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.

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.

Preview of Le Mans: Can Lorenzo Get Back the Momentum?

05/16/2013 @ 3:56 pm, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

Preview of Le Mans: Can Lorenzo Get Back the Momentum? Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Racing Austin Jensen Beeler 635x423

Three races into the 2013 MotoGP season, and the Yamaha Factory Racing team have been forced to tear up the script they had written for themselves after pre-season testing. Their original goals were for Jorge Lorenzo to win as often as possible in the early part of the season, building a lead at the tracks at which Yamaha is supposed to be strong, then defend that lead in the second half of the year. Valentino Rossi, meanwhile, was to finish adapting to the Yamaha once again, and get on the podium ahead of the Hondas as much as possible, to help build out Lorenzo’s lead in the championship.

The plan worked perfectly at Qatar. Lorenzo was untouchable in the race, and won easily. Rossi showed he still had it by getting on the podium and taking second, while the first Honda was Marc Marquez in third. This worked out even better than expected, as although Marquez is clearly an exceptional talent, the real title threat, Yamaha believed, would come from Dani Pedrosa.

Race two, at Austin in Texas, went a little better and a little worse than anticipated. That Marquez would win there had been expected, after all, the Repsol Honda rookie had been quickest at the test. But Marquez’s advantage over Lorenzo – and especially the gap from Pedrosa to Lorenzo – was much smaller than they had feared, putting Lorenzo within striking distance of the Repsol Hondas.

For Valentino Rossi, on the other hand, things did not go so well, the Italian never feeling comfortable on the bike, and finishing behind two satellite riders, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow and the LCR Honda of Stefan Bradl.

Race three is where the plan started going horribly wrong. The Yamaha men arrived in Jerez supremely confident, after having dominated pre-season testing there. Jerez was the start of a run of Yamaha tracks, where Lorenzo and Rossi – and maybe even Cal Crutchlow – would really start to shine, and put some clear blue water between themselves and the Repsol Hondas.

It did not work out that way: the Yamahas struggled against the mighty Hondas, and Dani Pedrosa took a very easy victory. Adding insult to injury, Marc Marquez bumped Jorge Lorenzo out of second place, robbing the Yamaha man of the lead in the championship, and putting both Repsol Hondas ahead.

And now MotoGP heads to Le Mans, yet another track that is supposed to favor the Yamahas. Given Jorge Lorenzo’s utterly dominant win in the soaking rain at the French circuit in 2012, it is easy to think that the Yamahas should have an easy time of it here. The danger is that riders, teams, and fans follow the comfortable assumption that Le Mans is a Yamaha track, disregarding recent history there.

It is true that Yamaha riders have won four of the last five races at the track, with Valentino Rossi taking one win and Jorge Lorenzo taking three victories at the track. But the idea that Yamaha dominates at Le Mans seems to stem from further back in history then many people think.

In 2008, Yamaha took a clean sweep of the podium, with Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo taking the top two spots, and Colin Edwards, riding for the satellite Tech 3 team at the time, securing third. In 2010, they managed a one-two, with Lorenzo winning ahead of Rossi. But that one-two finish in 2010 and Lorenzo’s 2012 win are Yamaha’s total podium haul from the last three years.

Though they have only had one win at the circuit – Casey Stoner’s 2011 victory was even more convincing than Lorenzo’s in 2012 – Honda have had four podiums in the last three years, one more than that of Yamaha, while Ducati has been on the podium twice.

Those Ducati finishes are more reflective of the reality of Le Mans than the simple anointing of the French circuit as a ‘Yamaha track’. For those two Ducati podiums in fact belong to Valentino Rossi, and were two of the lowly three rostrum finishes he secured during his dismal two-year spell at the Italian factory.

It is not that the Yamaha is strong at Le Mans, it is very much a track at which riders can excel, rather than suiting a particular machine.

Valentino Rossi has been on the podium four times in the past five years; Jorge Lorenzo has been on the podium four times in the past five years; but Dani Pedrosa has only had a single podium at the circuit in all his time in MotoGP, a third place back in 2008.

Of course, the real star at the Le Mans circuit is the weather. The only thing that can be relied upon at the track is that at some point during the weekend, it will rain, and probably quite heavily. And probably not just once: the fact that Chris Vermeulen’s only victory in MotoGP came at the Le Mans circuit speaks volumes about the weather there.

The location of the track – halfway between Paris and the Atlantic coast, set in soft, undulating hills – means that it is right in the tail end of the spring storms that tend to roll in from the ocean, bringing wind, rain, and an arctic chill to the circuit. The wind, though, is good, as it means that the rain is blown out again just as quickly as it came in.

This year looks to be no exception, with some rain expected on every day of the race weekend, the big question being exactly when it will be wet and when it will be dry. The forecast at the moment – though by the time you read this, it may have changed once again – is for there to be a mixture of wet and dry sessions, with the mornings looking the most promising.

The race, meanwhile, looks set to take place on a damp, but not wet, track, making it the worst of all possible surfaces.

Who does that favor? Not Yamaha or Honda, or even Ducati or one of the CRT teams, the weather at Le Mans looks set to favor the team and rider who can get close to a usable set up as quickly as possible.

That, you would have to say, favors Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, as the two men with both the most experience with their current bikes and the closest thing to a set up that works out of the box, as their victories at Qatar and Jerez respectively show.

On paper, Le Mans would appear to suit the Honda slightly better, as the track has so many tight corners followed by short straights, but Pedrosa’s mediocre record at the circuit must surely weigh against him.

That does not mean this race is Lorenzo’s to lose, however. If Valentino Rossi and his team finally solve the issues they have been having with braking, the Italian could be very close to the front, given his record at Le Mans. Likewise, if Marc Marquez and his crew get a base set up early on, it is easy to imagine his meteoric rise to the front of the MotoGP pack will continue. Given how quickly Marquez learns, and the depth of experience supporting him, it would not be safe to bet against him.

Then there’s the satellite riders. While Bradley Smith continues to adapt to riding a MotoGP bike – a time-consuming business, unless your name happens to rhyme with ‘Arquez’ – his teammate Cal Crutchlow will once again be chasing glory.

Crutchlow is balancing on the verge of leaving ‘best of the rest’ behind him, and challenging to belong to the ‘best of the best’. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man’s record at Le Mans is not good, having crashed out in his first year and run off the track in his second, but his main focus so far has been to stop making so many mistakes. If Crutchlow can put together a perfect race, then he might just make the breakthrough he has been waiting for.

The satellite Hondas are in a similar position to Crutchlow, with Stefan Bradl finding himself most under pressure at the moment. The LCR Honda man had a great race last year, finishing in fifth just ahead of Nicky Hayden and not far behind Dani Pedrosa.

So far in 2013, Bradl has failed to live up to expectation, and though were are only three races in, he will have to start delivering soon if HRC is not to start losing faith in the young German. Alvaro Bautista, meanwhile, must continue his lonely work on the Showa suspension, and hope that the recent improvements found will carry over to Le Mans.

And then there are the Ducatis. Le Mans is a track at which Andrea Dovizioso has always shone, scoring podiums here in both 2010 and 2011. The layout of the track helps, too, with shorter, slower corners meaning that the bike does not suffer lose too much time with the understeer which continues to plague it.

Both Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden will regret not having the updates developed on the ‘lab’ bike being tested by Michele Pirro, though, as the improvements which that design offers are mainly in corner entry, a key factor in riding the Bugatti short circuit layout at Le Mans.

But in difficult conditions, which look likely in France, the Ducatis are always quick, finding the limit made much easier when the conditions bring the limit in from beyond the very edge of performance.

Michele Pirro will also be at Le Mans, making a return after his wildcard ride at Jerez. This time, however, he will not be riding Ducati’s lab bike, but racing aboard Ben Spies’ Ignite Pramac machine, the ‘standard’ Desmosedici which Spies raced in the first two races of the season.

Those races aggravated muscles and tendons in the Texan’s chest, as he attempted to compensate for the weakness in his shoulder from surgery at the end of last year, and is the reason Spies is not present at Le Mans.

The other side of the Pramac garage is not in much better shape, with Andrea Iannone only recently recovered from surgery on his arms for arm pump, and his knee to close up a nasty gash he suffered in a crash.

Whatever the weather at Le Mans, the French Grand Prix is the race where Jorge Lorenzo needs to get his title defense back on track. His task has not been made easy, with the strength of the Hondas and the advent of Marc Marquez, but in France, Lorenzo needs to make a stand. Momentum – the great virtue of Yamaha’s MotoGP bike – is swinging away from him. Time to turn it around.

Photo: © 2013 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – Creative Commons – Attribution 3.0

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

Comment:

  1. L2C says:

    Think I might watch Le Mans starring Paul Newman and, well, Le Mans. It’s not necessary to get me in the mood for the drama that could unfold this coming Sunday, but why not? It’s a good movie with a great soundtrack. Plus, Porsche. Four wheels ain’t all bad.

  2. L2C says:

    Ha ha! Yes. Doh! I absolutely meant Steve McQueen. Maybe I had Cool Hand Luke on the brain at the same time as Le Mans. Funny.

  3. Damo says:

    Jensen, great write up.

    @L2c

    Mistaking Steve McQueen for Paul Newman is inexcusable.

  4. JW says:

    Lorenzo, needs a life coach and a good PR agent. He must stop bitching about the love tap (reality warning) from MM. The longer he hangs on to this the greater advantage it will give others to use against him. You can see it all over his countenence.

  5. TexusTim says:

    I think lorenzo is more than a bit ruffled by marquez…the kids got his number !

  6. GT says:

    We all have to take a step back and think ” What would Casey Stoner do? “

  7. Damo says:

    I think Marquez is getting into Lorenzo’s head, much like the old Rossi/Gibernau routine.

  8. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    Marquez is way past “getting into” Lorenzo’s head. He’s in there, rearranged the furniture and raised the rent.

    Marquez is in Pedrosa’s head, he’s in Rossi’s head, he’s in every race marshals head, every journalist’s head, etc…

  9. TexusTim says:

    did I mentionI had MM on the back of my moto taxi bike saturady at cota turn 19…one more time …lol

  10. L2C says:

    @ TexusTim

    Pic or it didn’t happen. ;-)

  11. L2C says:

    @ Geokan

    By the way, great poster!