 8 Hector Barbera Mapfre Aspar 1’57.325 8 0 69
13 14 Randy de Puniet Pramac Racing 1’57.143 4 0 39
14 17 Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing 1’57.499 5 0 49
15 35 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’57.737 2 0 51
16 65 Loris Capirossi Pramac Racing 1’57.437 1 0 56
17 24 Toni Elias LCR Honda 1’58.250 0 0 65

Photo: © 2011 Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. Odie says:

    At the risk of geeking out, how about doing some basic statistics on the lap times? If you have access to all the lap times for all the riders, you could do some basic stuff like the average lap time, the mean lap time and (I apologize if you already know this) the standard deviation. The SD (standard deviation) will give you an even better picture than counting the number of laps a rider did under 1:56 and 1:57. These functions (mean, average, SD, min max) are all standard function in Excel.

  2. ed says:

    great story. further proof of stoner’s speed around this track. no need to geek out (further). what better picture do you need? the numbers depict an undeniable, statistical fact: stoner was consistently faster than perdrosa. and probably every year since 2007.

  3. Keith says:

    If I didn’t know Valentino was getting his first full test on a relativly new to him motorcycle I’d wonder if he was sandbagging… BUT if he was it was to gain more data and a good base line, remember he is possibly one of if not the best development rider out there. Then again I could be full of beans. Bautista got some decent laps in considering how much trouble Rizla/Suzuki seems to have been having for some time.

  4. ovd says:

    Interesting numbers. Also interesting: http://www.motomatters.com/ had this analysis also… yesterday.

  5. Thanks ovd. Despite the fact I’m sharing a room with the MotoMatters crew out here in Qatar, I wasn’t aware that they had done an analysis like that…or that Victoria does the sort of analysis here on her WSBK coverage…or that there’s a growing voice in motorcycle journalism that some writers are focusing on the wrong aspect of testing sessions.

  6. Day One: Who Really Was the Fastest Around Losail? – http://aspha.lt/d3 #motorcycle

  7. Excellent write-up, whether another site have covered it in a similar fashion or not. I’m getting fed-up with lazy write-ups of testing/practice sessions by certain so-called journalists that just don’t seem to care.

    Keep it up guys!