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.

MotoGP: Thursday at Estoril Round-Up: On Stoner’s Non-Retirement, Rossi’s Chances at Yamaha, & Riding New Bikes

05/04/2012 @ 1:37 am, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Thursday at Estoril Round Up: On Stoners Non Retirement, Rossis Chances at Yamaha, & Riding New Bikes 2012 Spanish GP Jerez Sunday Scott Jones 9

For most of the groups inside the MotoGP paddock, this final visit to Estoril for the Portuguese Grand Prix is tinged with sadness. Everyone loves this place, except for arguably the most important group of individuals present: the riders. The track is too tight for a MotoGP bike, especially the tight uphill chicane that follows a couple of corners after the back straight, and the many surfaces of Estoril make it very difficult to cope with. But for anyone who doesn’t actually have to ride the track, Estoril is wonderful. Teams and journalists either stay in the beautiful seaside resort of Cascais, or else in the magical town of Sintra, up the mountain overlooking the Portuguese circuit. As far as ambiance is concerned, the Portuguese round of MotoGP is very hard to beat.

Unfortunately for the Estoril circuit and the many fans it has in the paddock, this is the last time we will be coming here for the foreseeable future. The state of the Portuguese economy, combined with the fact that this is one of the least attended races of the season means that it is just not viable for the time being, especially not as the circuit really needs resurfacing. In a last-ditch effort to attract as many people as possible to the Grand Prix, the circuit organizers have slashed prices by quite an astonishing level. The cheapest ticket for the weekend? 2 euros. The most expensive? 20 euros for a three-day pass and the best seating. There are several circuits where you could spend ten times that much on a ticket. A bit of judicious googling for hotels and flights and you could come to the Portuguese GP for just the cost of entry for another European round.

The reasons for the bargain-basement prices are simple: with Estoril scheduled just a week after the Jerez GP, the timing could not really be worse. Both races are within easy driving distance of anyone in the west of Spain and the southern half of Portugal, but in the crisis-stricken economies of both Spain and Portugal, people simply cannot afford to visit both races, which they might otherwise have done. Faced with fans who either have virtually no money to enter, or who have already spent much of it at Jerez last week, Estoril had little choice but to slash its prices. Even the journalists have benefited: internet access in the media center, which at most Southern European tracks costs upwards of 50 euros, costs just 15 euros at Estoril, a very reasonable amount, although it remains odd that the journalists sent to cover the race and promote the event should be asked to contribute towards its costs.

Apart from a shared sense of sadness at not returning to Estoril for a while, the main topic of conversation at Estoril has been the rumors concerning the two men who have come to dominate media coverage of MotoGP: Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi. Most discussion focused on the reports of Stoner’s imminent retirement which emerged in the Spanish press earlier this week. The reports were flatly denied by Stoner during the press conference, and almost laughed off by the Australian.

He reiterated his intention to stay in the series until he stopped enjoying racing, but would not be drawn on how long that might be. A few years at most, it seems, with Stoner now looking to sign one-year contracts until he retires, giving him more freedom to choose the moment he steps away from the series himself. But nobody expects Stoner to still be racing as he approaches his 40th birthday.

Much speculation also revolved around the source of the story around Stoner’s retirement. Some paddock insiders felt sure the source was Italian, though others swore that it had to be Spanish, given that it had first appeared in the Spanish magazine Solo Moto. Whatever the provenance of the story, it turned out to completely incorrect, with Stoner summing it up succinctly: “Everybody’s good at producing stories in this championship. I’m surprised anyone believes anything, really.”

There is also much debate about what is to become of Valentino Rossi, with journalists grilling everybody and anybody connected to either Honda or Yamaha about Rossi’s options for returning to a Japanese factory. Very few people are willing to say anything on the record, though a few are more forthcoming off the record. The consensus appears to be that Rossi’s only realistic options are either to go to a factory team or to set up a team for himself.

The satellite teams might welcome the money Rossi would bring, but they would not welcome the disruption: putting together a strong satellite effort such as Gresini, Tech 3 or LCR takes many years, carefully assembling the best (and most affordable) technicians when they become available. As a satellite team, signing Rossi would mean firing most of the staff that you have spent all those years putting together, to make way for Rossi’s hand-picked and trusted staff, only to have them all leave after 1 or 2 years. A satellite team could be gutted of talent by Rossi, a rather ironic state of affairs.

As for the factory rides, Honda has pretty well excluded a return for the Italian, HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto telling GPOne.com that it was time for Rossi to prove that it really was all about the rider and not the machine. Yamaha seems marginally more open to a Rossi return, though even there the likelihood is very close to zero. There is still one camp inside Yamaha that would like to see the Italian come back to Yamaha, but their numbers are diminishing. The decision by Yamaha management to back Jorge Lorenzo as the future for the factory has paid off, despite losing the Championship to Casey Stoner last year. The factories – both Yamaha and Honda – believe that their ambitions for the MotoGP Championship can only be realized if they have either of Casey Stoner or Jorge Lorenzo on their bikes. While there are very few paddock insiders who doubt that Rossi could win races on either a Yamaha or Honda, there are even fewer who believe he could challenge Lorenzo or Stoner for the title.

For the moment, Rossi is stuck at Ducati, and this weekend they will be following the path started at Jerez, and using what Rossi is describing as a more “Ducati set up.” Rossi characterized this as “long and low” instead of the “short and high” set up he had used throughout his Yamaha career. The “long and low” set up seemed to give him the corner entry confidence he had been missing with the more Yamaha-like “short and high” set up he and his crew had been pursuing for much of his time at Ducati. The problem with that set up is on corner exit, where the excessive horsepower – the number being bandied about by the uncalibrated dyno used in the press room puts the number in the region of 280hp – causes more problems.

The real solution is to reduce horsepower, but that is something that cannot be achieved easily. Power can be cut using the electronics, but that still leaves the aggressive power delivery of the high-revving (and probably under capacity) Ducati GP12. Such a change will have to wait for a few more weeks.

But Rossi is not the only rider struggling with a different bike. Andrea Dovizioso is also still trying to figure out how to get the best out of the Yamaha, but at Jerez, the Italian said, he believed he had made an important discovery while following Cal Crutchlow. With the Honda, Dovizioso said, what was key was exploiting the Honda’s strength in corner exit, and his riding style had been based around that. The Yamaha, on the other hand, required you to focus on braking and corner entry, carrying speed through the corner to minimize the damage on the way out of the turn. With that lesson in mind, Dovizioso’s aim was to working on changing the style he had learned in all his years on a Honda MotoGP bike.

After so many years, it is not easy. Just ask Valentino Rossi.

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.

Comment:

  1. Adam says:

    280Hp?? really? my goodness.

  2. Westward says:

    “The decision by Yamaha management to back Jorge Lorenzo as the future for the factory has paid off, despite losing the Championship to Casey Stoner last year.” —

    Really?

    In 2010, there were only four pilots likely to win races and therefore the Championship title as well. Two of the four went down to injury that kept them from competing, and one had crashed out of five races. Those scenarios put three out of the four possible winners out of contention for 1oo or more points in the championship. Leaving the only one, who did not crash (be it pilot error or machine), or get seriously injured, as the only candidate available to win, which he did, and was the remaining likely contender through attrition. That happened to be Lorenzo.

    2011 rolls around, and the same four are still likely to win the championship. The crasher of 2010 is now on a bike that is less likely to do so and is immediately pegged to win the title. One of the injured from the previous season needs surgery after the first race, and then goes down to injury again later in the year under controversial circumstances. While the other wounded pilot of 2010 is at the tail end of his recovery, and is on a new bike that is suspect to begin with. Not to mention, after it was obvious who was going to win the title, the decision that “paid off” the season before, sat out of the waning races due to a hand injury…

    If Lorenzo does not win the title this year. I seriously doubt the phrase “paid off” applies. Especially since sponsorship money is not exactly flowing in like water as it was when Rossi was there…

    “Paid Off,” is a suspect and relative term in these circumstances…

  3. Damo says:

    @Westward

    I would say that is harsh, but I am not a huge Jorge fan. All valid points though, sometimes the truth is bitter medicine.

  4. Dc4go says:

    280 HP!!! Wow no wonder that bike has handling issues at the moment.. Go Nicky go!!

  5. tat2gaz says:

    @westward ,well put.

  6. rt says:

    @Westward Even if jorge doesn’t attract any major sponsors he takes a modest salary and wins races unlike a certain some1.

  7. Halfie 30 says:

    @rt. Did you say Jorge gets paid modestly!? Last time I checked Yahmaha wanted to slash half of Rossi’s earnings to keep Jorge. He no longer makes a “modest” amount of money with Rossi’s cap cleared.