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.

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.

Saturday Summary at Brno: Of Small Differences Making A Big Difference & The Last Of The Contracts

08/26/2012 @ 12:46 am, by David Emmett4 COMMENTS

Saturday Summary at Brno: Of Small Differences Making A Big Difference & The Last Of The Contracts Valentino Rossi Ducati Corse MotoGP Brno 635x425

Up until the start of MotoGP qualifying, it looked like Dani Pedrosa had the race at Brno just about wrapped up. The media center joke was that they might as well start writing his name on the trophy, so much faster was the Repsol Honda man. And then he crashed in qualifying, and started going an awful lot slower, in a tale that has echoes of Casey Stoner’s time at Ducati.

The crash was relatively simple – “maybe I was on the limit too much,” Pedrosa said, and Brno with its long corners, some flat and some downhill, means the riders are pushing the front for a lot of the time at the circuit – but the consequences were serious. Pedrosa returned to the pits, got on his second bike, and immediately had much worse chatter than before. Despite the setup being identical on both bikes. This is the kind of thing that Casey Stoner used to suffer at Ducati, two identical bikes that felt different, an issue that he never suffered at Honda. But the problem with hand-built prototypes is that apparently, even tiny deviations can cause a difference in feel, especially when pushed to their very limits by riders as sensitive as Pedrosa.

The issue highlights just how close Honda are to a solution. One apparently tiny difference between machines, and the difference is massive, from a bike that is almost impossible to go fast on to a bike that has some chatter, but is still rideable. Casey Stoner told reporters at the test at Catalunya that progress had been made by switching out a “two-dollar part”. There aren’t that many two-dollar parts on the bike, which means that somewhere a bushing or a spacer or an insert could be part of the solution. It also means that small variations in two-dollar parts – not known for requiring massive precision in manufacturing – could also be part of the problem.

While Pedrosa faltered – through no fault of his own – Jorge Lorenzo made a massive step forward, reverting to the setup he used at Brno last year. Not quite the identical setup, but according to his team manager Wilco Zeelenberg, the same balance, weight distribution, ride height, spring stiffness as last year, more or less. The result was breathtaking, Lorenzo scorching around the Brno circuit to a new pole record, beating Valentino Rossi’s old mark from 2009 by well over a third of a second. The extra power of the 1000cc bikes helped, Lorenzo explained, giving the riders the power they need to help them up horsepower hill, the long section through turns 11 and 12, all the way back to the front straight.

Between Lorenzo and Pedrosa is Cal Crutchlow, the British rider posting his best qualifying position in MotoGP to add to the news that he had just signed a new contract with the Tech 3 team. His tactics appeared to have paid off; the bargaining and cajoling and flaunting other deals forced Yamaha, Monster and Tech 3 to come through, and improve the deal he was offered at Tech 3. Crutchlow said he had had plenty of deals to choose from: Gresini Honda had offered him a factory-spec RC213V, and “a manufacturer returning to the championship” – code for Suzuki, who will be coming back in 2014 – had also contacted him. In the end, staying with Yamaha was his best option, having been with the factory in one class or another for the past four years.

Heading up the second row is another brace of Yamahas, Ben Spies sitting in front of Andrea Dovizioso, making it four Yamahas in the top five. It could even have been an all-Yamaha front row, but a mistake on his two fastest laps meant Ben Spies sits just four thousandths of a second behind Pedrosa. All the talk at Spies’ media debrief was not of bikes, however, but of contracts: journalists had gotten wind of a Gresini offer to Spies, to stay in MotoGP, the same deal as was on the table for Crutchlow. There are good reasons for Spies to take the deal – and to get some help from Dorna. Spies would get a factory-spec RC213V, presumably with some backing from HRC, and help from Dorna keen to keep a competitive American in the series, a key consideration given there will be three US rounds in 2013.

But Spies is not the only rider in the frame for the Gresini Honda ride, however. Scott Redding is also rumored to be in talks with Gresini, and Redding would be a much more affordable option for the satellite Honda squad. Signing a British or American rider would see Gresini’s sponsor San Carlo reduce their support for the team, meaning a serious cash shortage in a team that is already complaining of being on a very tight budget. That money would have to come from somewhere; Scott Redding would be able to bring sufficient money to the team – a surprising small amount, by all accounts, while Ben Spies would expect to command a comfortable salary. Dorna’s income from TV rights could be the decisive factor; either way, MotoGP loses out, as both Spies and Redding are interesting prospects on the Honda.

One of the happiest riders of the day was Valentino Rossi. The bike had worked well, the team had found a decent setup and Rossi was surprisingly competitive. After Indy, Rossi had said he was looking forward to Brno as the Ducati went well there, and the Italian did not disappoint. Rossi has the pace to match what he refers to as the ‘second group’, in this case matching Ben Spies and Andrea Dovizioso, and maybe Cal Crutchlow if he pushes hard. The track seems to suit the Ducati; running wide is less of a problem at a track which is already massively wide, and the track turns right far more often than it turns left. Even the soft tire – traditionally Ducati’s bugbear, as it brings out the Desmosedici’s tendency to run wide by pushing the front even more – worked very well, both during free practice and during QP.

Rossi could score his best result in the dry at Brno, building on the confidence he gained from racing here last year. A local reporter asked him if the thought he was capable of winning here, given his illustrious history at the track – five wins and three seconds in the premier class – and Rossi smiled wryly. A win was out of the question, but a podium, a bonafide dry weather podium, that just might be possible. Next year, things might be very different though.

Next year and beyond was on the minds of all of the teams. On Saturday, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta presented his proposals to all of the independent team managers – the satellite and CRT teams – for the future of the sport. The idea is that in 2013 Dorna will make available free of charge a spec ECU from Magneti Marelli to any CRT team that wishes to use it. That ECU will be compulsory from 2014 onwards, along with a rev limit of 15,500 RPM (an extra 500 RPM was added, which appears to have been enough for Ducati to drop their opposition to it). The independent teams are in favor of the change, though there are naturally doubts as well.

LCR Honda boss told me “Looking selfishly, I want the advantage that Honda electronics give me, but from the other side, I also need to look at what is good for the sport and good for the show. MotoGP should be about emotion, adrenaline, excitement, we need to provide a better show.” Whether the factories are willing to accept such limitations remains to be seen. With Suzuki coming back, Ducati likely to accept the proposals, and BMW seriously considering the series, Carmelo Ezpeleta may be willing to risk gambling that the Japanese factory threats to walk are just posturing. It is a big gamble to take.

Photo: Ducati Corse

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

Comment:

  1. Rich Melaun says:

    I think you may have overlooked another major factor in “…the difference between identical prototypes.” The tires. Given the failures and other issues this year, I would suspect the rubber as much as the machine.

  2. Odie says:

    Ah, I feel bad for Pedrosa. He doesn’t exactly have the charisma that makes him a media darling, but he sure can ride. He hasn’t been my favorite rider, but I would like to see him score a MotoGP title. I thing he deserves one. I hope HRC can figure out what $2 part is the culprit and fix it. One goof from Jorge and he’s in like Flynn.

  3. MikeD says:

    “On Saturday, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta presented his proposals to all of the independent team managers – the satellite and CRT teams – for the future of the sport. The idea is that in 2013 Dorna will make available free of charge a spec ECU from Magneti Marelli to any CRT team that wishes to use it. That ECU will be compulsory from 2014 onwards, along with a rev limit of 15,500 RPM (an extra 500 RPM was added, which appears to have been enough for Ducati to drop their opposition to it). ”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    That’s just FANTASTIC ! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT !

    Fricking Dorna/Bald Headed Old Fart Speleta turning the Pinnacle of Motorcycle Racing into so LOW LIFE MUNDANE 2 WHEELED NASCAR…go eat a FAT ONE Man.

    Sorry, i don’t care for gray, watering down or middle ground measures…this whole thing can go down any day it pleases…GP Racing BLOWS.

  4. Westward says:

    Hmmm, I am guessing that Cal was not only given more money but a factory-spec M1 as well, to match the Gresini factory-spec RC213V offer. What’s interesting is, this could mean the end of satellite bikes but not satellite teams.

    Ducati has already stated that they would essentially field factory bikes to it’s junior team. Gresini has been playing with at least one factory honda even before the arrival of Simoncelli on their squad.

    If Suzuki returns and BMW joins the fray, that would account for 15 or 16 prototypes in MotoGP. Maybe Aprilia and Kawasaki may jump in too, to make it 19-20 bikes, and what place would the CRT’s have then…

    Still would like to see Spies in MotoGP…