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.

Jerez MotoGP Test – Saturday Round Up

03/24/2013 @ 1:29 am, by David Emmett1 COMMENT

Jerez MotoGP Test   Saturday Round Up valentino rossi yamaha motogp jerez test 635x423

It rained today in Jerez. Boy did it rain. The heavens were open for much of the day, with the intensity of the rain varying between a light drizzle and an absolute deluge, sending people scurrying for cover when the skies darkened too much.

A few brave souls ventured out to put in laps, but they did not last very long in the conditions. Until around 3pm, that is, when the rain let up, at least for an hour or so, and everyone took to the track. For two hours, testing was at full tilt, before the rain returned to chase most of the MotoGP men back into the pits.

Though having that much rain is hardly what the riders ordered, it still has its advantages. “It’s good to be able to test on a fully wet track,” Wilco Zeelenberg said after testing. “Normally, it’s that half-wet, half-dry stuff, which is hopeless.” Real work could be done on a wet set up, and lessons learned for 2013.

One of those lessons proved to be that the rain tires Bridgestone brought to Jerez are not as hardy as they may need to be. “The performance drops a lot after six, seven laps,” Valentino Rossi told the press, explaining that the center of the tire wears very quickly.

He was not the only one to complain: all of the factory riders, along with Cal Crutchlow, complained of the same thing. They had all destroyed two sets of rain tires in just a couple of hours, and with just four sets of rain tires to last the three days, they would not be able to manage if it rains on all three days.

The reason the tires are being destroyed is fairly simple: the asphalt at Jerez is extremely abrasive, and provides an awful lot of grip even in the wet – the fact thatJorge Lorenzo’s fastest time on a fully wet track was just 8 seconds off the dry race lap record speaks volumes of how much grip there is in the wet.

Combine that with the fact that the extra horsepower provided by the 1000cc MotoGP machines means they require a different riding style, standing the bike up much earlier to get the bike onto the fat part of the tire and using the extra acceleration of the bike.

In the wet, the extra power and the stand-it-up-early riding style is shredding the rear quickly, especially on the abrasive Jerez circuit. At greasy tracks like Le Mans or Sepang, that won’t be so much of a problem.

Speaking of standing it up, I spent some time at the hairpin, before the front straight, watching the riders during the busiest part of the day. I had gone specifically to watch Marc Marquez, having heard reports from people in Sepang of his extraordinary riding style. There, it was the fact that the young Spanish prodigy was starting to tip the bike in while his rear wheel was still in the air, something that was impossible in the wet conditions at Jerez.

At Jerez, what makes him special was visible on corner exit: it was clear that Marquez was getting on the gas earlier than any of the other riders, standing the bike up early to grab as much drive as possible.

But how he did that was remarkable: accelerating hard shortly after the apex, he seemed to be using the tendency of the bike to fling itself outward to help get the bike upright, before catching it and giving it even more throttle, accelerating even harder before getting completely upright and firing off down the straight.

It looked eerily similar to catching a highside, using the centripetal force of the bike to help get it stood up, done twice in short succession on the exit of the corner.

LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl was using a similar style, but where Bradl seemed to be using a lot of physical effort to get the bike upright, Marquez looked to be letting the bike do all the work. It is a risky strategy, because if the bike does too much work, then Marquez could easily find himself on a flyby of the International Space Station, but it is similar to the method he used in Moto2, where he won by exiting corners faster.

It is also reminiscent of the man he replaced, Casey Stoner. Stoner’s style looked ragged and aggressive, but it was only the bike that moved around when Stoner rode it, the Australian himself sat perched smoothly and calmly aboard the bike. Marquez is much the same: he looks wild, spectacular, but look just at his body, and he is in total control, not expending much effort at all.

I also had time to watch Valentino Rossi at the hairpin, and good place to watch riders under braking and getting the bike to turn. It was a totally different prospect to the man I watched on the Ducati, exuding confidence, pleasure, looking totally at ease on the bike.

Rossi’s problem is that he is still two seconds behind his teammate, and a second behind the two Repsol Hondas, but it is hard to compare times precisely. Though Rossi was effusive in his praise of his teammate, pointing out that a 1’47 lap in conditions like that is an extraordinary feat, but he also said that timing of laps was crucial.

Going out with a new tire at just the right time, when the standing water and rivulets crossing the track had disappeared, was key to turning a fast lap, and Rossi had not got that combination right. It is not something you can plan for, with only four sets of rain tires, and wasting a set of tires just to chase a fast lap was not worth it.

He had also had a recurrence of the electrical problem he had suffered in Sepang. Rossi fans had feared that the Italian had inherited the bad juju which had plagued Ben Spies when he was in the garage next to Jorge Lorenzo, after a series of niggles had halted progress in Sepang.

But Rossi told reporters that his problems were down to a single part, rather than the multiple problems Spies seemed to suffer. Rossi’s problem kept on rearing its ugly head, and neither Yamaha nor his crew had found a solution to it just yet. The problem being down to just a single part is hopeful, meaning that it should at least be something which can be fixed.

Rossi was also full of praise for both Michele Pirro and Andrea Iannone. Pirro’s fast time was to be expected, he said, given the number of laps Pirro had done and the tires he appeared to be using. But Iannone being so fast – the Pramac Ducati man ended the day in 4th, ahead of both Pirro and Rossi himself, and half a second off the time of Pedrosa – that was something impressive, Rossi said.

Cal Crutchlow had a lot to say after the first day of testing, though not much of it had to do with the testing itself. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man made no secret of his disappointment at the gap between his bike and the factory Yamahas, and Yamaha’s chosen strategy of having clearly different levels of development between the satellite and factory machines.

At Honda, the approach is different: all four bikes start the season in almost identical trim, the factory machines getting upgrades first, with satellite bikes following a few races later. That was not the case at Yamaha, Crutchlow said. “My bike is basically the same bike which Lorenzo started last season on,” he said, adding that they were a year or more behind the factory team.

The bikes of Bradl and Alvaro Bautista were identical to the Repsol bikes, Crutchlow said, joking that even Bautista’s suspension was the same. The Gresini team are using Showa, rather than Ohlins suspension, but Bautista’s bike was using “Ohlins painted black” Crutchlow quipped.

The Tech 3 man accepted that this was what he had to fight the season with, but said he was disappointed in the lack of support from Yamaha. “If I’m even half competitive with what I’ve got, if they give me something else I could be even more competitive,” he said, but he wouldn’t bother asking for updates. “Yamaha have a clear policy, a factory team is a factory team, and a satellite team is a satellite team.”

This lack of support, in Crutchlow’s eyes, could have consequences. If Yamaha needed help to fend off the challenges from Marquez and Pedrosa, Crutchlow was not inclined to be supportive. “I have no interest in helping anyone,” Crutchlow said. “Why should I? I’m not contracted to Yamaha.”

Crutchlow had signed to return at Tech 3 for this season on the tacit understanding that he would get more support. That has not been forthcoming, in his opinion, and so the Englishman is likely to leap at the first chance of a factory ride that he gets. With the Yamaha and the Honda seats full, that will have to be elsewhere. Though it is very, very early days, it appears that Crutchlow’s time with Yamaha will not extend much beyond this season.

Testing continues at Jerez on Sunday, and the concerns over the lack of rain tires look set to be unfounded. Right now, some time after 1am on Saturday night local time, the skies are clear and the stars are out. Rain could fall in the morning, but it will be only a smattering, not a full-on downpour. Sunday could finally see some dry track time for the MotoGP men. The times set in the wet today may have been interesting, but they are hardly a reflection of the real standing in the paddock. Tomorrow, we should know more.

Photo: Yamaha Racing

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

Comment:

  1. “At Jerez, what makes him special was visible on corner exit: it was clear that Marquez was getting on the gas earlier than any of the other riders, standing the bike up early to grab as much drive as possible.”

    I really hope he manages to stay away from costly errors that take himself (and others) out of the race. If he can do that, he’ll very quickly become my favourite rider. In fact, after his two, from-last-to-first races last season in Moto2, he may already be that.

    “But Iannone being so fast – the Pramac Ducati man ended the day in 4th, ahead of both Pirro and Rossi himself, and half a second off the time of Pedrosa – that was something impressive, Rossi said.”

    And this is the other interesting question this season: Will Maniac Joe develop a winning relationship with the Ducati or was his excellent result similar to Rossi’s own good finishes with the Ducati in the wet over the last couple of seasons? Only time will tell, but Iannone is another rider who I really enjoy watching. If he’s a got the bike under him that’ll let him mix it up at the front, he could really dismay championship leaders.