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.

This Is Pretty Much What the Monster 800 Will Look Like

With the advent of the Ducati Monster 1200, it was only a matter of time before Ducati’s middleweight liquid-cooled “Monster 800″ would be spotted, and unsurprisingly the machines have a great deal in common. The one big difference seems to be that the 821cc Monster gets a double-sided swingarm, which has become Ducati’s new way of differentiating between its big and medium displacement models of the same machine, see entry for Ducati 899 Panigale. With the spied Ducati Monster 800 looking ready for primetime, and a pre-fall launch isn’t out of the question. Giving us an excellent glimpse into what the Ducati Monster 800 would look like, Luca Bar has again used his Photoshop skills to render up images of the still unreleased “baby” Monster.

Photos of the Mugen Shinden Ni sans Fairings

Given the competitive nature of the electric racing realm, its rare to see the big high-power bikes without their fairings, as teams are reluctant to reveal their secret sauce. Debuting the Mugen Shinden San this past weekend in Tokyo though, Team Mugen did just that, giving us a glimpse into the inner workings of the team’s 2013 race bike, the Mugen Shinden Ni. You don’t have to be an electron-head to get excited by these photos, as any race bike with a carbon fiber frame and swingarm is pretty drool-worthy, though the Shinden Ni’s carbon fiber battery enclosure does hide a great deal of the electric superbike’s geek factor. While the sheer size of the battery bike is impressive, it was expected when the Shinden was first announced.

Mugen Shinden San (神電 参) Electric Superbike Revealed

Mugen’s third purpose-built electric superbike for the Isle of Man TT, the Mugen Shinden San, has been revealed in Japan. Campaigning two machines for this year’s TT Zero race, Mugen has John McGuiness and Bruce Anstey at the helm of its “Shinden San” bikes, as the duo looks for a one-two finish in this year’s race. With MotoCzysz not racing at the Isle of Man this year, Mugen is a hot favorite to take the top podium spots, as well as crack the 110 mph barrier for electrics on the historic Snaefell Mountain Course (Mugen is targeting a 115 mph lap). An evolution on the company’s previous designs, the Shinden San fits 134hp — 10hp more than last year, thanks to a new smaller three-phase brushless motor provided by Mission Motors — into its 529lbs bulk.

Trackside Tuesday: The Winning Personality of Jack Miller

Chatting with a couple of NASCAR fans recently, I was reminded that any competition is boring if you don’t care who wins. But if you do care, then even cars driving around in circles can be very compelling entertainment. Those NASCAR fans really cared about how their favorite drivers finished, and not only how they finished in the latest race, but what and how those drivers were doing off the track as well. Those fans had been captured by the personalities of those drivers. One of the things NASCAR does well is sell personalities. All major sports-related businesses do this to some extent, but some organizations do it better than others.

Living the Dream – A Photographer’s Story: Qatar

Imagine if just for once you didn’t have to stick to your usual nine-to-five job. Instead you were able to do the one job you’ve always wanted to do, but any number of things (it’s usually money) have stood in the way. This is exactly the situation I found myself in six months ago when the company I had worked at, for the last 14 years, decided to close, making everyone redundant. This decision did not come as a surprise; in fact, I had been hanging around for the last few years hoping that it would happen, as I had a plan. Fast-forward six months and I have just finished photographing the opening round of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar. The plan is starting to unfold.

Saturday Summary at Silverstone: Where History Is Made

09/01/2013 @ 1:18 am, by David Emmett3 COMMENTS

Saturday Summary at Silverstone: Where History Is Made Saturday Silverstone British GP MotoGP Scott Jones 07 635x423

Why do we keep watching motorcycle racing? Because sometimes magic happens. Today was one of those days. Two riders took their sport to the known limits in qualifying at Silverstone on Saturday, and then pushed at the edges to see what was beyond.

What happened then took the breath of the crowd away, and left the press room sitting in stunned silence. And shutting the media up takes some doing.

Veteran broadcaster Dennis Noyes described the atmosphere in Parc Ferme after qualifying like being in a church. There was an air of awed reverence, quietness almost, as the teams of all three riders on the front row showed their respect for what they had just seen happen.

Jorge Lorenzo had put on a display of as near perfect riding as it is humanly possible to achieve, destroying the lap record in the process. And then Marc Marquez had gone faster still, with almost effortless ease.

As Lorenzo stopped in Parc Ferme after qualifying, he gave a little shake of his head. He knew what he had just done – afterwards, he would say the lap was one of the best of his career, and that there was really only one sector where he could have found more time – and it had not been enough. It doesn’t really matter what Lorenzo tries, matching Marc Marquez seems to be impossible.

Part of that is clearly the bike. The Hondas have an advantage over the Yamahas, as the distance between Jorge Lorenzo and the other Yamahas amply demonstrate. Lorenzo tries to compensate by being even smoother, even faster, finding time wherever he can, and yet still it is not enough. Asked whether he had made any mistakes on his last lap, he said he hadn’t.

“Almost no mistakes. Sometimes, but it’s not usual for me, because I have a good concentration.” Lorenzo also highlighted his strength with the Yamaha, giving a hint of the direction the bike has developed in. “I don’t push so much in the braking, I like to make the lap time with the throttle, and have good acceleration.”

While the Yamaha is slightly inferior to the Honda in braking, the real difference is Marc Marquez. The rookie – it is getting harder and harder to take that designation seriously – just seems to get faster and faster, pushing back the limits of the bike every time he climbed aboard. During qualifying in Silverstone, he found new frontiers to explore, pushing hard to warm up the tires before extending the boundaries of speed around the circuit.

So hard was Marquez trying to warm up the tires that he found himself going through Woodcote with the rear wheel stepping out sideways, as the power slide started to go horribly wrong. Unruffled, Marquez rode the slide out while his wheels came back in line, before going on to set a new lap record on his first flying lap.

The second runs of Lorenzo and Marquez left everyone speechless. Perfect Lorenzo, stunning, aggressive Marquez, with the Repsol Honda rookie coming out on top. If you wanted to see the limits of a racing motorcycle made visible, here were two men capable of doing so.

There was a flood of superlatives – even more, after we have had so many – for Marquez after qualifying. “I never saw a rookie like him, in all other motorsport that I know,” Valentino Rossi said afterwards. Even Jorge Lorenzo was full of compliments.

Comparing Marquez to his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, Lorenzo said “at this moment, Marc is a more complete rider. He’s more like Casey, but the difference between Casey and him is that Marc never gives up, when Casey sometimes gave up. Marc never gives up, and because of this, he is even harder to beat, no? Maybe Casey in Phillip Island is faster, and in some little moments is faster than Marc, but Marc never gives up.”

Like the shark in the movie Jaws, he just keeps on coming, and it is never, ever safe to go into the water.

Lorenzo thinks he knows where Marquez’s Achilles heel is though. “I believe he has been lucky for the crashes,” Lorenzo said. “If he’s taking the same risk for a long time, then maybe sometimes he will get injured. Because it’s not so simple to not get injured if you risk so much.”

It is hard to argue with Lorenzo’s point, but Marquez has had some huge crashes, but like Valentino Rossi before him, he always appears to walk away unhurt, including from his monster crash at Mugello. Marquez may be taking risks, but he has the talent and the reflexes to deal with those risks.

That does not mean Marquez is a shoe-in for the win on Sunday. He himself pointed to Lorenzo as having the better race pace, after the Factory Yamaha man laid down a scorching pace in FP4. Lorenzo did 13 full laps in a single run on a hard tire, all of the in the 2’02 bracket.

Nobody could match that, though the race may be a different affair. Marquez’s appointing Lorenzo as favorite for the win may be realistic, but it is also slightly disingenuous. By immediately pointing to Lorenzo, he deflects any pressure from himself and lays it on his rival.

This is a trick he has played throughout the year, and continues to play at every round. “I honestly didn’t expect that lap time,” he told the press conference, though it is hard to believe he meant it.

He repeats every race he is not the favorite, that there is no pressure on him to win the title. Then he subtly places the pressure on Lorenzo and Pedrosa, pointing out that they are expected to win, and it is up to them to perform. It sounds like the subtlest form of challenge ever issued, but the look on Lorenzo’s and Pedrosa’s faces shows that it clearly stings.

What else is stinging is Cal Crutchlow’s arm. The Englishman had his now traditional massive crash on Saturday morning, despite vowing that he would not injure himself this weekend before practice started. Crutchlow had two huge crashes in the morning session of practice, the first one at 182 mph at the entry to Maggots. He did not understand what had happened, he said, he had done nothing different.

Then, as the remains of his totaled M1 were being picked over back in the Tech 3 garage, he locked the front going into Vale, a favorite corner to crash, releasing the brake only to have a vicious headshake jam his hand back onto the brake and lock the front once again. This crash, he understood. The other one – apart from it being cold and windy – he did not.

He suffered massive abrasions on his right arm, his leathers opening up for the second time this season to allow gravel in and rip up his arm. Though he was trying not to let on how painful it was, he was furtively treating it rather gingerly, keeping it tucked away next to his body, the hand in his jacket pocket.

Massive crash or not, Crutchlow still managed to put the bike on the front row, though the gap to the front two was huge. Six tenths to Lorenzo, nearly three quarters of a second to Marquez, and yet still the best of the rest. Crutchlow finished ahead of Stefan Bradl, the LCR Honda man once again posting a strong qualifying performance just over a tenth away from the front row.

In 5th and 6th came Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi, Pedrosa disappointed, Rossi relieved rather than anything else. Pedrosa felt he could have done better, but after a big slide on the front he had lost a lap and decided not to push.

He played down the lack of pace in qualifying, saying “one lap is one lap,” and emphasizing that was not what was important. Race pace, on the other hand, was strong.

Whether Valentino Rossi’s race pace is as good remains to be seen, but he was at least happy with his qualifying strategy. Since the change to the two qualifier system, Rossi has struggled terribly with qualifying, never finding the right approach.

Heading out and pushing hard early hard worked for him, he said, and he had managed to secure a second row start. From there, an assault on the podium is possible, he avowed, though he still has a few problems to iron out before Sunday.

So what will we seen on Sunday? On straight race pace, you would have to say that Lorenzo is favorite. The ease with which Lorenzo strings together seriously fast laps is worrying, and his stint in FP4 was clearly aimed at demoralizing the opposition. Marc Marquez is immune to such tactics, however, and has a few of his own up his sleeve.

Lorenzo’s avowed strategy is to get out in front early and push on, and hope to build enough of a cushion to be able to defend until the end. On the timesheets, Lorenzo looks like he can pull it off, but it seems likely that reality will intervene. Marc Marquez finds pace from somewhere, and always runs at the very front, which is why he has been on the podium for 10 of the last 11 races.

Behind those two – or perhaps even alongside them – are again a group of three riders, with little separating Bradl, Rossi and Crutchlow on race pace. Given his home track advantage, you have to guess that Crutchlow will have that little bit extra, if the crashes haven’t damaged his mojo sufficiently.

Sunday looks like seeing some intriguing battles. MotoGP is turning more and more often into the Marquez vs Lorenzo show, and that is healthy for the sport.

Moto2 sees Scott Redding on a mission, despite ending second behind Takaaki Nakagami. The Japanese rider is on pole for the third time this season and determined to translate that into a win for a change.

To do that, he will have to fend off Redding, who wants a win at home, but will not risk points against his main rival Pol Espargaro. Espargaro is suffering in Moto2 this weekend.

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.

Comment:

  1. damn says:

    damn marq and jorge are stunning! the best riders in MotoGP! let them fight the whole race! go jorge go marq

  2. smiler says:

    Seems Lorenzo was right that Merguez had been lucky with his crashed.

    So at last the marc merguez train falters and Lorenzo jumps in and Lil Dani gets some points. Rossi looks on like a father watching his children.

  3. “So at last the marc merguez train falters and Lorenzo jumps in and Lil Dani gets some points.”

    Meanwhile, Marquez extended his lead in the championship. Quite the racing this weekend.