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.

Sunday Summary at Brno: Three Great Races

08/26/2013 @ 11:45 am, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

Sunday Summary at Brno: Three Great Races marc marquez brno hrc

There must be something in the Moravian water. Three races at Brno on Sunday, and all three genuine barnburners. What’s more, the podiums had a good mixture of experience, age, and nationality.

Only five of the nine were Spanish, while in Moto2, there wasn’t a single Spaniard on the podium. And at the end, the championships in all three classes got a little more interesting.

Race of the day? Impossible to say, but the 2013 Czech Grand Prix will surely be remembered for the MotoGP race. After a tense race with a blistering finish last year, the 2013 race was even better.

A brilliant start by Jorge Lorenzo – perhaps the best of his career – saw him catapult into the lead at the start. He pushed to break the following group, consisting of Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow.

Crutchlow soon dropped off the back of the Repsol Hondas, got caught up in a battle with Alvaro Bautista, then crashed out when he upped the pace to attempt to catch Marquez and Pedrosa once again.

A red helmet appeared on the timing screens behind Crutchlow’s name in one sector of the track, and then it flashed “Crash #35, rider OK”.

“I lost the front but I was pushing. I’ve got nothing to lose and I needed to catch the guys as the front and I just pushed a little bit too much,” Crutchlow said. After a superb pole on Saturday, his race was one to forget.

The real excitement came at the front however, as Marquez chased Lorenzo down. The Repsol Honda rookie had tried to keep Lorenzo in sight at the start, but had struggled with a full tank, and having to fend off a hungry Pedrosa.

After a few laps Marquez picked up the pace. He closed Lorenzo down and started snapping at his heels, looking for a way past. It took him nearly seven laps, but eventually, Marquez found a way though, slipping his way masterfully up the inside of Lorenzo at Turn 3.

That was not part of Lorenzo’s plan, and he was not about to take it lying down. Lorenzo hung tough, held the outside line and exploited the better corner speed of the Yamaha, held station round the outside of Marquez. As they flicked back right again for Turn 4, Lorenzo firmly seized back the lead, in a display of clear and clean aggression.

His resistance would last for half a lap, Marquez chomping at the bit for a second chance. That came on the way back up the hill, at the Turn 11/12 combination. Marquez dived up the inside of Lorenzo again at 11, and this time closed the door firmly into 12, so firmly that Dani Pedrosa almost got past.

Lorenzo had no thought of surrender. Now it was his turn to snipe at Marquez, while simultaneously holding off the unwelcome advances of Pedrosa from behind. Lorenzo harassed Marquez for a lap and a half, before once again using the corner speed of the Yamaha to sweep through 13 and then swoop underneath at 14, retaking the lead from the young upstart.

His lead would not last long, as Marquez tried the same attack at Turn 3, this time holding a tighter line and sweeping back across the track and into Turn 4 more forcefully, leaving Lorenzo no alternative but to cede the position. Lorenzo’s fight was over, losing out to Dani Pedrosa a lap later.

Though tension had been building for six or seven laps, the race exploded for just four laps, before Marquez finally seized control. Those laps were a demonstration of just how extraordinary the top three are at the moment. Marquez’s first pass on Lorenzo was classic Turn 3 at Brno, hard and fast on the brakes.

Lorenzo’s defense of that pass, upping his corner speed to hang on to the position on the outside line, was one of the most tenacious and daring of recent years. Marquez’s second pass at Turn 3 showed just how quickly Marquez learns, adjusting his line to prevent Lorenzo from using the same trick to defend.

To catch the young Spaniard out, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi, whoever happens to get in his way, will have to invent new ways of attacking him, as each trick only works once.

Marquez’s victory means he breaks Kenny Roberts’s record of most wins in a rookie season, taking his total to five. He also becomes the first rider to win four races in a row since Valentino Rossi in 2008. He leads the championship by 26 points, and is one race clear of his teammate Dani Pedrosa.

He has 44 points over reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo, who is seeing the title slip slowly from his grasp. Marquez has passed from the remarkable to the phenomenal, to whatever it is that comes beyond that. Journalists writing about Marquez ran out of superlatives to describe him some time ago, and he just keeps on getting better. He is redefining the sport.

What can Jorge Lorenzo do to stop him? Lorenzo’s team manager Wilco Zeelenberg outlined their plan: try to put as much pressure on Marquez as they can, in the hope that he will make a mistake. So far, that plan has not had much success, Marquez appears to be immune to pressure. He keeps saying that even though he is leading the championship, there is no pressure on him to actually win it. Even if he crashed out of every race for the remainder of the season, he will still have had a phenomenal rookie year.

What Yamaha really need is more help, though Lorenzo would not be drawn into any overt criticism of the factory. They are “an unbelievable factory working 24 hours a day,” Lorenzo said. However, he also made it perfectly clear that he was happy that he could not have ridden any harder. The message was plain: the problem is not Jorge Lorenzo, the problem is the Yamaha.

Teammate Valentino Rossi concurred, though the Italian has extra problems to deal with. He and his team have still not found a solution to their braking problem, but that is more of a set up issue. The introduction of the seamless gearbox is the next step required, Rossi said, but they also need something to help with drive out of corners.

“We suffer a bit when we open the throttle compared to the Hondas,” Rossi said. That means a new frame to help create more grip, but doing that while retaining the ability to hold so much corner speed is a difficult balance.

Rossi also had a novel solution to stopping Marquez from dominating MotoGP for the next few years: “Maybe he will decide to change sports, and go and race in Formula 1,” the Italian joked. “I could give him some good advice,” he smiled.

The tense MotoGP race came after a scintillating Moto2 race which helped keep the championship tight. Mika Kallio was the perfect teammate to Scott Redding, demonstrating the reason the team keeps signing him up each year.

On a weekend when Redding was struggling with finding a working set up, Kallio runs at the front and wins the race, gaining useful publicity for the team, while also taking valuable points from Pol Espargaro.

Kallio turned up at Brno with a glint in his eye, and a determination not to be beaten. The 30-year-old Finn is always consistent, but sometimes he has that little bit extra which allows him to exceed himself.

Kallio’s victory was hard fought. Thomas Luthi was also on a charge, and looked at one point as if the race would be his, but Kallio seized control at the end to win the race. Takaaki Nakagami also came close to his first victory, a change of strategy starting to pay off for the Japanese rider.

For the first time, Nakagami worked on managing his tires, giving up on leading when he realized he couldn’t try to escape, and settling back into the leading group and trying to attack late in the game. He tried, but Kallio would have none of it.

Pol Espargaro took 4th, though he had to fight off a fierce Johann Zarco to hold on to it. Meanwhile, Scott Redding struggled to 8th, but given his history at the track – he has never scored points in Moto2 at the Brno circuit – an 8th place is not too bad. It also means that he only loses 5 points to Espargaro, and still leads the Spaniard by 21 points.

Both sides can claim a moral victory at Brno, and both sides are just as dedicated to beating each other as they have been all year. Their rivalry grows, as demonstrated by the fierce battle the two had early in the race. There really is a lot of racing still left for the Moto2 title this year.

Last race of the day was Moto3 – a peculiarity, and down to Bernie Ecclestone deciding to host the Belgian Formula One Grand Prix from the magnificent Spa Francorchamps circuit on the same day as Brno. In TV terms, F1 easily trumps MotoGP, and so the bikes had to make way for the cars.

The Moto3 race proved just as fascinating as the previous two races, and had an utterly deserved winner. Luis Salom won his fifth race of the season, in almost identical style to so many of his races this year. Wait until the end of the race, then force a pass, and then push on to destroy the people following him. It worked like a charm, and Salom further extended his championship lead over Maverick Viñales and Alex Rins.

The big surprise at Brno was the appearance of the Hondas. If the KTMs have one Achilles heel, it is their handling, the bikes being harder to turn than the Hondas and FTR Hondas currently left on the grid.

Jack Miller was fighting right at the front until his tire nearly fell apart and he found himself lapping four seconds a lap slower than he had been. But Alexis Masbou was also right at the front, finishing in 6th just 4.7 seconds off the winner. That is less than half the size the Hondas must cede to the KTMs at most tracks, the flowing nature of Brno working in the FTR Honda riders’ favor.

It is ironic that Honda should be dominating MotoGP so thoroughly, while in the cheapest class, the KTMs are blowing them away. Moto3′s cost-cutting formula may look good in theory, but in practice, KTM and Mahindra are selling factory-spec engines and chassis to the teams at a very high price, while Honda is sticking to the spirit of the rules and producing a bike down to a price.

Unfortunately for HRC, unless there is a revolution and a high-powered Moto3 engine on the horizon, they are about to learn that the spirit of the rules is a meaningless term in professional motorcycle racing. If they continue along that path, there could well be not a single Honda on the grid next year.

Photo: HRC

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

Comment:

  1. Cameron Ashby says:

    Hi David,

    Great reporting! You and Scott Jones are setting a few new standards as well. I thoroughly enjoy Asphalt and Rubber!

  2. BDP says:

    I’ll say it now, Marq is the real deal with these moves and control. He is ‘beating’ phenomenal racers. Didn’t expect this so soon. Pure talent and aggression slotted into a championship winning team and bike = success. Simple.

  3. Joe says:

    these days all I hear from rossi is whining after whining, excuses after excuses, stupid jokes and kissing Marquez’s arse comments. No wonder Jorge wasn’t afraid when rossi resigned with Yamaha. Jorge knew he would whoop rossi’s arse just like before rossi left for ducati.

  4. Stevnk27 says:

    I hope I wake up tomorrow in a dream world tomorrow where Yamah has given Rossi the boot for performance below expectations and then employs Pedrosa who was booted for similar reasons from HRC(7 years and no title on arguably the best bike on the grid is dismal).
    In this dream world HRC offers Stoner $50M(or however much it will take) to return and we have Ducati suddenly finding miraculous pace to match HRC and Yamaha.
    We then have these 6 factory riders all dogging it for wins, my money would still be on Stoner though although I am biased.

    Anyway for now the racing we have will have to do, 4 great racing laps out of 27 just doesn’t cut it for me though and the new rules being brought in all the time is not going to sort anything out either.

    Great article btw.

  5. smiler says:

    The fact that the author mentions as being good that the podiums were not all Spanish is testament to the sorry state of the Spanish run championship.

    In not other sport of motorsport do Spanish competitors enjoy the same level of success.

  6. “In not other sport of motorsport do Spanish competitors enjoy the same level of success.”

    In no other sport are there so many breeder series to bring Spaniards up to the top. People keep bitching about all the Spaniards, but they get the rides because they’re better. They get more experience than just about any other riders out there.

    The ‘sorry state’ is just because your country hasn’t produced world champion-level riders in a long, long time. I don’t think mine ever has. I know Mike Duff (now Michelle) finished runner up in 1965 ….