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.

Friday Summary at Indianapolis: The Love-Hate Relationship with Indy & How Hondas Love Going Left

08/18/2012 @ 10:32 am, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

Friday Summary at Indianapolis: The Love Hate Relationship with Indy & How Hondas Love Going Left Casey Stoner Indianapolis GP Jules Cisek 635x423

MotoGP has a love-hate relationship with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: most of the paddock love the place, the rest hate it. The way those feelings are divided is what is really interesting, though: the admirers of the track include most of the media, the teams and many, many fans. Those that hate the track are a small but well-defined group: anyone either wielding a camera or a racing a motorcycle have very few kind words for IMS.

So why the schism? It really depends on what you are doing at the track: the circuit has some of the best facilities of any circuit the MotoGP circus goes to all year, making the life of the media, the teams and the fans exceptionally easy. The photographers, on the other hand, hate the track because of the fences. As a circuit that mainly hosts car races, there are high chain-link fences all around the circuit, to prevent debris from wrecked four-wheelers from flying into the spectators.

At a few selected spots on the circuit, there are openings in the fences for photographers to poke their lenses through, giving them an unobstructed view of the circuit. There are lots of photographers and relatively few camera holes, leaving gaggles of photographers gathered around the available shooting spots like narwhals around a breathing hole in the arctic icesheet.

The other group that doesn’t particularly care for the track are the riders. Though the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is iconic in the very deepest sense of the word, “but the circuit we ride has nothing to do with the history of the place” as Casey Stoner likes to point out. The problem for the riders is two-fold, the layout and the surface. First, the layout: the road course inside Indianapolis’ legendary oval was laid out for the Formula One series when it first visited the track at the turn of the century.

The track incorporated a couple of sections of the oval: the front straight, the first half of what is Turn 1 on the oval, and most of Turn 2. The safety requirements of cars meant that both sections of the turns were taken at some speed, with the F1 final corner (Turn 1 for the MotoGP circuit) being particularly fast. Unfortunately, the safety requirements for a motorcycle racing track are very different from cars, the bikes requiring a lot more runoff in the fast corners.

And so the decision was taken to run the track in the opposite direction, a wise decision from the point of view of safety, and also meaning that the bikes cross the line in the same direction as the cars racing the oval during the Indy 500 or NASCAR Brickyard 400. But it also meant that the corners all now went the ‘wrong’ way, closing up rather than opening out, as they were designed to do. “It’s very hard,” Dani Pedrosa says of the circuit, “because the apex point is very late because we run in the opposite direction, so choosing the line is very difficult.”

His Repsol Honda teammate – an outspoken critic of the track – explains the effect that has on riding the bikes. “You’re constantly having to tiptoe around this track and it’s not a lot of fun when you’re just having to tiptoe this bikes round constantly. It’s basically like riding in the wet, and it’s not a lot of fun.” The switch to 1000cc bikes has improved it a little, as the added torque of the bigger bikes means that they can run a slightly long gearing and drive out of the corners for longer, Stoner explains.

The other problem the riders have with the track is the surface. Or rather, the surfaces, as there are two different types of surface being used at the track, a dark tarmac around the first sector, and a much lighter surface elsewhere around the circuit. Grip on the dark tarmac is good, according to the MotoGP men, but the white asphalt is very tricky indeed. “As soon as you hit that stuff there’s nothing there,” says Stoner, “there’s nothing to push against and there’s no grip.”

Conditions were made worse by very heavy rain on Thursday night, leaving damp patches and a very dirty track during morning practice. Times were very slow in the morning, and the damp patches caught a couple of riders out, Hector Barbera getting the very worst of it. The Spaniard highsided on a damp patch, and ended up with fractured vertebrae. It could have been much worse, however, given the way that Barbera was handled by the medical staff at trackside. Instead of being stabilized laying flat and shifted onto a backboard, he was picked up by shoulders and knees and lifted to safety, and onto a stretcher.

This is standard practice for car drivers, who are lifted this way while still strapped into their bucket seats. Motorcycle racers, however, don’t have bucket seats, and bending their spines in such a situation is a very bad idea indeed. The red tabbards signify that the marshalls involved are qualified emergency medical staff, but the incident once again highlights the need for improvements in training and briefing the medical staff. These are the best riders in the world, and they deserve the best protection Dorna can afford.

Grip or no grip, the Repsol Hondas are fast at Indy, helped by the fact that the circuit turns left for most of the time. The Honda RC213V has suffered vicious chatter all year, but especially since the introduction of the new front tire. However, the problem only really manifests itself in right handers, and as Indy mainly turns left – 10 lefts versus 6 right handers – that means a lot less chatter at Indianapolis.

Dani Pedrosa showed the potential of the bike, blitzing the afternoon session, with Ben Spies the only man within half a second of the Spaniard. Casey Stoner, too, felt he would have been able to get close to the pace of his teammate had he not been beset by a few problems – an electrical glitch, a stone in the chain, and then traffic in the form of the CRT machines he loathes so much – meant he was never able to put in a really fast lap.

Ben Spies is on form at Indy, the American fast both in the morning and the afternoon. Spies is still chasing a solid result and hoping for luck to finally run his way before he leaves Yamaha at the end of the year – the Texan remains silent on his future, though the latest and most intriguing report places him back with Suzuki in World Superbikes for 2013, while working on the bike ready for a 2014 return to MotoGP.

Teammate Jorge Lorenzo is a little worried about the distance to Pedrosa, though he believes that with a little bit of help from setup and a bit more from himself, he can close the gap enough to be competitive. His mission at Indy is to protect his points lead carefully, not conceding too much to either Dani Pedrosa or Casey Stoner. The nature of the chatter the Hondas suffer is such that while they benefit at left-handed tracks, they suffer badly at clockwise tracks, and with Brno and Misano coming up, they will have a tough time competing with Lorenzo.

The Ducatis, meanwhile, are still not able to profit from their top speed. They have two problems, turning and acceleration, and each is causing them to lose time. To improve acceleration, both Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi are working on creating more rear grip, but more grip at the rear causes the front to push, exacerbating the understeer the bike has. But without the rear grip, they are losing massively in acceleration, especially out of Turn 4 and Turn 16, Rossi said. “In the end we have big top speed,” the Italian said, “but we lose too much in acceleration to the other guys.”

With more rubber on the track, it should at least now be possible to start chasing a proper setup. With fair weather set for qualifying and race day, the teams will at least have time to get it right.

Photo: © 2012 Jules Cisek / Popmonkey – All Rights Reserved

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

Comment:

  1. John says:

    Good god, it’s a miracle Barbera wasn’t paralyzed by those track workers. Indy may not see a lot of motorcycle action, but anyone with so much as a first aid merit badge knows you don’t go tossing people around like ragdolls if a spinal injury is even slightly suspected.

  2. Indeed, John. Adding to the problem, the stretcher didn’t collapse correctly when they were trying to put him into the ambulance. There was tilting, jarring and jiggling going on as they attempted to get him inside the vehicle. All in all, a pretty amateur display.

  3. Bob Krzeszkiewicz says:

    This isn’t the first time medical staff have done this to riders in any series. Been going on for years. Even regular people with no first aid training know better than to move a crash victim. Very disappointing that this still happens. Other than adding airfences and larger cat boxes, the series has done little to improve safety and emergency treatment to riders.