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.

John Hopkins to Take a Year Off from Racing

10/08/2012 @ 12:23 pm, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

John Hopkins to Take a Year Off from Racing John Hopkins Miller Motorsports Park WSBK Scott Jones

John Hopkins is to take a year out from racing to allow himself to recover fully from the multiple serious injuries that have plagued him throughout the 2012 season. In particular, a nagging hip injury first incurred at Monza has forced the American to take a break from racing, in order to allow his injuries to heal completely before attempting to race again.

It is a rare thing for motorcycle racers to make sensible decisions when it comes to recovering from injury, so for Hopkins to take the step to focus on his recovery is a major step. The American has suffered several serious injuries throughout his career, but his 2012 season has been particularly blighted by bad luck and mishap. His season got off to a difficult start, falling heavily at Phillip Island and breaking his hand at a pre-season test in Australia.

He had already been having difficult with that hand, as he had injured it in a crash at Brno aboard Suzuki’s MotoGP bike, an injury that never really healed properly. After having the finger he had broken amputated when it became infected after multiple surgeries, Hopkins appeared to be on his way back until the crash at Monza in which he broke a hip.

It is a risk for Hopkins to take a year out from racing, as securing a ride for 2014 will not be easy. However, his options at the moment are extremely limited, and with Suzuki set to make a return to MotoGP in 2014, he may yet get a second shot at the championship. After the jump is the press release issued by Suzuki on Hopkins’ decision to take a year away from racing:

HOPKINS RULES HIMSELF OUT FOR 2013

Team Suzuki Press Office – October 7.

FIXI Crescent Suzuki racer John Hopkins will be taking a sabbatical from professional motorcycle racing for 2013 as he prioritises a return to full fitness before considering the next steps in his career.

Hopkins has been struggling with injuries for the whole 2012 season and was forced to withdraw early from this weekend’s World Superbike event in France due to a re-occurrence of his hip injury. He initially had to have a finger-top amputated in January, due to the after-effects of an injury from 2011, and then crashed heavily in a pre-season test in Australia and broke the same hand. He had to undergo six surgeries, including failed corrective surgeries, suffered a severe infection and eventual amputation of the finger in a span of four months. Then the same hand was badly broken only six weeks after the amputation, which resulted in the 29th surgery of his career – at only 29-years-old! Hopkins made a return to the Suzuki GSX-R at the Imola round, but then crashed heavily two events later in Monza, a massive high-side that resulted in him severely injuring his hip.

Hopkins again returned to competitive action after a one-race lay-off, but has battled against the damage to his hip for the remainder of the season. He has shown glimpses of the talent that led him to fourth place in the MotoGP World championship in 2007 and to the fantastic performances in BSB in 2011, but has been unable to produce the form he knows he needs to be as competitive on the world stage. Hopkins will return home to America to have further tests and repair evaluations on his injured hip and will then decide what his next course of action will be.

John Hopkins:

“I have really struggled with my hip since the crash at Monza and I know that it is a priority to get my health sorted before I can even think about racing again. I didn’t want to pledge myself to the FIXI Crescent Suzuki team for 2013 and then not be able to give 100% because the injury is a constant worry, so although this is a difficult decision it is the correct one. I will be going back to America for a bunch of tests and then we’ll decide what the best course of action is. If that is a hip replacement or something similar, then that is what I am prepared to do to make sure I can get my health and fitness back. At the moment the injury is influencing everything I do in my home, personal and racing life, so I need to get it sorted out properly. I still have the desire and passion to race against the world’s best riders but every time I have pumped myself up to go for it this season, the hip has quickly and painfully reminded me that I need to be careful – and that’s no way to go racing.

“Everyone at the team has been very supportive this year, because they know what I’ve been through, so I want to send my thanks to them for all their encouragement and backing. I’d like to also thank all the racing fans and my personal sponsors – in particular Arai, Alpinestars and Monster who have been with me for so long – they have all been so positively behind me, I’m sorry that it’s not worked out this year, but I really do hope to be back!”

Paul Denning – Team Principal:

“We all saw what a formidable competitor John Hopkins is throughout 2011 – in BSB, the Silverstone WSBK wildcard race and on the Suzuki MotoGP machine. He’s not a prolific crasher by any means – nearly every rider on the grid crashed in the Philip Island tests! – but John has just suffered ridiculous bad luck and has managed to create new injuries or severely aggravate old ones every time there has been an incident. It’s an indication of his talent that John has been somewhere close to the best riders on lap times in WSBK even with the restrictions he’s had to cope with.

“John needs to get himself fully healthy, allow his body to recover in the proper timescales and refresh his mind from the constant pain caused by these injuries. He’s been racing at the top level since he was 16 years old, and it’s time to give himself the chance to recover. If, following that process, John feels motivated and ready to return to racing he knows he only has to call and we’ll be at the track straight away with a bike for him to test. On behalf of the whole Crescent Suzuki family – thank you John and we really hope that 2013 is the beginning of a great future.”

Source: Suzuki; Photo: © 2012 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. Afletra says:

    Get well soon then. just wanna see you on the track…soon, again :)

  2. Halfie 30 says:

    Godspeed Hopkins!!!

  3. Taking a year off HAD to be a hard decision for Hopper. I hope he manages to heal well and get a ride (if that’s what he wants) in 2014. The guy sure does have grit and determination!

    No doubt, somebody will be along shortly to call him a tourist.

  4. Damo says:

    @Trane

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see him wearing blue riding a Suzuki MotoGP bike in 2014.

  5. Gritboy says:

    Excellent idea!!! The Hopper needs to recoup and come back strong and on a great bike/team.

  6. Joey Wilson says:

    I have been following JH since his days in the Denning-led Suzi GP team, back in the 2-strokes. While his talent has been undeniable, his battles with this personal demons have not, I hope, robbed him of his best days. We tend to not think of racers as professional athletes, but just like in the NFL, it can be a short carrer off the back of an injury. John has had more injuries and surgeries than most of us could bear, and has relentlessly thrown himself back into the ring time after time after time. I hope that in his new sobriety and this needed rest and healing will ultimately deliver him back to full-time racing in this better place in his life. It would indeed be a shame if his time has passed, but this is the risk you run when the demons, unchecked, catch you out, and after the dust settles you cannot rejoin the race.

  7. “It would indeed be a shame if his time has passed, but this is the risk you run when the demons, unchecked, catch you out, and after the dust settles you cannot rejoin the race.”

    It’s a risk we all take in life. Anybody who claims to be above their issues is either lying or deluded. I sincerely hope he comes back with a MotoGP Suzuki ride in 2014, but if he chooses to hang up his gloves, he’ll have my complete support and admiration nonetheless. We all face our demons, and our lives play out according to the choices we make along the way.