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.

Jonathan Rea Talks About The Differences Between The Electronics in MotoGP and World Superbike

10/02/2012 @ 3:31 pm, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

Jonathan Rea Talks About The Differences Between The Electronics in MotoGP and World Superbike Jonathan Rea MotoGP Repsol Honda Scott Jones

The chance to substitute in the Repsol Honda team for the injured Casey Stoner was a great opportunity for Jonathan Rea to get a feel for a MotoGP bike and demonstrate his talent and potential, objectives in which he succeeded admirably. But it was also a chance for MotoGP journalists to grill the Ulsterman on the differences between various aspects of MotoGP and World Superbikes, Rea having shown he was both fast enough to feel the difference, smart enough to understand the difference, and articulate enough to explain it to reporters.

At Aragon, the subject turned to electronics, and the difference between the systems used in the two series. The topic was broached as Rea was explaining what had happened to him during the race. He had got caught up cycling through the various electronics strategies the Honda RC213V is equipped with, looking for one that would help him as the tire wore throughout the race. A lack of dry track time getting to understand how the electronics affected the bike as the tires begin to wear left him confused and struggling to find a setting that would work, Rea told reporters.

“During the race I exhausted all the options on my bike with electronics,” Rea said speaking on Sunday night. “I was playing a lot with traction control settings, also mapping changes and engine brake changes. To be honest, it got to the point where I was just confused and I had to just open the throttle and do my best, pick the line. It was just one of those things that a race can teach you, when the tire drops down, when the fuel load drops down, how you need to work with the bike. With more time I can understand, but for a huge part of that race I was a little bit confused whether I was doing the right thing with the buttons or the wrong thing.”

Rea was asked exactly what he was looking for, more traction control or less, to help him get to the end of the race. He answered that the confusion was caused by the differences between the bikes and the tires in the World Superbike and MotoGP series. “The [traction control] strategies work completely differently,” Rea explained. “In World Superbike during the race, normally I would flip the traction control to let the electronics have more control. In effect, basically you’re trying to save the tire at the end of the race. Here it works the opposite way, where you have to reduce the traction control and let the bike spin more, because the engine is slowing the bike down too much,” Rea said.

The problem arose about halfway through the race, Rea explained. “Around half race distance, I took a lot of traction control off the bike, but then I was sliding around too much, so I put it back on. Then I was like ‘Shit, I’m going no faster, so just take it off and spin.’ In the end, we finished the race on quite a low setting. That worked OK, but it’s the opposite way from Superbike and it was hard to get it into my head.”

Reporters wanted to know whether it was the number of options which had confused Rea, or just the fact that the two series required diametrically opposed approaches. “For sure you have more options on a GP bike,” Rea replied, “but I was confused because I knew which way I should go, but the lap time difference wasn’t a lot, and I didn’t understand is this actually better or is it making it worse? Instead of pinpointing my lines, I was in a rhythm, but to get closer to Bautista I was trying a lot of different things which meant my race was very inconsistent. Sometimes I would miss the apex, or run wide, but it’s because I’m trying different things with my style to learn.”

Rea went on to explain that the range of electronics strategies were virtually unlimited in MotoGP, and that it needed a lot of experience to understand what works best as the race progresses. “Electronically, in MotoGP, the possibilities are endless,” Rea said. “With all the wet sessions, I haven’t been able to fully understand exactly what happens when the tire really goes down. In the qualifying sessions we had in Misano and Aragon, you don’t have time to put in 20 laps and try to understand what the traction control is doing, because you’re fighting for a grid position. Brno was like learning to ride a bicycle again, so I don’t classify that as a test. The one-and-a-half days we did here, that was when I practiced riding a MotoGP bike, but still for me, I’ve a lot to learn. ”

“But the main differences are the possibilities of the electronics. In Superbikes I feel that with those electronics, the rider can make a much bigger difference. You can see for example on my bike, where our strategies aren’t so sophisticated in Superbike I can still be quite competitive. But here the electronics is a huge part because we have such a strong engine that you need good electronics to be able to finish the race with still grip left on the tire. This was the hardest thing for me to understand, you can’t teach this without doing race distance. For sure if I was to do this again, I would spend a lot more time on old tires and putting more and deeper thought into the electronics and understanding that.”

Rea was asked if would like to have the MotoGP electronics on his Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR World Superbike machine. Unsurprisingly, Rea’s was enthusiastic about the idea. “Yes, I think I can learn a lot from how this is working,” he said. “You know, HRC is a very smart company and the strategies they have inside the ECUs, it’s cutting edge, it’s something you can’t just buy. We need to learn exactly how they’re doing this. When you have an ECU or you buy an electronics system, you buy it in a box, but it’s only as good as the little guy in the factory or the ECU programmers put inside, and that’s where we really suffer in Superbikes. So we need a much more sophisticated system. On the plus side, what I think, and I’ve told my engineers, is I think the Superbike has a much easier drive off the corner. It feels like when I open the throttle on this bike not much happens directly, where on the Superbike I feel a lot more connection between the throttle and the rear tire. There’s pluses and minuses, but for sure we can learn a lot from this paddock.”

Was the difference in the throttle connection feeling down to the extra horsepower of the MotoGP bikes or the differences between the spec Pirelli tires used in World Superbikes and the MotoGP Bridgestones, Rea was asked. “For sure we have less horsepower in Superbikes, but we can use a lot more horsepower at less percentage of the throttle. I think that’s a lot because we don’t rely on the electronics so much, because you have to keep the tire here, so.”

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.


  1. Afletra says:

    I hope can see him in the motoGP grid soon. For a full season of course

  2. It’s amazing how far electronics, fuel mapping and traction control have come in the last few decades. Bikes that would have been all but unrideable and killed a set of tires in 15 laps, can now be tamed down so that almost anybody could ride them, even in the serious wet, and you can easily get 45 to 50 laps out of a set of tires.

    So much sliding into corners on the brakes, everybody’s feet out just in case, I wonder if the traction control abilities will reach the point where riders will be power sliding out of corners on worn tires, and actually be faster than those doing clean exits? Something akin to how a Nissan GT-R exits a high-speed corner, drifting all four wheels. Will we see a drift series in motorcycle racing someday?

  3. TC says:

    before we know it, MotoGP bikes will be ridden by robots. The throttle will be wide open all the time and electronics will do all the work to manage the race… “racing” will be nothing more than a parade.

    Wait. Isn’t that what we have in MotoGP now?

  4. paulus says:

    “midget” robots :)

  5. Jimmy Smith JR says:



    Lil Dani Ped-robots!

  6. richard kaye says:

    Has anyone noticed how Jonathan Rea seems to be at the center of on-track incidents in the races he participates in? Look at WSBK and MotoGP this year; he is either the cause or part of the aftermath nearly every time.

  7. Singletrack says:

    “To be honest, it got to the point where I was just confused and I had to just open the throttle and do my best, pick the line.”

    Oh, does he mean like what racing should be like? Traction control between the ears.
    I’m not a complete luddite, but what’s wrong with the rider being in control of the traction?