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.

Saturday Summary at Catalunya: Pedrosa’s Scorcher, Lorenzo’s Engines, & Vinales’s Penalties

06/15/2013 @ 10:34 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

Saturday Summary at Catalunya: Pedrosas Scorcher, Lorenzos Engines, & Vinaless Penalties dani pedrosa motogp catalunya hrc

Cal Crutchlow called it right on Friday. “We know the Hondas take a little bit longer to set up, but when they come out Saturday morning, they normally take a second off.”

It was more like half a second on Saturday morning, but by the afternoon, Dani Pedrosa took nearly 1.6 seconds off his best time on Friday, smashing the pole record which had stood since 2008.

That was a lap set on the supersoft qualifying tires still used at the time, which had Nicky Hayden happily reminiscing about the fun to be had on the sticky one-lap rubber.

It was an extraordinary lap by Pedrosa, though the Honda man himself was not overly impressed. When asked if it was his best lap ever, Pedrosa acknowledged that it was good, perhaps one of his best, but still not as good as his lap at Valencia at the end of last year.

Pedrosa’s blistering record lap was not the only excitement during qualifying, which turned into an intriguing session. It started off with Jorge Lorenzo taking off out of the pits in his customary fashion, only to cruise back in again after his first full lap.

The clutch on his Yamaha M1 had destroyed itself, and so he had to leap back on to his second bike and try to set a time on that. That machine never felt the same as his number one bike, and so Lorenzo didn’t quite have the confidence to push as hard as he hoped to. That left him third on the grid, but at least still on the front row.

Lorenzo’s travails benefited Cal Crutchlow, the Tech 3 man once again equaling his best qualifying. He played down his achievement as usual, admitting that Lorenzo’s problems helped contribute to taking second spot on the grid, and making him the fastest Yamaha rider.

His lap was still impressive, though. Even if Lorenzo had been on form, the Englishman would only have been bumped a place, his lap having assured him of a front row start.

Behind Crutchlow, two more men who were quick, those the names of Alvaro Bautista and Nicky Hayden were more of a surprise. The soft tires worked for the Gresini Honda rider, allowing him to push for a fast lap and take fourth, while Nicky Hayden described his qualifying as the best of the year, though he felt he could have gone faster.

He had encountered traffic in the final sector of his fast lap, and though he had not been hindered by it, it had been enough of a distraction that it had prevented him from putting in a perfect lap.

That perfect lap is hard, as Marc Marquez found at Barcelona. The many long corners make it hard to get every part of every corner perfect, and once you miss out in one place, the lap tends to be ruined.

Though fastest on Saturday morning, Marquez could manage only the sixth best time during qualifying, the Repsol Honda man more at ease in the morning when conditions were cooler.

Marquez starts ahead of Valentino Rossi, the Italian once again falling short in qualifying. Three tenths was what he was missing, and he was losing them a tenth at a time in three braking points around the track. Braking in extremis remains Rossi’s weakest point on the Yamaha, the Italian finding it impossible to brake later, and still get the bike to turn into the corner.

In terms of race pace, the only real reflection of the grid is that Pedrosa is clearly fastest. Jorge Lorenzo believes he can stick with Pedrosa, something which Cal Crutchlow agrees with. Behind the two leaders, a group of three, with Crutchlow, Rossi and Marquez all more or less on the same pace.

The question will be who gambles correctly on the set up to help make the tires last for the entire race – for tires will be an issue.

Opinion is still clearly split, with both soft and hard tires being an option for the race. The difference is in how much the rear tire drops off after the first few laps, and whether the rider believes they can manage the tire home.

For the Ducatis, the choice is clear, the hard tire loses too much once the early grip disappears, and it just starts to spin up. The soft tire also drops off, but it still grips and provides drive out of the corners, something missing from the harder tire. Cal Crutchlow believes he can use either tire, the question will be whether he will have an advantage at the end of the race over the soft tire.

Whatever tire is chosen, Valentino Rossi believes that everyone will make the same choice in the end. All of the top riders will look at each other, and in the end all go for the same tire. That means that most likely, everyone will plump for the soft tire.

Its performance degrades after a few laps, but the lap times stay about the same level as the hard tire, and it offers extra grip and speed in the early laps of the race. The two questions to be answered at Barcelona will be who can catch Dani Pedrosa, and who can hang on for a podium?

Along with tires, engines are a major topic at Barcelona, for both the MotoGP and Moto2 classes. In MotoGP, the engine lists published after qualifying showed that Yamaha are struggling to make the end of the season.

Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo have both had one engine withdrawn from allocation, and a couple of others appear to be suspect. Yamaha’s 2013 M1 engine appears to have a minor design flaw, one not big enough to show up during testing, but just large enough to cause problems in the heat of a racing season.

With Rossi and Lorenzo having used four of their permitted five engines, the 2013 championship could be decided by technical knockout, rather than in a straight slugging match.

The engine durability rules were the brainchild of the manufacturers, in response to demands from the FIM and Dorna that the factories come up with saving money.

The MSMA felt that reducing maintenance would help reduce costs, and provide exactly the kind of engineering challenge which the racing departments could use to sell to their executive boards to help get a budget to go racing.

Like the fuel regulations, the engine limits are there at the behest of the factories, and like the fuel regulations, they can have some unforeseen consequences. Just how keen Yamaha will be on retaining the engine regulations if they lose a championship due to a minor design fault remains very much to be seen.

Meanwhile, Honda’s reliability looks positively soul-destroying. All four Honda RC213Vs are still only on the first two engines, with no sign of weakness showing anywhere.

Paddock insiders like to joke that Honda would really like to reduce the allocation limits to just two engines for a season, though they might be willing to concede a third engine for the last few races, to make it a little easier on the other factories.

Yamaha’s engine problems sound the death knell for any hopes of a seamless gearbox for the Yamaha. The gearbox will not be tested this week at Aragon, and it is unlikely to see action at all this year. If it is ready in time for the Misano test in September, then it will not be raced until 2014. This could be a very long year for Yamaha.

Engines are also talk of the town in Moto2. Though Pol Espargaro’s pole position was merely proof that he is in devastating form in front of his home crowd, Scott Redding struggled with a lack of top speed. More surprisingly, so did his teammate Mika Kallio, the much lighter rider usually among the fastest through the speed traps.

At Barcelona, after being handed new engines at the beginning of the weekend, both Kallio and Redding were over 12 km/h down on Pol Espargaro, a gap that is much larger than usual.

When I left the track, the team was still debating whether to request a new engine and risk losing their deposit if the engine they are returning is not down on power, or try to manage the engine and focus on Redding’s riding. Redding’s comfortable lead in the championship will come in very handy at Barcelona, where damage limitation will be the name of the game.

Scott Redding will not be going lying down, however, and has taken to stirring things up.

Redding likes to have something different on the back of his helmet at every race, and at Barcelona, the track just a few miles from Pol Espargaro’s home town of Granollers, Redding has taken Espargaro’s slogan of “Never give up” and plastered it on the back of his helmet.

It is a clear taunt at Espargaro, but so far, the Spaniard appears unfazed.

The Moto3 class also saw the first penalty points awarded under the new system, for an egregious breach of track safety by Maverick Viñales. The young Spaniard had a crash early on in qualifying, and on the next lap after rejoining, Viñales discovered that the crash had also caused his engine to die on him.

The problem arose halfway along the front straight, Viñales pulling over as his bike began to slow. Seeing an opportunity, he pulled directly across pit lane exit, and right in front of another rider who was exiting the pits.

Viñales then added insult to injury by trying to push his bike the wrong way down pit lane, an offence under the safety rules of MotoGP. It was a rash, if understandable move, but awarding a penalty point may help press home the seriousness of the incident.

The Moto3 race itself should be a cracker, as it is so often at Barcelona. There are six riders all on roughly the same pace, and if they stick together, it could be a massive battle for the win. With nobody clearly faster than his rivals, the Moto3 race could be the race of the day.

Photo: HRC

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

Comment:

  1. TheSwede says:

    Pedrosa’s lap was bananas. You could see it coming the whole way and the BBC guys nearly blew a blood vessel lol. Nice to see Hayden nearer to the sharp end as well..

    I really hope the Yammi’s don’t have to take an extra engine. This is actually a pretty decent season we got going and that would really throw a wrench into it

  2. Crazy says:

    I think its a very bad thing “5 Engines”. If the Yamaha riders or Honda riders win the title because of an engine failure instead of rider ability to win its an HOLLOW championship. And to win a championship like that it can’t feel good for the rider that wins it. Yes i won the title but only because of failure from the other factory. because they have very good riders and the fighting should be done by riders and not by any silly failure that could have be avoid in the past by a simple engine replacement. it was very easy to win if the other top riders have to start from the pit.! To much rules will and seems allready to kill this season easy. it has just started and seems to be won already. this will be the most boring season a have watched in years! the points of riders are very close but thats something we wont see this year anymore. dull, boring, silly stupid crazy rules. bring back the old days.!!!!

  3. Tripps says:

    Engine or mechanical failures have had an impact on championships in the past; I don’t see how this is any different. Rossi and many of the greats have lost points due to mechanical failures in the past. They either lose the points with a DNF or struggle through it and get as many points as they can. It’s sad but it happens. Yamaha agreed to 5 engines and it was up to them to design their engines to last AND win. Sucks but it is a part of racing.

  4. L2C says:

    To extend what someone else said on another forum, I wonder if we’ll see a change in Lorenzo’s customary practice routine. He ritually runs a full race simulation every race weekend before the actual race. If his crew are in dire straits with engine reliability, they may eventually have to eliminate race simulations altogether.

    It will be interesting to see how well Lorenzo and his team cope with this challenge. This could have negative consequences for the setup of his bike, but more importantly his mindset could be adversely affected if he has to give up something that is obviously paramount to his race preparations.

    This is one story to keep an eye on, for sure.

  5. “Yamaha agreed to 5 engines and it was up to them to design their engines to last AND win.”

    Indeed. It was the manufacturers who asked for the 5-engine limit in the first place. They wanted the additional challenge. It appears as though Yamaha is now facing it.