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.

No MotoGP Rev Limit Until 2014

05/01/2012 @ 3:03 pm, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

No MotoGP Rev Limit Until 2014 Ducati Corse Desmosedici GP12 OLED dash 3

Jerez saw another round in the game of bluff poker being played between Dorna and the manufacturers over the future of MotoGP’s rules, and both sides took another step closer to an agreement. Reports emanating from the discussions suggest that Dorna has made a concession to the MSMA over the rev limits, while the factories are pushing through a single-bike rule, and an agreement should be ready by the middle of the year.

Ever since the MSMA lost their monopoly over the rules at the end of 2011, when the contract between the MSMA and Dorna lapsed, Dorna has had the stronger hand, and Carmelo Ezpeleta has been pushing the factories hard for changes. The pressure is starting to pay off for Ezpeleta, as by a combination of cajoling, threats and promises, he has also reached an agreement over the future shape of the sport. MotoGP is to undergo a radical transformation from the pure technology exercise that was the 800cc era, and become a sport focused on entertainment, where costs are kept in check.

The introduction of a rev limit has now been more or less agreed with the factories, after Ezpeleta agreed to push the limit back for a year. The limit will now be introduced from the 2014 season onwards, rather than from 2013 as Ezpeleta had at first intended. Based on advice received from his technical team, including Dorna technical chief Corrado Cecchinelli and (now) Race Director Mike Webb, Ezpeleta is still pushing for a 14,500rpm limit, but he may be willing to accept a 15,000rpm limit from the OEMs, if the factories are willing to make further far-reaching concessions.

Sources indicate that the factories were willing to accept the rev limit on condition that they got 2 years out of their current engines, having just undergone major spending program for the switch to the 1000cc bikes. The factories also wanted a lead time of 18 months to make the necessary changes to the 1000cc bikes: though the change is much smaller than the switch from 800cc to 1000cc, the engine characteristics will be rather different. With Suzuki currently working on a return to MotoGP with a 1000cc bike slated to be introduced in 2014, bringing in a rev limit then will also make it easier for Suzuki to participate.

More change will come in 2015, when a single ECU is likely to be introduced for the CRT bikes at least, though some people inside Dorna are pushing for an ECU for all the bikes. Discussions are currently underway with Aprilia over the ECU, as the Italian factory is preparing to supply a string of ART bikes based on the RSV4 as production racers, much in the long tradition of Yamaha’s TZ and Suzuki’s RG series.

BMW may be willing to accept this as they will be in a position to use their CRT program to help develop the WSBK program, where the electronics have always been the S1000RR’s weakest point. A spec ECU for all of the MotoGP bikes, including the prototypes, is still under consideration, but at the moment, this would be a bridge too far for the factories. The hope is that a much lower revving engine which is much easier to manage without electronics will persuade the factories that limits on the electronics are a sensible option.

There will still be some changes from 2013, though these proposals have been put forward by the factories. In response to Dorna’s request for a €1 million lease price for a prototype machine, the factories have suggested that the way to make this possible is to switch to a single bike per rider. The cost of supplying spares and support for a single bike instead of two per rider is sufficiently reduced that the factories feel their losses will be sufficiently limited that they can afford to supply satellite teams at a cost of a million euros per rider. This is unlikely to lead to a defection of CRT teams, however, as a rule specifying that each factory will supply bikes for just two factory and two satellite riders is also likely to be adopted. With Honda, Yamaha, and Ducati the only factories currently supplying prototypes, and no new factories likely to join next year, that will leave 12 factory prototypes on the grid.

With Moto2 favorite Marc Marquez looking set to switch to MotoGP in 2013, there have been question marks over the continuation of the so-called Rookie Rule, which prevents a MotoGP rookie from going straight to a factory team. However, there is huge pressure from within IRTA to keep it in place, with IRTA President and Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal telling us at Jerez that he was committed to keeping it as it is.

“This rule has been good for the private teams, and we really want to keep it,” he said. “It has also been good for the riders; they can go to a private team and learn to race in MotoGP without too much pressure, it is a better situation for them. If Honda wants to support Marquez, they could do it perfectly well at Gresini or LCR.” The only complication in this argument is the power of Repsol: if the Spanish oil giant threatened to pull out at the end of this year over the Rookie Rule, Dorna’s stance on the matter could be compromised. But so far, Poncharal has said that Ezpeleta has no intention of changing the rules.

While a rev limit will surely create bikes which are significantly less peaky and much easier to ride, the one additional change needed to reduce the reliance on electronics would be the addition of more fuel. So far, the factories have been opposed to raising the fuel limits, but if an engine redesign is going to be needed to cope with the imposition of rev limits in 2014, then that would also be the ideal moment to raise the fuel limits. Even with 24 liters of gas, the Aprilia CRT bikes are struggling to reach their target, and so more fuel would also bring more relief for the claiming rule teams.

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. Cpt.Slow says:


  2. Westward says:

    Speaking of Repsol, I wonder if Argentina’s move to nationalize the oil fields will affect their support for MotoGP, as they stand to lose nearly one-fifth of their oil valuation…

    MotoGP should keep the rookie rule. It should benefit them in the learning curve.

    NOTE to J. BEELER:

    I was watching the Moto3 race and noticed when Olivera went off track he tried to return to racing, but the marshalls dragged his bike off track with him pleading for them to let him race…

    Any incite as to why …?

    He could have still scored in the points…

  3. Halfie 30 says:

    @ Westward. There are certain rules that that automatically count bikes as crash outs. Such as hitting the wall (even grazing it), certain pieces being broken, etc… Perhaps something happened to the bike we didn’t see?

  4. Westward says:

    Olivera was sitting on the bike, waiting for what looked to me like, a push from the marshals. I thought, as I am sure he thought, they were simply going to turn the bike around. Only they began carrying it off the track, with Olivera pleading to put it back on the track…

    The bike looked and seemed fine, and apparently he righted the bike himself and mounted it.

    I think it would be interesting to know why they did not allow him to continue. I have searched the web for info and have yet found none…

  5. Grant Madden says:

    I did wonder what was going on.Are marshals allowed to push start bikes?I dont know but I did notice a few problems with marshalling.Like no blue flags shown when they should have been.Its hard to get good help these days I know but that seemed like a major safety issue.I marshal at our local track and we have a good crew who are familiar with how meetings run and how marshals need to behave but when we do the NZGP meeting often we have an influx of volenteers who are willing but not really that onto it with procedures.Sometimes they have helped at car racing but thats a different world.I was watching the marshals and they didnt seem all that willing to help the rider.Might have to watch that again to try and figure out why they wouldn,t.I know that when I used to race the marshals were usually very willing to help riders to get back going if they could.I can imagine how frustrating that must have been.Grrr say the riders or something like that!!

  6. Lawrence says:

    @ Grant Madden: Yes, marshals are allowed to push start bikes, but I do understand their reluctance.

    I saw two, brave marshals pushing a stalled moto3 machine(I can’t remember who) bike across the racing line. Two riders zoomed past almost immediately. Crazy stuff this Jerez weekend!

    Nicklas Ajo just got himself suspended from racing in Estoril for shoving a marshal following a crash.