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 Misano: The Weather Takes Center Stage

09/15/2012 @ 1:20 pm, by David EmmettComments Off

Friday Summary at Misano: The Weather Takes Center Stage Friday Misano San Marino GP MotoGP Scott Jones011

The main protagonist in Friday’s action was the weather. Like a hormonal teenage girl, the rain simply could not make up its mind whether it was going to fall properly or not, light drizzle blowing in for ten minutes before blowing out again five minutes later.

Hormonal teenage boys, it should be noted, know exactly what they want, and apart from the obvious, what they want is the opposite of whatever they have just been told. The weather left the track in that awful half-and-half condition, too cold and damp for slicks, too dry for wets, and the track conditions left the MotoGP men mostly sitting in the pits.

Dani Pedrosa explained it best. “Too wet, so you cannot push, so the tire cools down immediately after you go out, and in or two laps you have to stop, because there is no temperature in the tire. And with the wets, it’s completely the opposite, the tire is immediately out of the working range, and one or two laps and it is gone.” Even in the short period you could go out, there was nothing to be learned, Pedrosa said. “If the tire has too much temperature or too little temperature, the bike feels completely different. There’s no meaning in going out.”

Johnny Rea, however, put it most succinctly. “It was a pointless exercise really.” Despite that, Rea went out to try to learn more about the MotoGP bike, and the MotoGP Bridgestones, but the conditions made it impossible. Was there anything at all he had learned today? Rea was asked. “Yes, lunch is pretty good!” The Ulsterman quipped. Swapping between a MotoGP bike and a World Superbike machine had been tough, though it had made his WSBK Honda CBR1000RR feel much better.

“Mentally, it’s much harder to go from SBK to GP,” Rea said. “When I came back from Aragon to the Nurburgring I had such a good feeling straight away, because the bike was moving, and a lot of feedback from the tires, the chassis, so immediately you understand the limit. But when I went from Russia to Brno, you have to get to a certain level and that feels like the limit, but the limit is one second beyond that. So that’s what’s tough.”

Rea was one of the few factory riders to go out and put a few laps in, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi all having spent their day sitting in the pits. That had disrupted their rhythm, Pedrosa explained. Instead of spending an hour or so after each session talking to their crews about how the bike felt and discussing the plans and options for the next practice session, they were done in about thirty seconds. Pedrosa was a little more loquacious than normal, happier to answer questions, but that may have been because the questions he was being asked were a little different than normal, the usual grind of “so how did it go” being meaningless.

Nicky Hayden also spent time out on the track, to try to evaluate the state of his hand, but it was hard to tell just how it will hold up over race distance after just a handful of laps. The weather had ruined his plans, however. The original plan was for Hayden to spend Friday getting back up to speed on the current Ducati Desmosedici, before testing the current bike and the modified frame and swingarm back to back on Saturday, evaluating which of them he would race on Sunday. But with Friday a wash, that plan fell through, forcing Hayden to stay with the bike they know, rather than switching to the new machine.

Ducati generated a lot of discussion on Friday, with Karel Abraham’s Cardion AB team officially announcing they would be passing on the option to run a satellite bike for 2013 and switching to an Aprilia CRT machine. The move had been long expected – mooted prior to Silverstone, but not cemented until Misano – especially once Ducati announced the signing of Ben Spies and Andrea Iannone for their junior team, leaving Cardion de facto without a bike. But the relationship had gone sour a long time ago.

The press release in English was clear enough, citing a bike that was difficult to set up and an engine that was severely lacking in development. The press release in Czech went into even more detail: before Brno, the team was given a new engine, but it did not fit into the original frame they had been given. They had to modify the frame to make it fit, and even then, this destroyed the weight distribution, forcing Karel Abraham to carry three more kilos to rectify the situation.

The bike could not be set up to suit the rider, the rider had to adapt to the bike. A point made today also by Nicky Hayden, when asked for advice for the riders joining Ducati for next year. Forget about trying to adapt the bike to suit you, Hayden said, you have to learn to adapt your style to the bike.

Ducati Corse boss Filippo Preziosi, meanwhile, had an opportunity to defend himself against some of the charges which have been laid at his door recently. In an interview with GPOne.com, Preziosi spoke of the recent complaints of a lack of development from Valentino Rossi’s crew chief Jeremy Burgess, of the visit by former Yamaha engineer Masao Furusawa to Preziosi, and of the lessons learned from Rossi’s period at the factory.

Ducati was continuously developing the bike, Preziosi said, though perhaps Burgess had not realized that this was the case. New swingarms had been supplied and tested, but rejected after not giving any improvement, and chassis updates were slowed due to the need to modify engine cases to fit a new frame, a recurrent problem with the engine allocation rules. Preziosi had much more to say, all of which is available (in both English and Italian) over on GPOne.com.

While the lack of on-track action left a hiatus which was filled with gossip and speculation, what everyone in the paddock really wants is weather consistent enough to put some laps on the bike. Saturday morning is looking as tricky as ever, but the afternoon should see the change we have been waiting for, with a spell of dry and sunny weather moving in for the rest of the week. Race day, at least, should be dry. Hopefully, that will be the case for qualifying as well. Or we could have very little to write about on Saturday too…

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.

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