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.

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.

MotoGP: Saturday at Estoril Round-Up: On Sunday Looking Good For Some Racing

05/05/2012 @ 10:12 pm, by David EmmettComments Off

MotoGP: Saturday at Estoril Round Up: On Sunday Looking Good For Some Racing 2012 Portuguese GP Estoril Saturday Scott Jones 111

The rain, which has been chasing motorcycle races around this season, finally got bored and moved off on Saturday, giving the track at Estoril a chance to dry. The final corner, which proved so treacherous on Friday, was greatly improved – and made even better by the addition of a cone on the inside of Turn 13, marking where the wet patches were so the riders could take a line inside them. But the wet patches were still there, with water apparently seeping up from the ground to be sucked to the surface. The repairs to the track had been half the problem; the new asphalt was still so fresh that the bitumen was sucking up water from below. Not a lot the track can do about such a problem, and rather cruel to be punished for trying to fix the track in the first place.

While their resurfacing attempts may not have paid off as intended, the circuit management’s bargain basement approach to ticket pricing made a huge difference. The track was busier on a Saturday than any time I have ever been here, with many fans deciding that for the price of a tank of gas and a cheap hotel, they would head for Estoril. With tickets selling for between 2 euros for the cheapest single-day entrance to 20 euros for a three-day grandstand pass, the entertainment is also a little limited. Jumbotrons around the track are few and far between, the only one I have seen has been opposite the main grandstand. But for 2 euros, and with some great seating around Estoril, who is going to complain?

It will be interesting to see what effect the ticket prices has when the official numbers are released on Sunday. If cheap prices bring a lot of people to the track – who will still be spending their money in the local bars, hotels and restaurants – then the gains to the local economy could well outweigh the losses made by the track.

Though their view may have been limited to what they could actually see on the track, the fans got their money’s worth on Saturday. In Moto3, Sandro Cortese pulled a major gap with the factory KTM, finishing three tenths ahead of Maverick Viñales on the FTR Honda, who was in turn four tenths quicker than local boy Miguel Oliveira. Only the top 5 were within a second of each other, last weekend’s winner and Italian teenage sensation Romano Fenati finishing 6th, just over a second slower than Cortese.

But the gaps are not necessarily representative of the real situation in Moto3: All day long, Oliveira featured either at or close to the top of the timesheets. If there was one rider you were going to bet on to win on Sunday, it would be the Portuguese rider, Oliveira clearly dead set on a victory in front of the last home crowd he will see for a while. Cortese will be as fast as he always is, Viñales will be up at the front as is expected of a Championship favorite, and Fenati is not so far off that he could not also join in the fun. But Oliveira looks for all the world like he is going to pull something special out of the bag come race day.

In Moto2, Marc Marquez rules the roost as ever, while Thomas Luthi is right after him. While Marquez and Luthi can be expected to be scrapping for the lead, a close group consisting of Scott Redding, last week’s victor Pol Espargaro, 125cc runner up Johann Zarco, Andrea Iannone, Julian Simon – happy now that he is back on a Suter, a bike he knows much better than the FTR he had – Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis. The race is shaping up to be the usual Moto2 thriller, with the usual suspects set to duke it out. Iannone is back at the front after disappearing in mid-pack last week, further proof that though Crazy Joe, as his team call him, has plenty of talent, a touch of consistency would not go amiss. And it is gratifying to see both Julian Simon and Nico Terol further forward. For Simon, it is mainly a question of confidence, while Terol seems to be getting slowly up to speed on a four stroke.

Simon’s chassis switch shows the importance – whether psychological or real – of being comfortable with the bike you are using. Further down the order – much further down the order – former World Supersport star Gino Rea is suffering with the Moriwaki, alongside teammate Ratthapark Wilairot. Wilairot was a regular top ten rider last year on an FTR, but has dropped 15 places or so since joining Gresini on the Moriwaki. With development of the Japanese chassis seemingly stalled – Rea posted good times during preseason testing, but went backwards as the others went faster – Gresini is rumored to be ready to drop Moriwaki in favor of Suter. That, rumor has it, was the Italian’s second choice, forced upon them after Kalex refused to supply extra bikes. It will be interesting to see whether a different chassis can change the fortunes in the Gresini garage.

In MotoGP, it is looking like a Honda runaway. Casey Stoner isn’t happy with his setup, but that did not stop him from getting the first pole at Estoril of his career. Dani Pedrosa is close beside him, and despite an electrical problem – apparently a genuine electrical problem, not one caused by the con rods smashing through the crankcases and preventing the alternator from working, as has happened in previous years – the Spaniard is looking on top form. Stoner’s chest infection is clearing up, but question marks remain over his arm pump, with Stoner once again saying that the pressure during practice is never sufficient to cause his arms to pump up.

Third on the grid, and his second front row appearance in the three qualifying sessions so far, is Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow. The British rider is on fire so far this year, and has the same number of front row appearances as 2010 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. New tires, bigger bikes, a year’s experience have all helped, but what has really lit a fire in his belly has been the arrival of Andrea Dovizioso as his teammate. That has only enlarged the chip Crutchlow already has on his shoulder, and further distrust of the brakes he has been forced to use has made things even worse. In reality, Crutchlow’s brakes can’t be that bad, as he is currently matching the pace of the aliens in front of him. Crutchlow is getting closer and closer to his debut podium, and Estoril is as good a chance as any.

Though Crutchlow may be the fastest of the Yamahas on the grid, that does not necessarily mean he is the fastest in actual race pace. Ben Spies’ qualifying practice was marred by traffic, finding himself being balked three times during the session. His race pace is much better, and close to the pace of the Hondas. With a good start, Spies should be able to run with the Hondas, or at least give them a run for their money.

The other factory Yamaha is struggling, Jorge Lorenzo still having problem with the rear of his M1. The back wheel is blocking on corner entry, making it impossible to get corner entry right and carry the speed that is the strong point of the Yamaha. Lorenzo is disappointed, and hoping for improvement on Sunday morning before he race.

Over at Ducati, Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi are cautiously optimistic. The new setup Rossi has switched to based on Hayden’s settings, has worked out rather well. Rossi can now once again brake and enter the corner much more as he did previously. That is obvious from trackside, where the Italian looks a lot more confident under braking. There are still problems, however: the rear of the bike is still an issue, with the Ducati losing acceleration in a straight line. New parts are to be tested on Monday, though only chassis parts and a new electronics package. The engine upgrades – needed to smooth power delivery – look like taking significantly longer.

The qualifying session was briefly interrupted by a red flag, after Colin Edwards was knocked off his bike by Randy de Puniet, who crashed while on a hot lap. Edwards broke his collarbone and suffered a concussion, but was fortunately further unhurt. The Texan flies to Barcelona on Monday to get surgery, and after that, he is free to go. The media center has started a pool on when Edwards would make a return from injury. But the number of people betting that Edwards would be back at Le Mans in two weeks’ time massively outweighs those willing to lay money against it. Edwards is one tough cookie, and is not so easy to keep away from the track. Whether he is being wise or not, you have to admire his grit and determination.

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.

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