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 Valencia: Of Dr. Marquez and Mr. Hyde, Bumpy Tracks, & Leasing Yamaha Engines

11/09/2012 @ 7:13 pm, by David Emmett8 COMMENTS

Friday Summary at Valencia: Of Dr. Marquez and Mr. Hyde, Bumpy Tracks, & Leasing Yamaha Engines Valencian GP MotoGP Friday Scott Jones 131

If there is one rider in the entire MotoGP paddock who recalls the strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it is Marc Marquez. Around the paddock, speaking to the press, at public appearances, the Spaniard is soft-spoken, polite, friendly. When he speaks, he speaks only in commonplaces, his media training having expunged any trace of opinion or controversy from his speech (in either English or Spanish). Put him on a bike, however, and the beast is unleashed. He is merciless, in his speed, in his ownership of the track, and in his disregard of anyone else on the track.

So it was unsurprising that the Spaniard should find himself in trouble once again. During the afternoon practice, Marquez slotted his bike underneath an unsuspecting Simone Corsi going into turn 10, sending the Italian tumbling through the gravel in the process.

The move was reminiscent of the incident at Motegi, where Marquez barged past Mika Kallio with similar disregard for the consequences, but unlike Motegi, this time Marquez received a penalty from Race Direction, for contravening section 1.21.2, a section Marquez by now must now almost by heart. That part of the Sporting Regulations which governs ‘riding in a responsible manner which does not cause danger to other competitors’. For his sins, Marquez is to start from the back of the grid on Sunday, regardless of where he qualifies.

The punishment has been coming for a while. Race Direction has been working this year on taking previous behavior into account, and that, above all, was the reason for Marquez to have his wrist slapped.

The list of incidents involving Marquez is long: starting with the collision with Thomas Luthi in the very first race at Qatar; the clash with Pol Espargaro at Barcelona, causing Espargaro to crash out; the collision with Kallio at Motegi; and now this incident with Corsi at Valencia. There were numerous other minor incidents in which Marquez featured, the Barcelona incident, for example, coming at the end of a race which had seen a fair smattering of other questionable moves.

The actual incident Marquez was punished for was not even particularly reckless. Marquez was clearly the faster of the two riders, but Corsi had not seen the Spaniard coming through. The sensible thing would have been to wait a couple of corners to come past, but Marquez’ impatience got the better of him.

Had the incident happened in the race, Marquez would have likely escaped punishment, the Spaniard’s move being regarded as battling for position, but to put the same forceful move on Corsi on Friday afternoon, when there is nothing at stake other than a little bit of pride and some time spent on set up, is going a little beyond the pail.

Aggression in a rider is a positive trait – Red Bull KTM Moto3 rider Danny Kent, for example, uses boxing training to make him think and react more aggressively on track – but that aggression needs to be contained and channeled in a positive manner. Right now, Marquez seems to get the red mist a little too quickly, going from mild-mannered Bruce Banner to ‘HULK SMASH!’ before you can even blink.

That aggression is a quality Valentino Rossi admires in the young Spaniard. “I like a lot Marquez, his style, his skills, and also he is aggressive. A talented guy who is 19 years old has to be like this,” Rossi said. But he had to calm it down, Rossi added, especially when it was not necessary to take so many risks. “It is not the time on Friday afternoon for entry with another rider that is slower than you in difficult conditions,” Rossi said. “For sure, Marquez did not want Corsi to crash, but for me risk too much.”

Andrea Dovizioso agreed, though he added that he did not feel that there was any malice in Marquez’ actions. “He does not want to do that, but his level to feel the limit is different to other riders,” Dovizioso said. The Italian made a comparison to another rider with a reputation for pushing risks over the limit sometimes: “I think we are in the same situation as [Marco] Simoncelli,” he said. “He don’t want to do that, to be so aggressive, but it doesn’t matter, if you are different than other riders, and you are dangerous, you have to change.”

The incident with Marquez provided some much-needed diversion on yet another afternoon that was lost almost entirely to the rain, at least in the MotoGP class. The track was half-wet, half-dry, the kind of conditions in which an intermediate tire may offer some opportunities to put in some laps, but as has been remarked so many times this season, even with intermediates, some riders would likely choose to stay in their garages.

The conditions in which intermediate tires work are very specific, and you would be very unlikely ever to race with an intermediate: those conditions are usually when a track is drying, and the compromise of intermediate tires leaves them the worst of both worlds during a 45-minute race. If it is dry enough for intermediates to offer a benefit at the start, then the track is likely to dry out quickly enough for slicks to be a much better proposition after a few laps, leaving the intermediate-shod riders floundering at the back of the field.

If it is very wet, but the rain has stopped falling, then going out with wet tires will offer much more advantage in the early stages, and riders will then attempt to nurse a wet tire home. Here, an intermediate would be downright dangerous in the early stages, before possibly coming into its own towards the end.

Of course, the engine allocation limits also provide little incentive to put in laps in tricky conditions, as even at the end of the season, the factories are unwilling to risk crashing and damaging an engine beyond repair. The factories asked for a limit to be placed on the number of engines available, and the factories were given those limits, but it is the paying customers who suffer, with riders in their garages when it rains, and no more wheelies or burnouts at the end of a race.

In the morning, when it was properly wet, everyone got some track time, taking advantage of the opportunity to test the circuit’s new surface. The new surface was a clear improvement, but whether it was good enough or not depended on your perspective.

In the ‘glass half empty’ camp was Casey Stoner, who pointed out that there were still several bumps around, and that there were a couple of places where the seams of the new asphalt were in critical braking zones. In the ‘glass half full’ camp was just about everyone else, who praised the number of bumps that had been removed, and felt the resurfacing was a massive improvement.

But even those who liked the new surface had their criticisms. The new surface in the wet is treacherous, much as you would expect with a resurfaced track. The strange thing was that the place where the track was most dangerous was along the front straight, with everyone complaining that the rear was spinning up and not providing any traction along the front straight.

Cal Crutchlow joked of his frustration at not being able to pass a CRT bike along the straight, normally something achieved with no effort at all. In the corners, on the other hand, the grip was pretty good, Andrea Dovizioso said, telling reporters that you could carry a surprisingly large amount of lean angle through the corner, despite having no grip on the straights.

The lack of grip in acceleration for once played into the hands of the CRT machines. Their weakness is in acceleration and in electronic control, but the slick track negated the advantage of the factory prototypes. On Friday morning, for the first time, the two Aspar Aprilias were competitive with the prototypes, with Aleix Espargaro grabbing sixth and Randy De Puniet taking ninth, finishing among the prototypes rather than behind them.

Whether the days of the CRT bikes are numbered or not remains to be seen, but it is clear that the factories and Dorna have come to some kind of accommodation. Though the details of that agreement have yet to be revealed – those will come out either after the meeting of the Grand Prix Commission here at Valencia, or else in December – Yamaha’s bosses let slip some of what that solution may entail at Yamaha’s annual technical presentation, in which they talk about how the modified the bike over the past year.

When asked about the upcoming changes, MotoGP group leader Kouichi Tsuji told the assembled media that the manufacturers had agreed to “fill the performance gap” between the prototypes and the CRTs. That confirms recent reports that Honda and Yamaha will be offering cheaper options to private teams to help fill the grid.

Honda’s solution will be to produce and sell the RC213V production racer which we have been reporting on since Silverstone, while Yamaha will be providing engines to teams to build their own chassis around. The sticking point could well be Yamaha’s refusal to sell those engines, the Japanese factory willing solely to lease engines. Yamaha appears to fear losing control over their technology, and if they were to build an engine to sell, it would be different to the unit currently propelling the M1, with less performance and less technology.

Instead, Yamaha would prefer to lease engines, supplying an engine and a data engineer, and performing the maintenance on the engines themselves. This, however, may not be acceptable to Dorna, as Carmelo Ezpeleta has been fighting tooth and nail against the lease system, which sees the subsidies the teams receive from Dorna disappearing straight into the bank accounts of the factories. As Aspar boss Jorge Martinez said when asked about the satellite Ducatis he leased, the only thing he still had was photographs. On Saturday, we will know more.

Yamaha’s technical presentation once again offered a fascinating insight into the way the bike had changed, though this year, there was less detail on display, Tsuji joking that they had given away too much to their competitors in previous years. The change in capacity had meant that the bike was longer and had more forward weight bias, to control the more powerful 1000cc bike’s tendency to wheelie, while producing the same amount of grip at the rear wheel.

The new Bridgestone tires actually provided more grip, but by utilizing the same amount of grip as the 800, they could still achieve better acceleration. The biggest improvement had come from an uprated anti-wheelie system, which kept the front wheel on the ground better. That alone provided a tenth of a second improvement in lap time.

Tsuji also showed a comparison between Jorge Lorenzo’s lap times on the 800cc and the 1000cc at Motegi, to demonstrate the differences between the new and the old bike (the slides from the presentation can be viewed on GPOne.com). Lorenzo was losing 0.2 seconds braking for Turn 3, but gaining 0.3 seconds just along the back straight. Corner speed had been sacrificed as a result of the longer bike, but that was more than made up for by the gains in acceleration.

The higher speeds and heavier weight had meant that braking was happening earlier, and this was one of the issues which had meant that the carbon brakes were at the limit at the end of Motegi’s long straight. But improved brakes would have little effect, Tsuji said, as braking was limited at the moment by the amount of grip in the front tire.

Tsuji’s explanation of the braking problems also shed some light on Ben Spies’ brake failure at Motegi. Spies is notoriously late on the brakes, he told reporters, meaning that the brakes were having to handle greater loads than they were capable of. With discs limited in size and mass by rules, that left Spies with no choice but to adapt his riding style to cope. He had not, and had suffered the consequences.

Yamaha also shed some light on two of Spies’ other technical problems. The suspension collapse he had suffered at Laguna Seca had been down to a linkage bolt stripping its thread, Tsuji explained, while the blown engine had been the result of an overheating valve. Yamaha had solve that problem by cooling valve temperature, by the simple expedient of flowing fractionally more fuel across the valve. It has been a simple software fix, Tsuji said.

Despite Spies’ blow up, and the loss of an engine for Lorenzo at Assen, they had never been in any real danger of exceeding the engine allocation, Tsuji said. That situation was sufficiently under control that the sixth engine was now almost a spare.

With the engine allocation due to be reduce to five in 2013, once again at the request of the manufacturers, this bodes well for them managing with fewer engines. But Yamaha, Honda and Ducati have had a little help in managing their engine allocations this year from the climate. With so many sessions lost to the weather, riders have spent much more time in the pits.

The run of unusually wet weather cannot last forever, however. The statistical phenomenon of regression to the mean (the major factor in accident reduction after the placing of speed cameras) suggests that at some point, a season or two of completely dry races will ensue. Only then will the engine allocation measures be tested fully, with much more mileage put on the bikes. You would not bet against the factories getting it right, but they may find it a little more difficult than they had been expecting. That, however, is a question for a drier, warmer season.

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.

Comment:

  1. bemer2six says:

    I have to wonder what Rossi will have to say when he faces Marc M. next year? Ok so he is a bit aggressive but making him start from the back of the grid is a bit over the top.

  2. TexusTim says:

    I watched the interview with him after the penalty…THIS KID BETTER WISE UP HE IS IN TOTAL DENILE OF HIS RESPONSABILITY TO PASS WITH REGARD TO THE OTHER RIDER…HE KEPT SAYING ” I PASSED MANY TIMES IN THE SAME PLACE AGAINSST OTHER RIDERS SO IT WAS OK ”
    WHAT A DUMBASS…you do somthing like that you take responsability not try to blame it on others or make lame ass excusess…so far Im not impressed with his level of maturity.

  3. Many of the best riders these days are egomaniacs, not knowing Marquez I can’t say what his personality is like, but judging from his track behavior, he’s a major dick.

    Some of the behavior I’ve observed goes beyond aggression into the realm of reckless and endangering. He pretty openly tries to intimidate other riders on the track, and seems to be pretty successful in doing so.

    We’ll see how he fares with the big boys, on the big bikes. Other hot young riders who moved up quickly found that that kind of hyper aggression didn’t translate into wins when they were up against top riders who could not be intimidated. Some found themselves in the wall, others are no longer with us today.

    Riders learn and mature, but I have my doubts about Marquez given his attitude. When things don’t go his way he tends to come off like a spoiled child. I won’t deny his talent, but I wonder if he is mature enough and has the discipline and temperament to succeed in the the top-tier of the series, where pressures and the competitions talent are much higher.

  4. M says:

    ” engine allocation due to be reduce to five in 2013,”

    ??

  5. BBQdog says:

    Just Google on ‘Marquez & Wilairot Crash’ and you get one of the ‘finisted’ Marquez actions ever.
    Marquez has caused too much of these stupid and unsportive incidentes.

  6. @David Emmett: You may want to change that to “beyond the pale”, unless you’re talking about it being just beyond yonder bucket. ;-)

    Good article. Marc needs to reel in his inner beast a bit when it comes to FP and QP. Save it for the race, son.

  7. MikeD says:

    Tsuji’s explanation of the braking problems also shed some light on Ben Spies’ brake failure at Motegi. Spies is notoriously late on the brakes, he told reporters, meaning that the brakes were having to handle greater loads than they were capable of. With discs limited in size and mass by rules, that left Spies with no choice but to adapt his riding style to cope. He had not, and had suffered the consequences.

    Yamaha also shed some light on two of Spies’ other technical problems. The suspension collapse he had suffered at Laguna Seca had been down to a linkage bolt stripping its thread, Tsuji explained, while the blown engine had been the result of an overheating valve. Yamaha had solve that problem by cooling valve temperature, by the simple expedient of flowing fractionally more fuel across the valve. It has been a simple software fix, Tsuji said.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    OH ! SNAP ! Yamaha + Dorna just pulled a Ducati move on Ben.

    There’s nothing wrong with our bike, nor our bike’s brakes or fueling……..YOU MY DEAR HAM-FISTED, OVERGROWN RIDER, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM. (O.O)

    The guy is just trying his best on his own way(braking late) and yet a million euros plus motorcycle can’t have stronger brakes instaled or designed to cope with his way of riding BECAUSE THE CLOWNS at DORNA telling you how they want your brakes to be build to their specs and not necesarely your needs.
    They make the bikes bigger-heavier, the engines more powerful + higher top speeds and yet they seemingly don’t let the brakes be upgraded ? That’s what i understood anyways.

    RUN BEN, run as fast as u can…hopefuly Duc have changed thier dirty ways too…DORNA not a chance.

  8. David says:

    Ain’t no pail faces going to succeed on a Ducati.