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.

MotoGP: Could Engines Decide the Championship?

10/24/2012 @ 6:13 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Could Engines Decide the Championship? Jorge Lorenzo Laguna Seca MotoGP Scott Jones

Ever since Jorge Lorenzo’s #3 engine went up in smoke at Assen, after the Factory Yamaha man was scuttled by Alvaro Bautista in the first corner, MotoGP followers have been asking themselves whether Jorge Lorenzo will make it to the end of the season with the remainder of his allocation, or whether he will have to take a 7th engine and start from pit lane at some point.

As each race goes by, the questions have become more urgent: will this be the race where Lorenzo finally runs out of engines, and hands Dani Pedrosa the advantage in the championship fight?

So how is Jorge Lorenzo doing with his engines? Is he, as many suspect, in imminent danger of losing an engine, and with it potentially his second World Championship? What strategies have his pit crew been using to manage with one engine prematurely withdrawn? And will those strategies be enough to see him through to the race at Valencia?

A few races after the first-corner crash at Assen, I asked Jorge Lorenzo’s team manager Wilco Zeelenberg if he believed that Lorenzo would have a problem with his engines. “No,” he told me, “it will just give the guys in the garage a bit more work swapping engines.”

Instead of following the standard pattern of using a pair of engines at the start of the season, then adding in engines slowly until the end, replacing older engines as they reach their mileage limits, Lorenzo’s team have spent their weekends juggling engines, swapping them around in a concentrated effort to optimize mileage.

They have of course been helped along they way by bad weather – there have been few weekends this year where at least part of some sessions has not been lost to the weather – but the strategy has so far proved successful.

The team’s strategy has mainly been focused on getting as much mileage as possible out of Lorenzo’s oldest engines – #1 and #2 were both introduced at the first race of the year at Qatar – while saving the later engines for use in the race. Lorenzo’s #1 and #2 engines have been used in a total of 46 and 47 sessions respectively, including 7 races between them.

Though they have not bee raced since Germany (engine #1), at least one of the two engines has been used at every event this year. While those engines help carry a lot of the load during practice, Lorenzo’s later engines (#4, #5, #6) have been spared, seeing most of their action during qualifying and during the race, when performance is at a premium.

It is clear from the usage patterns that this has created an extra workload for Ramon Forcada and the rest of Jorge Lorenzo’s crew. At the nine races that have taken place since Assen, Jorge Lorenzo has used three different engines at three races (Mugello, Laguna Seca and Indianapolis), and four different engines at two others (Brno and Motegi). At the Sachsenring, Lorenzo’s team eked an extra race weekend out of his first two engines, and at Aragon, Misano and Sepang, either his #1 or #2 engines were alternated with later engines.

The contrast to a more traditional strategy is made clear when comparing Lorenzo’s engine usage to that of Dani Pedrosa, the Repsol Honda man still having all of his engines available for use. Unlike Forcada, however, Mike Leitner and his team have not faced the task of juggling engine mileage, concentrating instead on working on set up.

Of all the races since Assen, Pedrosa has only used three engines twice: Once at Laguna Seca, when Pedrosa had a new engine with upgrades which he had tested two weeks’ previously at Mugello and liked; and once at Aragon, where Pedrosa’s #6 engine was slotted into the bike for the Sunday morning warm up, ahead of being used on a regular basis. The rest of the time, Pedrosa has been working with the same two engines all weekend.

Pedrosa’s more traditional engine strategy is clear from the session count for each motor. His #1 and #2 engines have 35 sessions each on them, having been used for the first seven and nine races respectively.

Pedrosa’s #3 engine has just 13 sessions on it before being shelved, that engine specification being superseded by a revised version of the engine that is a little smoother than the one they started the year with. Pedrosa’s #4 engine has born the brunt since then, racking up 27 sessions and being shelved as a back up since Aragon. Meanwhile, Pedrosa’s #5 and #6 engines have been introduced in an orderly fashion, slowly racking up the miles as expected from the start.

Will Jorge Lorenzo run out of engines before the end of the year? The championship leader is actually in better shape than he might have feared. With two races to go – a total of 12 sessions in which he will need two bikes with engines in them – Lorenzo has three relatively low-mileage engines.

Motor #4 has the most sessions on it, having been out 11 times, including 3 races. Numbers 5 and 6 are not far behind, with 8 and 9 sessions on them respectively, as well as a race count of 3 for #5 and 2 for #6. Lorenzo’s high-mileage engines, #1 and #2, are still available, but will be running to the very limits of their endurance now. Even if Lorenzo were to lose another engine, he should be able to make it to the end of the season without having to start from pit lane. But it would not be a comfortable situation to be in.

Lorenzo’s biggest challenge may come not from an exploding Yamaha engine, but from the Honda’s dreaded reliability. Dani Pedrosa has engines to spare, and nothing to lose by using them. Sound analysis of Honda’s RC213V at recent races, undertaken by educated fans, is showing an increase in the maximum revs the engine is using.

Pedrosa appears to have been given an extra couple of hundred revs to play with, meaning that he has a little more horsepower at his disposal. This would fit with the step forward which Pedrosa has made in recent races, winning 5 of the last 6 Grand Prix. That performance step was clearest at Aragon, Motegi and Sepang, where Pedrosa controlled the race utterly, following Lorenzo until it was time to get past, and then opening up a gap to the Yamaha man almost at will.

There is no doubt that Dani Pedrosa is riding better than he ever has, but one possible factor in that improvement is the confidence of knowing he has a little more in the tank if he needs it.

The question of whether the engine which Lorenzo lost at Assen could end up losing him the championship is thus a little more complex than it at first seems. Lorenzo being forced to start from pit lane after taking a 7th engine now seems vanishingly unlikely. But the crash may have ended up handing Pedrosa a small but significant advantage in their battle. Lorenzo may not lose an engine, but he cannot afford to lose his concentration: one slip and the title could be gone.

Below are the engine usage charts for both Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. The table shows a list of engines, with the number of sessions each engine has been used in, the number of races each engine has been used for, the status of the engine (active – currently in use, withdrawn – unavailable for use due to engine damage, shelved – available for use, but left unused for multiple races), the total Grand Prix at which the engine has been used, and a list of which Grand Prix the engine was used at.

Jorge Lorenzo’s Engine Usage

EngineSessionsRacesStatusTotal eventsEvents used
#4113Active5ITA, USA, IND, CZE, JPN
#583Active3CZE, RSM, JPN
#692Active2ARA, MAL


Dani Pedrosa’s Engine Usage

EngineSessionsRacesStatusTotal eventsEvents used
#1355Shelved7QAT, SPA, POR, FRA, CAT, GBR, NED
#2352Shelved9QAT, SPA, POR, FRA, CAT, GBR, NED, GER, ITA
#3132Shelved3GER, ITA, USA
#4275Shelved5USA, IND, CZE, RSM, ARA
#5170Active7USA, IND, CZE, RSM, ARA, JPN, MAL
#6112Active3ARA, JPN, MAL

Source: MotoGP; 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. Dr. Gellar says:

    The 6 Engine Rule…one of the many recent stupid MotoGP rules that have helped to ruin this series.

  2. Jason says:

    It looks like Yamaha should have built a reputation for reliability, too, with all those sessions on engines that have not gone BOOM yet…

  3. Calisdad says:

    Jorge could clinch the title simply by winning the next race, no?

    If not and he finishes 2nd AND starts from pit row on the last race he simply needs to finish 8th. Not too hard for a guy who hasn’t finished lower than 2nd all year except once when he was taken out.

  4. “The 6 Engine Rule…one of the many recent stupid MotoGP rules that have helped to ruin this series.”

    I don’t mind it. The juggling of engines/gearboxes is something that, to me, just adds unpredictability to the championship. The ability of Lorenzo’s team to manage the deficit is intriguing in and of itself.

    “It looks like Yamaha should have built a reputation for reliability, too, with all those sessions on engines that have not gone BOOM yet…”

    Absolutely. It astounds me to think that WSBK use nearly 40 engines over a season. Being able to go through an entire season on just 6 engines is a significant technological feat. Hats off to the manufacturers for that one.

  5. TexusTim says:

    can they go thru the engines and replace bearings,rings and such ?

  6. No, that would defeat the purpose of the rule. The engines are sealed.