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.

Monday Addendum at Sachsenring: Sometimes, The Winner Gets Overlooked

07/10/2012 @ 12:48 am, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

Monday Addendum at Sachsenring: Sometimes, The Winner Gets Overlooked Dani Pedrosa HRC Sachsenring MotoGP 635x421

There was one glaring omission from the post-Sachsenring roundup I wrote on Sunday night. Well, two actually, but the biggest was that I neglected to give Dani Pedrosa the attention he deserved for a fantastic win, his first in over nine months. Pedrosa managed the race brilliantly, starting on a bike which had seen massive changes ahead of the race, and which he took a few laps to get accustomed to.

He did so by dropping behind Stoner, and following in the wake of the reigning World Champion, until he was comfortable enough to make a pass. He accomplished this with ease, and the pair engaged in some synchronized drifting until the end of the race, when Pedrosa upped his pace and forced Stoner into an error. The Australian may have believed that he had the pace and the moves to beat Pedrosa, but the fact that he crashed would suggest that Pedrosa was forcing Stoner much closer to the limit than the champion realized.

The win was important to Pedrosa, not just because he has not yet put pen to paper on the two-year extension of his Repsol Honda deal, but also because he felt he owed it to his team for all the hard work they have put in, he said. This year, he had felt very comfortable on the bike – chatter notwithstanding, from both the rear with the existing tire and from the front with new ’33′ spec tire – and he felt he had the pace to win. But every time there was always someone else who was faster on the day. Until Sunday.

“When you do 2nd or 3rd, always is a good feeling,” Pedrosa told the media on Sunday, “but winning is the best feeling for the rider. When you win it’s extra, you feel just perfect. Not only for me, but also for the people that work for you. They push hard, and maybe in a race it looks like you will win, but in the end you don’t. This is so frustrating also for the mechanics, from my point of view. They give 100%, and if you can’t win it’s a little bit disappointing for the team, so I really want win always to give back something for all the support they give to me.”

When Stoner crashed, there were some who thought that the rain might have had something to do with it. The rain did not really start to fall until after Pedrosa crossed the line, though the Spaniard said he knew it was coming, because of the sudden mass of flies splattered across his visor. In my ignorance, I asked him about the flies on his visor, never having realized that this was the case. “Sometimes you get one fly, two flies, and at the end of the race you have many flies,” Pedrosa explained patiently, “but when they come so quickly this means the rain is coming.”

Thomas Baujard, French journalist for Moto Journal and ex-racer, explained the phenomenon further: when the pressure drops suddenly, the moisture increases in the air, and both flies and birds start flying a lot lower due to the air pressure. “Obviously, when you are riding at 300 km/h it’s not such a good idea to start looking up to see where the birds are flying,” Baujard commented wryly, but the mass appearance of flies on your visor was a hint that it is about to get very wet.

This kind of attention to detail is what marks out the very elite among racers. Riders will often speak of looking at the jumbo screens around the circuit to see what is going on, despite being engaged in hard battles at speeds that make most mortals tremble. Pedrosa once commented that he had been extremely concerned about the state of his tire, after seeing a shot of it on a jumbo screen during a race.

He had recognized the orange wheel as belonging to a Repsol Honda, and his bike from the camera angle. The human mind is an incredible instrument, and racers at this level use their minds just as much as their bodies, picking up details wherever they can.

Speaking of tires, that was my other omission from Sunday. Despite taking a comfortable lead in the championship, and despite taking 2nd in the race, it was a highly irritated Jorge Lorenzo who appeared at the post-race press conference. He had known from the start of the race that he would not be able to match the pace of the Hondas, having no feeling at all with the harder of the two options.

His own preference would have been to run the softer tire – “I was one and a half seconds faster with it in the morning warm up,” he told the press – but Bridgestone had told him they could not guarantee the soft tire would last. Big problems were expected from the halfway point, Bridgestone had told both Yamaha riders, and though the tire would not have been dangerous, they were uncertain of the performance of the tire.

It worked OK for Alvaro Bautista. The Spaniard rode an outstanding race on the softer option to finish in 7th, after starting dead last on the grid. Jorge Lorenzo’s team boss Wilco Zeelenberg was on Lorenzo’s side, and had wanted to take a chance on the softer tire. “I would have gambled on the softer tire, but then I like a gamble,” he told me.

Lorenzo and his team had not had enough dry time to get the harder tire to work with the bike, with only Friday’s FP1 and Sunday’s warm up run in the dry. Their hand forced by Bridgestone, both Lorenzo and Spies had struggled, whatever the results sheet said. Zeelenberg summed it up succinctly: “Shit race, good result.”

Bridgestone’s advice had been based on the much higher temperatures that appeared during the race, but the PR disaster at Assen, where Valentino Rossi and Ben Spies had lost massive chunks from their rear tires, must surely also have played a role. Bridgestone is now playing it more conservatively once again, after having found themselves in deep trouble while listening to the requests of the Safety Commission and the riders for a softer tire that warms up more quickly.

Bridgestone have reaped the rewards of being the sole-tire supplier, but for the past couple of years, they have also suffered the disadvantages too. They took massive criticism when riders were suffering cold-tire highsides and hurting themselves badly; they fixed that this year, and now they are copping criticism for excessive tire wear and dangerous heat build up in the tires.

Whether the criticism is justified or not, or at least the amount of criticism they have faced is justified or not, there is a quick and deeply cynical fix, as employed in most other series which use a spec tire. In those series, riders are forbidden by contract from criticizing the tires, facing massive fines – five figures, it is said, in one championship – if they do speak out about it. That makes the tires look great in those other series, though former WSBK rider Cal Crutchlow has spoken more freely since moving to MotoGP.

“Sometimes you would have five identical tires,” the Brit told reporters recently, “and each one would feel completely different.” At the time, he couldn’t complain about it publicly, but no such constraints exist in MotoGP. If Bridgestone – or Dorna – wanted to remove the illusion that results are determined by tires, then imposing a fine on speaking out would be quick fix. It would be fundamentally wrong, just as it is fundamentally wrong in other series, but it would be effective. Let’s hope they can rise above the situation and the temptation.

Photo: HRC

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


  1. Damo says:

    If Dani charged back to form and won the championship this year, I would be beyond pumped.

  2. Patron says:

    As a non Pedrosa fan, I thought he rode a brilliant race. Stoner pretty much flat out refused to admit that he was beaten heads up, but that’s exactly what happened. Pedrosa may not have won with a bunch of paint trading passes muscling stoner out of the way, but he beat him by dropping times to scorching levels and lulled Stoner into a false sense of security. Was fun to watch

  3. Westward says:

    Never really took to Pedrosa since 2006 and his attitude towards Hayden, but then became absolutely against him when he refused to shake Simoncelli’s hand as shown in a candid shot from a hallway after the LeMans incident…

    Don’t feel sorry for him one bit, or for him…

    As for the tyre issue, it would seem that from a cynical point of view, Dorna and Bridgestone could determine winners and losers… I would liked to have seen the Sachsenring race run with Yamaha M1′s on soft tyres too, for a different result…