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.

Moto2 & Moto3 2013 Jerez Test Preview

03/18/2013 @ 1:05 pm, by David Emmett1 COMMENT

Moto2 & Moto3 2013 Jerez Test Preview Pol Espargaro Moto2 Valencia Scott Jones

In three weeks’ time, the 2013 season gets underway for all three Grand Prix classes, and motorcycle racing’s winter will finally be over. Before that, there is a week of testing at Jerez, where first the Moto2 and Moto3 classes get their final run out on the track from Monday through Thursday, before MotoGP takes to the track on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

Testing at Jerez may be affordable for GP’s junior classes, but it does not come without risk. Moto2 and Moto3 tested at both Valencia and Jerez in February, and while conditions were sunny and dry, if a little cool at Valencia, the test at Jerez was very mixed indeed, with rain disrupting two of the three days of testing. This test looks just as likely to be disrupted by rain: while good weather is forecast for Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, Tuesday looks like being a total washout.

That will leave the riders with two full days of dry testing – for some arcane reason, IRTA has decided to spread the three days of Moto2 and Moto3 testing over four days, with the test starting on Monday afternoon, and concluding on Thursday lunchtime.

There is surely method to this madness, but unfortunately, IRTA does not have a press office, and so nobody to explain it. In the absence of an IRTA – the International Roadracing Teams Association, the official body representing the teams – press officer, the media are left to scratch their heads, speculate, and all too often, concoct explanations for themselves.

Despite the opaque organizational aspects, there is still much to be learned from both the Moto2 and Moto3 tests. The departure of Marc Marquez for MotoGP leaves Pol Espargaro looking like a virtual shoe-in for the 2013 Moto2 title, but it may be a fraction premature to be penciling the Spaniard’s name on the trophy. The Tuenti HP 40 rider is clearly fast – and going by the timesheets from the first Jerez test, relatively consistently so – and 2012 showed that he can race well enough, but he will face stiff competition nonetheless.

The new combined weight rule – instead of having a minimum weight for the bike in Moto2, now, bike and rider in full leathers must weigh a minimum of 215kg in total – will even up the playing field a little, and while Espargaro will be affected only slightly (the added weight of the TV cameras should be enough to put him over the legal minimum), it will give heavier riders such as Scott Redding a better chance of competing. Not so much because it closes the gap to Espargaro, but because Redding expects to find far fewer lighter riders between himself and the front after qualifying.

Redding has proven that he, too, can be competitive under the new Moto2 weight regime, but with this test once again at Jerez, there are still questions over some of the other riders. Both Nico Terol and Julian Simon have been fast during testing, but both men have been riding at tracks they know and love. Terol, in particular, is blisteringly fast in Spain, but less so outside of his mother country, leaving observers wondering just how much of his speed at (especially) Valencia and Jerez is real, how much is track preference.

The day of rain expected will not be lost on the Moto2 crowd, as it gives the Kalex riders another chance to test out the wet weather performance of the German Moto2 machine. In 2012, Kalex riders struggled in the wet, while the Suter appeared to perform well in wet, dry and mixed conditions. That situation appears to have improved so far in 2013, with Kalex riders being much faster in the rain-hit sessions at Jerez. But with Jerez being an unusual track – providing much more grip in the wet – what is really needed is some half-wet, half-dry greasy conditions to truly test the improvement.

Of keen interest in Moto3 will be which of the Spanish KTM riders has the upper hands. So far, Maverick Viñales has been quickest during testing, but there has been little to choose between the JHK Laglisse rider, Luis Salom and Axel Rins. Rins, in particular, has impressed, quickly upping the pace in his second season of Moto3, and showing he can be a front runner this year.

While there is a trio of Spaniards at the front – and a trio of KTMs – there could be more intrigue a little further down the field. The Honda engines are down on power compared to the KTMs, though the FTR bikes have traditionally been the better handling of the Moto3 machines.

The FTR Hondas will have company from the Suter Hondas and the Suter-built Mahindras in 2013, though all of them will need more horsepower to compete. That will also make for a more diverse group at the front, with Italians Romano Fenati and Francesco Bagnaia, the Australian Jack Miller, Britons Danny Webb and John McPhee, and the Portuguese rider Miguel Oliveira.

We will know more about the state of play in the classes once the Moto2 and Moto3 men – and woman, with Ana Carrasco so far making a convincing debut in the Moto3 class, though Spanish insiders say that the cause of female riders will be more fully served once Maria Herrera enters the series, probably in 2014 – once the testing ends on Thursday.

The day after, we will know one of the more eagerly anticipated secrets of MotoGP, with Yamaha due to unveil its 2013 livery at Jerez, and then three days of MotoGP testing follows, at which the pecking order set at Sepang will either be confirmed or destroyed. First, though, the support classes strut their stuff. The season is not far away now.

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. Westward says:

    Kalex was on a roll last season, and they seemed to have it together this season as well. If not for Marquez, Kalex would have had a title under their belts last season.

    As I have stated before, if Ducati had used Kalex instead of FTR, their fortunes might have been a little different and more encouraging at seasons end…

    Look for all the rostrum finishers in Moto2 to be Kalex in any random order….

    Kalex has proven their metal so to speak. They have shown their quality…