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.

Gino Borsoi’s MotoGP Dilemma for Team Aspar

07/05/2013 @ 3:57 pm, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

Gino Borsois MotoGP Dilemma for Team Aspar randy de puniet aprilia art aspar COTA Jensen Beeler 635x423

The Power Electronics Aspar team have seized the opportunity offered by the CRT rules with both hands. By teaming up with Aprilia and employing two talented and fast riders, Aspar has helped turn the RSV4-based ART machine into a genuinely competitive machine, in every respect except for horsepower.

At Assen, Aleix Espargaro finished eighth, ahead of two factory Ducatis and three other satellite MotoGP machines. The bike is clearly good.

For 2014, however, Aspar must face a dilemma. With the introduction of the spec-electronics system, teams choosing to race the ART bikes will lose the current advantage those machines have, a highly-developed and very effective electronics package.

Teams running ART machines must choose, either to accept the Magneti Marelli developed software, and keep 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines, or persuade Aprilia to port their software to the spec-ECU Marelli, and try to race with 20 liters of fuel and either 5 or 9 engines, depending on whether the Grand Prix Commission decided Aprilia had already been competing in MotoGP as an MSMA member or not.

The subject is highly sensitive in the Aspar team. When I asked team manager Gino Borsoi about the team’s plans for 2014, his first response was to deflect the question with a joke: “I will be on holiday, so I don’t know what the team is doing!” More seriously, Borsoi said the team faced some serious decisions ahead of them.

“We haven’t decided yet, right now,” Borsoi  said. “We have to study with Aprilia what will be the future of our electronics. And after that, we have a clear situation, we can decide if it’s better to stay or move to another project like a Yamaha or Honda.”

The announcement of the Honda production racer and the ability to lease Yamaha engines were options which could steer Aspar away from the Aprilia ART bike, Borsoi admitted.

“There are three good projects at the moment. Honda, for sure everybody know that when Honda do something, they make a really good job. The Yamaha option for sure is one of the best solutions, because you can get an engine with as much performance as the factory, and you can have 24 liters [of fuel].”

But staying with the Aprilia ART was still a very serious option, especially given the proven competitiveness of the bike.

“Our bike now is at a really good level,” Borsoi said. “We are fighting with the factory bikes. We have information, we have data, we have a lot of material too, in our truck, so for us it would be a little bit easier if we continue in the same way. But the new rules are really important for us to decide which kind of situation we want to be in.”

Borsoi agreed that the new rules were hardest on their team, with the Aspar bikes already so competitive.

The key decision for the Aspar team to make is whether they would stay as a non-MSMA entry, and use the standard software, or continue to use the Aprilia software package as an MSMA entry, and accept the cut in fuel allowance to 20 liters and the reduction in engines. Using less fuel would be hard, but it would not provide an insurmountable problem.

Were Aspar currently using too much fuel, over the current allowance of 21 liters for the factory prototypes? “Not too much fuel, no,” Borsoi admitted. “We are near the limit, but if we have to go with 20 liters, we will have to work a lot.” It would be a major challenge, though not impossible. “Not a big step, but definitely not easy,” Borsoi said.

The question of engine reliability would be much more difficult if Aspar decided to compete as an MSMA entry. At present, it is unclear whether Aprilia will be regarded as a new factory, who have not raced in MotoGP since 2007 and will therefore be allowed a total of 9 engines, or whether they will be regarded as an existing factory, and have to survive with just 5 engines.

In the latter case, it would be almost impossible for Aspar to manage the season, Borsoi admitted. “Five engines, at the moment it’s impossible,” said the former Italian rider. “Maybe Aprilia decide to change this engine, to make some upgrade to it. But for us, nine engines should be a perfect number. Less [than nine], it’s a risk for us.”

If Aspar wish to switch to Yamaha, they will have to make a decision soon, as the Japanese factory has indicated they want to know by the summer break which teams will be using their leased engine options.

If they decide to switch to Honda or stay with Aprilia, they have a little more time. But at some point, they will have to face up to that dilemma, and make a choice for the future.

Photo: © 2013 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

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: “At present, it is unclear whether Aprilia will be regarded as a new factory, who have not raced in MotoGP since 2007″

    they’ve already been hard done so rest assured they WILL be extended special dispensation.

    Suzuki, no dispensation FOR YOU…!!! (soup nazi voice)

    re: “Maybe Aprilia decide to change this engine, to make some upgrade to it. But for us, nine engines should be a perfect number. Less [than nine], it’s a risk for us.”

    breaking news, it’s a risk on 9 engines. once you start building those things, you’ll need all you can get (hell 12 might not be enough?). observe, the factory just scattered 2. the limitations that I’ve only been on about for years are starting to show.

    so that leaves only 1 choice… start the eggheads porting the software, then take your 24 liters and 12 engines and get outta dodge. you can thank me later.

  2. jeram says:

    Norm G, retaining the software while retaining 24L and 12 engines is not an option. it requires the spec ECU

    Porting the exisiting software required 20L and 5-9 engines

  3. TheSwede says:

    I say go spec electronics. They’re gonna keep getting better, they have to at least come close to factory stuff so Dorna can convince (force?) everyone to accept it. The series is heading to a spec ECU, it just needs to get good enough first.

    So go with that, and keep the fuel, engines and soft tires. Because I have a sneaking suspicion that Aprilla is gonna keep embarrassing Ducati and have that ART turned into a podium finisher by the end of 2014. Espargaro has been working his ass off developing it, and they keep improving in leaps and bounds. Winning in today’s championship requires a bike built to suit the tires, and they’re doing a fantastic job of it. Maybe it isn’t that hard? There’s mountains of data on the tires and their performance, and if you know exactly how the tires work, shouldn’t that help the design process?.. Ducati should be seriously mortified..

  4. Ray says:

    Why are they only using 21 litres now? I thought they were allowed 24.

  5. I’ve thought a lot about this particular problem. Aspar made a difficult decision to use the Aprilia ECU this year, as it puts them above the other CRTs when it comes to performance this season, but they’ll be starting from scratch with a spec ECU and software starting next season. NGM Forward will have a whole season of tweaking the Magneti Marelli software under their belts and so one would expect them to continue forward progress compared to Aspar taking a huge step backwards.

    I will be very, very interesting to see how this plays out.

  6. “I will be”

    Proofreading FAIL. *roll eyes*

  7. Norm G. says:

    re: “Norm G, retaining the software while retaining 24L and 12 engines is not an option. it requires the spec ECU Porting the exisiting software required 20L and 5-9 engines”

    thanks misread. ok I hereby rephrase, accept the MagMar ecu (they’re just 1′s and 0′s. it’s not like it’s going to make that big a difference), then take your 24 liters, 12 engines and keep it movin’.

    now that crossplanes (and possibly d16′s) are going on lease, the engine issue supercedes any other considerations.