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.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common. The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale. With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question. Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster.

Photos of the Mugen Shinden Ni sans Fairings

Given the competitive nature of the electric racing realm, its rare to see the big high-power bikes without their fairings, as teams are reluctant to reveal their secret sauce. Debuting the Mugen Shinden San this past weekend in Tokyo though, Team Mugen did just that, giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of the team’s 2013 race bike, the Mugen Shinden Ni. You don’t have to be an electron-head to get excited by these photos, as any race bike with a carbon fiber frame and swingarm is pretty drool-worthy, though the Shinden Ni’s carbon fiber battery enclosure does hide a great deal of the electric superbike’s geek factor. While the sheer size of the battery bike is impressive, it was expected when the Shinden was first announced.

Mugen Shinden San (神電 参) Electric Superbike Revealed

Mugen’s third purpose-built electric superbike for the Isle of Man TT, the Mugen Shinden San, has been revealed in Japan. Campaigning two machines for this year’s TT Zero race, Mugen has John McGuiness and Bruce Anstey at the helm of its “Shinden San” bikes, as the duo looks for a one-two finish in this year’s race. With MotoCzysz not racing at the Isle of Man this year, Mugen is a hot favorite to take the top podium spots, as well as crack the 110 mph barrier for electrics on the historic Snaefell Mountain Course (Mugen is targeting a 115 mph lap). An evolution on the company’s previous designs, the Shinden San fits 134hp — 10hp more than last year, thanks to a new smaller three-phase brushless motor provided by Mission Motors — into its 529lbs bulk.

Trackside Tuesday: The Winning Personality of Jack Miller

Chatting with a couple of NASCAR fans recently, I was reminded that any competition is boring if you don’t care who wins. But if you do care, then even cars driving around in circles can be very compelling entertainment. Those NASCAR fans really cared about how their favorite drivers finished, and not only how they finished in the latest race, but what and how those drivers were doing off the track as well. Those fans had been captured by the personalities of those drivers. One of the things NASCAR does well is sell personalities. All major sports-related businesses do this to some extent, but some organizations do it better than others.

Living the Dream – A Photographer’s Story: Qatar

Imagine if just for once you didn’t have to stick to your usual nine-to-five job. Instead you were able to do the one job you’ve always wanted to do, but any number of things (it’s usually money) have stood in the way. This is exactly the situation I found myself in six months ago when the company I had worked at, for the last 14 years, decided to close, making everyone redundant. This decision did not come as a surprise; in fact, I had been hanging around for the last few years hoping that it would happen, as I had a plan. Fast-forward six months and I have just finished photographing the opening round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar. The plan is starting to unfold.

Preview of Brno: Looking Forward & Looking Back

08/22/2013 @ 7:13 pm, by David Emmett10 COMMENTS

Preview of Brno: Looking Forward & Looking Back marc marquez awesome mugello motogp scott jones 635x423

One race down, two more to go in the first of MotoGP’s two triple-headers in 2013, and this is the most brutal transition. After a draining race in the humidity of the Midwest, the teams and riders pack up, head east and face a wall of jet lag before getting ready to race at Brno, one of the most physically demanding circuits on the calendar.

After that, they get to pack up again and head back west, just a short hop this time to the UK, its one-hour time difference from Brno small enough not to cause jet lag, but just enough to throw your body clock just out of kilter.

Whether Brno will produce the same flashes of excitement, which Indianapolis did, remains to be seen. At Indy, the riders encountered what they described as the best surface they’d ever seen at the track – relative, of course, to previous visits – and that helped in some small way to spice the racing up a little.

In previous years, getting off line meant running the risk of serious injury, the drop in grip levels meaning riders found themselves in low earth orbit. Getting off line in 2013 was still a risky pursuit, but if you did it in the right place, you could get away with it, and even use it to your advantage.

Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez had the trick down to a tee. Marquez’s passes on both Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa were carbon copies of each other, though done in different places.

Running wide round the outside of a left-hander, before diving up the inside on the right hander. Rossi’s passes on Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista were similar, and the way he dispatched Cal Crutchlow was surgical.

Perhaps most worrying for his rivals was the ease with which Marquez controlled the race. After losing out off the line, Marquez settled in behind Lorenzo and Pedrosa, bided his time while the fuel burned off from his empty tank, then circled in for the kill.

He disposed of his two main title rivals – remarkably, we must now call double MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo, and multiple times championship runner-up Dani Pedrosa ‘title challengers’, rather than title favorites – with apparent ease, then put his head down and dropped them.

Marquez went on to win, adding to his already formidable record total: he matched Kenny Roberts record of four premier class wins in a rookie season. He also matched Roberts’ record of three wins in a row in his rookie season. He became the first rider to win three races in a year in the US, joining Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner as riders who had won three races in the same country.

He scored his ninth podium finish of the season – the only time he missed out on a podium was at Mugello, when he crashed out – leaving him one short of Valentino Rossi’s record of ten podiums in his first year in the premier class. And he achieved all this after just ten races, just over halfway through his first year in MotoGP.

He has eight more to try to make those records his own, and add a few more. On his form so far this year, it would be a very foolish gambler who would lay odds against him.

It is true that he has had a little help from his rivals. Both Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo have managed to take themselves out of the equation by breaking collarbones, with both men missing the Sachsenring round.

But perhaps one of the reasons the two Spaniards have ended up hurting themselves is the added pressure of having a youngster come in and match them for pace. Marquez has forced both his Repsol Honda teammate and the Factory Yamaha to up their pace, and it was already at an incredibly high level just dealing with each other.

Can Marquez do it again at Brno? He could, but it certainly won’t be as easy as it was at Indianapolis. Several factors increase the scale of the challenge he faces.

First and foremost, the circuit: where Indianapolis played very much to the strengths of the Honda, with lots of tight corners and hard acceleration zones, Brno consists of a collection of wide, fast, sweeping combinations, giving the Yamahas to make optimum use of their corner speed, and their ability to turn.

That ability was displayed in all its glory last year, in the breathtaking last lap between Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo, the Yamaha man held his M1 on an impossibly tight line to take the lead through the stadium section, leaving Pedrosa no choice but to surrender his spot. With so many fast changes of direction and long sweeping corners, the Yamaha can push its advantage to the maximum.

But the Yamahas won’t have it all their own way: the track also has a couple of second gear corners, but most of all, it has Horsepower Hill, the power-sapping climb up what looks from below like a mountain road, through the first fast chicane before it crests just as the riders enter the final chicane and head back across the finish line.

It was here that Pedrosa finally took victory, exploiting the strength of the Honda up the hill to get into the final chicane just ahead of Lorenzo, retaking the lead and setting off what would be a string of victories in the second half of the season.

Though Yamaha has improved their acceleration between this year and last, they are still behind the fabulous RC213V. It is more than just pure horsepower, though. At Indy, Cal Crutchlow explained, he and his team had elected to run the highest horsepower engine map available.

Crutchlow had more power on tap than either Lorenzo or Rossi, yet he was still out-accelerated by the Factory Yamahas. They, in turn were being left for dead out of Indy’s final corner and along the back straight, the Hondas having more mechanical grip, and aided by the extra smoothness of the seamless gearbox.

Yamaha also has a seamless gearbox, but it is still not ready to use. In the press conference at Brno, Rossi and Lorenzo were asked if they needed the seamless gearbox in order to challenge the Hondas. Jorge Lorenzo was cautious not to criticize, while still making his preference clear. “I hope we don’t need it,” he answered, “because we don’t have it.”

Valentino Rossi was much more forthright in his views: “I think the seamless is very important for try to be faster. I also think it is not enough. We have to continue to work on the bike because we have some other problems compared to the Hondas at this moment which give us more difficulties to keep their pace.”

Cal Crutchlow dissected Yamaha’s problems as he sees them. The Honda not only has more acceleration, but it makes its power more reliably. “It amazes me how bulletproof Honda’s engines are,” he said. The Yamaha situation – all four men have only one unopened engine left, while Honda has only just started using the third of their allocation of five – gives pause for thought.

If Yamaha’s engines were blowing the Honda away with horsepower, their engine situation would be more understandable. But HRC’s legendary engineering ability – my words, not those of Crutchlow, I hasten to add – meant they are able to both produce an engine that is both massively powerful and massively reliable.

Going by the almost mythical status of both their finish and reliability – though don’t mention regulator/rectifiers to a Honda owner – it should hardly be surprising that Honda’s MotoGP engines are both tough and massively powerful.

Honda have also improved their braking, Crutchlow said. They can generate the same braking force in a shorter distance, offering another advantage in a straight fight. Their great weakness remained their turning, however. “They can’t turn quick enough,” Crutchlow said at Brno.

All in all, it left Lorenzo facing an uphill challenge, according to the Englishman. “It’s more difficult for Lorenzo to win the title with Yamaha than with Honda,” he said. But that didn’t mean he was out of the title hunt altogether. Lorenzo’s secret, and his strength, lay in where he finished when things were not going his way. “Lorenzo’s bad days are better than the other riders on a bad day,” Crutchlow said.

Lorenzo has had a couple of bad days recently. The Spaniard has broken his collarbone twice, and had it fixed twice. He isn’t alone: Dani Pedrosa also broke his collarbone at the Sachsenring, though he raced once again at Laguna Seca a week later. Both men are recovering well, regaining bike fitness as their injuries heal.

Jorge Lorenzo is virtually pain free, but is suffering from a lack of training, having been unable to follow his punishing fitness regime for the best part of two months. Dani Pedrosa took a slightly different approach, focusing solely on rest. Pedrosa had a couple of painful days after Indianapolis, he said, but had felt much better on Wednesday and Thursday.

The most important thing was that the muscles were getting a workout again from being on the bike, those muscles being impossible to train properly off the bike. His muscles were loosening up and growing stronger, Pedrosa said. Will their injuries trouble Pedrosa and Lorenzo? On the evidence of Indianapolis, it seems rather unlikely.

Both Pedrosa and Marquez were sure that Yamaha would gain from the test they had at the circuit here a couple of weeks ago. Valentino Rossi was equally sure it would make no difference. During the test, they had mainly been focusing on the seamless transmission, not working on bike set up, Rossi explained. Most of all, it was a very different track they were coming to, Rossi said. “The condition of the track is very different. The temperature is 15° less now,” he said.

Whatever the weather, Marquez remains the man to beat. Last year, the Spaniard had a thrilling battle with Thom Luthi all the way to the line in Moto2. That year, Pedrosa and Lorenzo duked it out to the final corner as well.

Add Marquez to the thrills of 2013, and it could well turn out to be quite the race. Brno is one of the greatest circuits on the MotoGP calendar, and a great race is absolutely what it deserves.

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

Photo: © 2013 Scott Jones / Scott Jones Photography – All Rights Reserved

Comment:

  1. tyler says:

    Man,

    Pop-up Ads? Sigh. They better be paying you a sh*%load. I can’t stand more than one of those per web session either, I suppose we’re guinea pigs.

    If this is the trend, we won’t be able to browse any website on the net without pop-ups.

    Thank you very much YouTube for laying that path?

  2. There should be zero pop-up ads on A&R. Please send me a screenshot of the offender so I can go yell at someone.

  3. Mr.X says:

    I did not see a popup…

  4. tyler says:

    Will do if it happens again.. which it hasn’t yet.. was a non-skippable 15 sec spot on the home page.

  5. JohnEE says:

    The popup happened on the homepage to me also a day or two ago. If it happens again i’ll grab a screenshot.

  6. Norm G. says:

    re: “After a draining race in the humidity of the Midwest”

    humidity…? they don’t know from humidity…!?!? LOL

    re: “There should be zero pop-up ads on A&R”

    I have quite a few pop-ups over prolly the past month. always the same. Optima Red-Top battery commercial.

  7. Norm G. says:

    re: “Cal Crutchlow dissected Yamaha’s problems as he sees them. The Honda not only has more acceleration, but it makes its power more reliably. “It amazes me how bulletproof Honda’s engines are,”

    don’t be “crutchers”. you’re simply not familiar with the differences between the crossplane you’re riding…? and Honda’s 90V. the engine limits hurt yam the most since BIG BLUE is surely having to trade off some grunt for longevity. no free lunch.

  8. Doctor Jelly says:

    The popups are few are far between, but I get one every couple of weeks for the past few months I think it’s been. It’s a near full screen video ad for Optima batteries that can be closed after waiting 5 seconds I think it is. I know it had been complained about previously in a comments section some time back…

  9. Judge says:

    Jensen I got your screen shot, but don’t know how to submit it. These started again for me this week, last time was a couple months ago. Like others have said – it’s ALWAYS Optima Batteries.

  10. Thanks guys. I tracked down what’s going on…our third-party ad provider has actually done this before to us, and it’s not something we agreed to with them.

    It should be gone in a few hours, and we’re looking into our options of dropping their ad hosting services completely.

    This whole thing is completely unacceptable to me.