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.

MotoGP Silly Season Update: Scott Redding’s Prospects, Yamaha’s Leased Engines, & Who Will Buy A Honda?

06/25/2013 @ 12:55 pm, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

MotoGP Silly Season Update: Scott Reddings Prospects, Yamahas Leased Engines, & Who Will Buy A Honda? FTR CRT MotoGP Scott Jones 635x422

The Dutch TT at Assen looks like being a very busy few days for everyone looking for a ride next year. The end of June has been earmarked as a deadline for all sorts of negotiations, from rider contracts to bike projects. Decisions will be made and contracts – or at least letters of intent – will be signed. A lot of paperwork should get done by the time the trucks roll out of the paddock on Sunday, heading for Germany and the Sachsenring.

Though most of the prototype rides are already wrapped up, there are still a few seats open, and some interesting and major changes could be on the way. The focal point for the future, and the key to all of the moves for next year is Scott Redding. The young Briton has raised his game in 2013, elevating himself to both the favorite for the 2013 Moto2 title, and hot property for MotoGP next season.

Redding’s prospects went from a possible ride on a Honda production racer with Marc VDS, on a relatively limited budget, to factories reconsidering their current contracts to see if they can make room for the Gloucestershire youngster.

Redding’s options are still very open, the only limit being the existing contracts the factories have. All three manufacturers would be keen to get their hands on him, with Ducati the current favorite to secure his services.

Yamaha’s hands are perhaps most tied, especially as Cal Crutchlow appears to be drawing ever closer to renewing his contract with the Tech 3 team, possibly including some kind of additional support from the factory. Redding could only join Yamaha if Bradley Smith could be persuaded to step aside, but the Englishman’s contract looks to be pretty watertight so far.

Redding’s chances at Honda look better. Livio Suppo has shown a keen interest in the Marc VDS rider, and though all four Honda seats are currently taken, either Alvaro Bautista or Stefan Bradl could find themselves being elbowed out of a ride to make way for the Englishman. Both Bautista and Bradl have contracts with HRC, but performance clauses could be invoked to move them aside.

Redding was in the frame for the Gresini ride last year, and that would be the logical spot to put him for 2014. The risk Redding faces is that if he does go to Gresini to replace Bautista, he could find himself with the same conditions the Spaniard currently has, to serve as a test mule for Showa and Nissin. Given Redding’s lack of experience, that would not make much sense, either for him, or for Honda.

The best option Redding has is with Ducati, however. Redding impressed the Italian factory in testing last year, when he was consistently faster than Andrea Iannone at the tests the two men attended. Redding came close to a deal to ride a Ducati for 2012, but a series of miscommunications with Ducati management saw Redding and Marc VDS walk away from the deal.

With the takeover of Ducati by Audi, top management at the Italian factory has changed, and the possibility has opened up again. The most likely scenario appears to be that Marc VDS will take over at least one of the Pramac bikes, though running both of them also remains an option. Currently, Ducati foots the bill almost entirely for the Pramac operation, and the factory has been less than impressed with the way the team has been run.

Having Marc VDS run the team – and help pay some of the bills – would both ease the financial strain, and bring a staff of experienced MotoGP technicians in to run the team. Almost everyone in the Marc VDS Racing team already has experience in the class, with Redding’s crew chief Pete Benson former crew chief to Nicky Hayden during his championship season.

If the Pramac deal does not go through, then Redding’s fallback position could be to enter on a leased Yamaha engine and Kalex chassis. The Marc VDS team already has a strong relationship with Kalex, after the team switched to the German chassis manufacturer at the beginning of last season.

The Kalex / Yamaha option is probably the best of the non-prototype rides available, given the support which will come from Yamaha. Not only will the engine spec be very strong – Yamaha have promised to deliver an engine very close to the satellite spec – but the Japanese factory is likely to support chassis manufacturers in designing frames for the bikes, a prerequisite if the bikes are to be competitive.

Time is running out for this option, however. Kalex have told interested teams, including Marc VDS and the Pons team, that they will need to begin work on designing the chassis in July, which means that contracts need to be signed by the end of June. The costs are known: around 800,000 euros for the lease of the Yamaha engines, which includes three motors and two rebuilds, and 200,000 euros for the chassis.

But that does not include research and development. That is a cost to be borne separately, and as yet, no figures have been named. It will be a significant sum, however, likely to be a multiple of the cost of a chassis.

The cost of development could well be the obstacle which prevents Sito Pons from making a return to MotoGP. Pons has been in talks with other teams – most notably Marc VDS – trying to persuade them to go with the Kalex option, and share the cost of chassis development as widely as possible. Right now, Pons looks like being on his own, unless the Marc VDS deal with Ducati falls through.

The Yamaha engine lease option is popular, however. Performance should not be an issue for the engines, as the 24 liters of fuel they are to be allowed should compensate for being forced to use the spec electronics. It should also provide a genuine benchmark for the advantage the factories have with their proprietary electronics: if the leased Yamaha is anywhere near competitive, then electronics will not be as important a factor as the factories believe.

One of the biggest threats to performance will be in the garage of the teams themselves, however. Each leased engine will come with a Yamaha engineer, who will be in charge of managing the engines. That engineer will have the ability to control maximum revs, and with it, power output. Just as happens in the satellite teams, power will be limited, in the name of ensuring reliability. Not by much, but possibly just enough.

Both the Forward team and Aspar are looking at Yamaha engines, though the two teams are engaged with different frame builders. Forward are in talks with FTR to build a chassis for the Yamaha, an option which current Forward rider Colin Edwards is extremely keen to pursue.

Edwards has given high praise to the British engineering firm, appreciating the feel of the FTR chassis he currently rides in the class. Aspar, meanwhile, are in talks with Suter, to have the Swiss chassis builder provide them with frames for Yamaha’s engines. But the interest of Aspar could just be a political gambit, aimed at putting pressure on Aprilia to step up and provide a more powerful engine for 2014.

Aprilia appears to be in two minds about their participation next year, keen to continue the excellent progress they have made throughout the year. Aleix Espargaro has consistently run with the satellite Ducatis, and has occasionally threatened the satellite Hondas as well. The chassis is good, the engine is sufficient, and the Aprilia electronics package, developed in World Superbikes, is more than good enough to get close to the prototypes.

But if Aprilia want to keep using their own software in 2014, they would have to compete as an MSMA entry, which would mean managing with just 5 engines and 20 liters of fuel. The RSV4 engine in its current state is simply not able to do so; perhaps it could be made to manage with the fuel, but managing the fuel and the reliability is beyond the scope of Aprilia’s MotoGP race program.

That means that Aprilia would have to switch to the Magneti Marelli electronics, a system which at the moment, is lagging behind Aprilia’s proprietary system. But Marelli is making large steps forward throughout the season, and with Michael Laverty riding the PBM machine, they are gaining useful data on running the RSV4 engine with the spec-electronics. Aprilia have to decide whether they are willing to become just a chassis and engine supplier, and abandon MotoGP as a platform for electronics development.

When Honda announced its production racer, a dumbed down version of their RC213V, it was widely assumed that this would be the weapon of choice for the current CRT teams. Even now, speaking to senior HRC staff like Livio Suppo, they will tell you that they fully expect to sell all five production racers to MotoGP teams.

However, speak to the current CRT teams, and they are far from convinced. Though the production racer’s chassis should be impeccable, teams are sceptical about just how competitive the bike will be. Steel valve springs will rule out high engine speeds, and the level of performance promised has not impressed the teams.

One current CRT team member told me they had been looking at the Honda racer, but that it was simply too expensive for the performance on offer. “Honda told us performance would be about 7% down on the prototype,” the CRT team member said. “But that is exactly where we already are with our CRT bike.” What’s more, the team already owns the bikes, and can compete again next year with almost the same bikes with just a small additional cost for upgrades to the latest spec.

They already have money invested in bikes, and the spec of the production racer does not offer sufficient gains to persuade them to make the change. They would still find themselves fighting for places 10 to 15, but now be 2 million euros or more out of pocket. Instead, they would rather invest in team infrastructure, and improving what they already have.

At least Honda’s production racer has a longer deadline. HRC is going ahead with the project anyway, and bikes will be provided at the Valencia test. Given the fact that development work is the hardest part, actually producing the appropriate numbers should be easy. Whether that numbers is the maximum of five, as promised, or just a couple, we will see later in the year.

Photo: © 2013 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. TexusTim says:

    7% is a lot to overcome, but so is fuel consumption and forced electronics package . and they call this competition ” I guess prototype means various things to various engineers…lol…so given todays contract who’s ride at ducatti would be available next year ? is Innone under a “Honda satalite performance clause”?jkn… but Nicky has not announced renewal for 2014. ever since the rookie rule was thrown out and marquez being so fast on the liter gp bikes every team is looking at moto 2 and rightfully so…there is a generation of riders currently in moto gp that even though some are my all time favorite riders sadly they are not going to win anymore races.

  2. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    I would bet Bautista gets the boot which is sad. I can’t imagine Bradl’s ride is going to be taken from him.

    picking up on what Texus mentions–I wonder what will happen to Nicky Hayden? I will be seriously bummed out if there’s no Nicky Hayden on the grid next year.

    Surely Hayden is talking to folks about where he goes next year.

    I like that there’s still a place for a guy like Colin Edwards…but I wonder why these older guys don’t look into starting their own teams, ala Kenny Roberts. Surely they’re connected.

  3. Chaz Michael Michaels says:

    …also, if Crutchlow stays with Tech3 w/additional support from the factory then I guess we were all wrong and Crutchlow’s heavy-handed, boorish tactics with the Japanese were, in fact, the right approach.

  4. BimotaCon says:

    How will paying 800,000 euros for a leased Yamaha engine work if it can be claimed for 20,000 euros? And how could a production based Aprilia engine compete as an MSMA entry when it’s for prototypes only? I wish all law enforcers were as understanding.

  5. Norm G. says:

    re: “How will paying 800,000 euros for a leased Yamaha engine work if it can be claimed for 20,000 euros?”

    better question, what makes you think the CRT concept has a future beyond 12/31/13…?

  6. Con, you might have missed this piece of news:

    The claiming rule is gone, and electronics dictates which teams are “MSMA” and thus get only 20 liters of fuel and five engines per season.

  7. TexusTim says:

    let’s face it at some point soon we will have to say goodbye to some of history’s best gp riders we have ever seen…I say this out of a lot of respect and saddness to see them go but time is not on the side of.
    even the best machinery cannot stop the onset of time thus age and that’s that. I will never forget the last lap antics of these guys ! especially at assen ! who can forget 2006 ? almost colin almost man

  8. Joe Sixpack says:

    You should read this:

    Some dude named Colin Edwards thinks the Honda will be competitive.

  9. BimotaCon says:

    Thanks Jensen I did miss it. That’s the biggest problem with Motogp you only have to blink and the rules have changed. Let alone go away for a few weeks to play with race bikes.

  10. BimotaCon says:

    Thanks Jensen I did miss it. That’s the biggest problem with Motogp you only have to blink and the rules have changed. Let alone go away for a few weeks to play with race bikes.

  11. TexusTim says:

    so 6th to 8th may be posable with a fast rider but remember no seamless gear box and down 7 % on power…. well see.

  12. Norm G. says:

    re: “Honda told us performance would be about 7% down on the prototype,” the CRT team member said. “But that is exactly where we already are with our CRT bike.”

    I think somebody’s forgetting to carry the zero. CRT’s are more like 70% down on power.