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 Laguna Seca: Of Surprise Front Rows, Record Books, & Qualifying Shake-Ups

07/21/2013 @ 8:57 am, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

Saturday Summary at Laguna Seca: Of Surprise Front Rows, Record Books, & Qualifying Shake Ups Stefan Bradl Pole position MotoGP Laguna Seca Scott Jones 635x423

After free practice at Laguna Seca, things looked pretty well sewn up. Marc Marquez was on another planet, with his fourth pole position a mere formality. Alongside him on the front row would be Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi, with Crutchlow looking like having the stronger pace after free practice, while Rossi possessing more sheer outright speed. The rest? Well, they were irrelevant, and would be even more so once qualifying had proved the pundits right.

Only it didn’t quite work out that way. A hectic and eventful qualifying saw Stefan Bradl take his first ever pole position, ahead of Marc Marquez and another surprise package in Alvaro Bautista. Rossi and Crutchlow were left on the second row, just ahead of the walking wounded pair of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, the Repsol Honda rider heading up the third row.

Both Bradl and Bautista have excelled at Laguna Seca so far, Bradl showing more speed, but Bautista posting a ferocious and competitive race pace. The success of the two is surprising, and wagging tongues in the paddock attribute their sudden burst of speed to the fact that both their seats are currently being widely discussed as being up for grabs for fast and competitive riders. Bradl, it is said, is likely to be moved aside to accommodate Cal Crutchlow, while Bautista could be dropped in favor of Nicky Hayden.

The two satellite Honda riders defended their seats in the most forceful way possible on Saturday. Bautista had been quick all weekend, his best laps keeping him just out of the headlines, but running a consistent pace in the low 1’22s which should be good enough to run at the very front during the race. Bradl took the honor of being the first ever German to secure a pole position, writing his name in the history books alongside his former Moto2 rival Marc Marquez.

Though Bradl’s new record was entirely deserved, there is the merest hint of a shadow hanging over it. As Spanish journalist Juan Pedro de la Torre of Motoworld pointed out, a German may have started from pole before.

In 1974, at the German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring, a race boycotted by all except a few local riders over safety concerns after the death of Rob Fitton, the race was won by the German privateer Edmund Czihak.

Whether he started from pole or not is unknown: the grid consisted of seven riders, who took their places based on the order in which they exited the paddock and arrived on the grid. No practice times were recorded, and so we cannot say for certain whether a German rider has taken pole before.

But Bradl’s pole cannot be compared to the weird times from an era when rider safety was a disgrace. The LCR Honda man posted his pole time up against the full MotoGP field, with little help from anyone else. It was one of the best laps of his career, he said afterwards, and a particular pleasure to have posted it on a MotoGP machine.

Where has the sudden success of Bradl and Bautista come from? Both men are hindered by their equipment. Bradl dropped Nissin brakes in favor of the paddock-standard Brembos, and though the difference is minimal – the Brembo brake pads disengage from the disks fractionally faster than the Nissins do – it is just enough to make the difference at the MotoGP level.

Bradl has been improving slowly in his second year, but once the LCR Honda team switch away from the Nissin brakes, he has been able to capitalize. Bautista is using both the Nissins and Showa suspension, and as the only rider using Showa, is spending all his time developing and little time actually working from a base set up.

With little data to go on, Bautista and his Gresini crew sometimes get it right, but most, they are just wide of the mark. When they get it right, they are bang on the money, and Bautista is right back at the front.

Those wishing to quibble would point to a host of other factors – Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa both being injured, Marc Marquez crashing during qualifying, Cal Crutchlow having mechanical problems, Valentino Rossi still struggling with setup – but as the saying goes, to finish first, first you must finish. Bradl and Bautista turned up on the day, and only Marquez had any kind of answer.

Marquez himself suffered a crash during his second run in qualifying, just as he was going for a second fast lap. He said he felt he had not pushed hard enough during the first lap, and so tried going a little bit faster. He got the balance just wrong, and ended up in the gravel, his qualification over.

It is rather odd to describe Marquez’s qualifying performance as ‘disappointing’, given that he had never ridden the track until taking the scooter round on Thursday. Marquez had learned the track in double quick time, setting the 3rd fastest time in FP1, before topping the timesheets in the rest of the sessions.

The Repsol Honda rookie’s race pace is positively blistering, and only his overconfidence caught him out during qualifying. Suitably chastened, it is hard to see who can stay with the Spaniard come Sunday.

If anyone can challenge the supremacy of Marquez, it will be either Cal Crutchlow or Valentino Rossi. Though both Bautista and Bradl are fast and consistent, they are still just a whisker off the pace of the two Yamaha men. Crutchlow looks the strongest, despite a terrible qualifying session. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider crashed during FP4, then had a faulty suspension sensor on his other machine.

His crash in FP4 was a completely mystery, he said. He fell in Turn 3, immediately after exiting he pits. The crash was spectacular, but happened at relatively low speed. That should not have caused the crash, Crutchlow insisted, and his body language after the crash seemed to corroborate that. Where riders often betray frustration or anger, some sign that they know they are in part to blame, Crutchlow showed nothing but confusion and disbelief.

The faulty sensor meant he only got a single shot at setting a time, and he was happy to bag a second row start. Crutchlow’s faulty sensor – with faulty data coming back from the rear shock, the ECU cannot apply power and anti-wheelie correctly – goes to underline just how dominant the role of electronics are on these bikes. The electronics do not make them any easier to ride – the limit just gets pushed up further, and is just as difficult to exploit – but they do require a full working complement of sensors and controllers in order to function correctly.

There are three great unknowns on the grid, one due to set up, the other two due to injury. Valentino Rossi showed that he had the pace to match the front runners on Saturday morning, but the factory Yamaha man only qualified in fourth place.

The Italian is still struggling with a braking issue, and with a sliding rear as the tire starts to wear, it is a ‘simple matter of weight distribution’, an unpleasant phrase which belies the complexity of the challenge. If Rossi, Jeremy Burgess and his crew can get the problem solved on Sunday morning, Rossi will be right at the pointy end. If they can’t, Rossi will have to improvise.

The biggest questions of all hang over the performance of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. Both men are injured, with collarbones hurting badly, yet the two title favories are 6th and 7th on the grid. Of the two, Jorge Lorenzo appears to be in better shape, though his collarbone is much more painful than it was at Assen.

The Yamaha man rode in every session of practice, though he took it easy in the morning sessions, taking care not to push on a cold track. Lorenzo’s pace is good enough for a top five, and the man himself said his goal was to try to get past a couple of riders early in the race and then manage from there.

Dani Pedrosa appears to be in slightly worse shape, though he is much better than feared. Pedrosa skipped both morning sessions, preferring to save his strength for the afternoons. His caution meant that he he was forced to go through both sessions of qualifying, though his progress from Q1 to Q2 was a mere formality.

Pedrosa said he felt better on the second day than he had on Friday, and so learning to manage the pain is the most important factor. Both Pedrosa and Lorenzo will have injections on Sunday, and try to hang on until the end of the race. It is likely to be a war of attrition between the two championship candidates, a battle of who can withstand the pain for longest.

On the basis of history, you’d have to say it was Jorge Lorenzo, but any points he does claw back are likely to be insignificant.

With so many factors in play, Sunday’s race looks like being a fascinating one. Marquez may look like the favorite, but having Bradl and Bautista as wildcards on the front of the grid means all bets are off.

The front row is reminiscent of the time when there were still qualifying tires, and a strong, brain-out lap could put a rider much further up the grid than he belongs. That helped make the racing exciting, and that reason alone is justification to bring back super-soft qualifying rubber. The same riders might win, but at least they would have to fight for it.

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. smiler says:

    Well as Bautista is up front we can expect at least one accident.

  2. kev71 says:

    Anyone wanna bet Bautista crashes trying to keep the pace? Better question is: “Who will Bautista knock out of the race with him?”

  3. kev71 says:

    @smiler

    Same thought at the same time

  4. JW says:

    If the field behind Alvero and Bradle can get safe passage.. I’m thinking
    1) MM
    2) CC
    3) VR

  5. L2C says:

    Yeah, Alvaro seems to get amped beyond his senses at the start of races. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen today.

    Wishing a great and safe race to all!

  6. You guys should really do an open thread post for comments during the race, you know engage your readers on a more immediate level.