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.

Fuel or Electronics? Where Are Nicky Hayden & Scott Redding Losing Out on the Honda RCV1000R?

The news that Honda would be building a production racer to compete in MotoGP aroused much excitement among fans. There was much speculation over just how quick it would be, and whether it would be possible for a talented rider to beat the satellite bikes on some tracks. In the hands of active MotoGP riders, the gap was around 2 seconds at the Sepang tests. Nicky Hayden – of whom much had been expected, not least by himself – had made significant improvements, especially on corner entry. The difference in performance and the big gap to the front has been cause for much speculation. Where are the Honda production racers losing out to the Factory Option bikes?

Sunday Summary at Misano: An Imperious Lorenzo, Rookie Mistakes, & Remembering Shoya

09/16/2013 @ 9:00 am, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

Sunday Summary at Misano: An Imperious Lorenzo, Rookie Mistakes, & Remembering Shoya jorge lorenzo motogp misano yamaha racing 635x952

If half a second is a long time around Misano, seven tenths of a second is almost a geological era. Jorge Lorenzo was lacking grip and braking stability on Saturday; on Sunday morning, Ramon Forcada stiffened the front to improve Lorenzo’s braking, and the factory Yamaha man crushed the opposition in the warm up.

Four hours later, the reigning world champion did exactly the same again in the race, destroying his rivals in the first three laps, and holding on for a victory that was both overwhelming and important.

The first three laps? Lorenzo probably won the race in the first 100 meters off the line. Lorenzo had fluffed his practice starts on Saturday, bogging down and not really getting off the line.

On Sunday, he was so fast away off the line that he had two bike lengths before he had even changed up into second gear. By the time he crossed the timing line at the end of the first sector, he was already 0.4 seconds ahead. By the end of the first lap, he was 1.2 seconds ahead. It was already game over.

There was the small matter of the remaining 27 laps, of course, but Lorenzo controlled the race imperiously. Every time one of the Repsol Hondas chasing him got a little closer, Lorenzo responded, upping his pace to match either Dani Pedrosa or Marc Marquez, depending on who was leading the chase.

The gap climbed to three seconds, dropped to two seconds, climbed again to four before Lorenzo crossed the line nearly three and a half seconds ahead of Marquez. It had been a typically Lorenzian performance, ruling the race with an iron fist, crushing the opposition before it even had a chance to consider trying to put up a fight.

Of course, this was the first race Yamaha had used its seamless gearbox, so could Lorenzo’s revival be attributed in any way to the new transmission? “This was a seamless victory,” Wilco Zeelenberg, Lorenzo’s team manager joked, before adding that he didn’t think it had played that much of a role. “He won the last race at Silverstone without the seamless,” Zeelenberg pointed out.

“I think he would have made the gap also without the seamless, but at the end of the race, it was also clear that he could do still 34 low, and even with a bit more tire wear at the end maybe Marc and Dani could have caught him if they were pushing. But I don’t know, I can’t answer.”

In short, the seamless gearbox may have helped Lorenzo maintain his advantage at the end, but that wasn’t why Lorenzo won the race. “We were lucky to have full grip straight away, while the rest struggled with that, so I think that was the key to break the first three four five laps and make a gap.”

The other factor that helped Lorenzo win were the mistakes made by Marc Marquez as he chased. Marquez got a mediocre start, and then struggled through the first few laps with a full fuel tank. As he started planning his attack on Dani Pedrosa, who had got a start almost as good as Jorge Lorenzo’s from the second row, Marquez ran wide and allowed Valentino Rossi through.

He was soon back in front of the Italian, and ready for another attack on Pedrosa. He got past his Repsol teammate, but Pedrosa still had plenty of fight left in him, making Marquez’s life difficult for the following five laps. Those who have accused Pedrosa of not being willing to take risks and put up a fight were shown the errors of their ways, Pedrosa’s passes on Marquez as hard and clean as any Marquez put on him.

In the end, though, Pedrosa could hang on no longer. A lack of edge grip had troubled the Spaniard all weekend, and it left him powerless to resist in the fast corners. After a mistake he lost touch with Marquez, and was left to ride his own race. With Bridgestone bringing a new tire for the riders to test on Monday, aimed at improving exactly this area, perhaps Pedrosa can get back in the fight. “If we can improve edge grip, maybe we can win races again,” Pedrosa had said after the race.

Marquez was unapologetic about the mistakes he had made after the race, pointing out that this was his first season in MotoGP – something which is easy to forget, as he breaks record after record, extending his record string of rookie podiums to twelve at Misano – and that making mistakes is what rookies do. That is how they learn, and given the rate at which Marquez is progressing, it must strike fear into the hearts of the opposition.

Valentino Rossi rode home to a lonely fourth, for the fourth race in a row. Looking, if not quite dejected, then certainly disappointed, Rossi explained once again that he is still struggling with the same problem, being able to brake the way he wants to and then get the bike turned. Braking stability is probably the Yamaha’s biggest weakness at the moment, but Lorenzo’s style disguises it best, braking early and smoothly, then releasing the brake early to carry as much corner speed as possible.

But the fact that Lorenzo is complaining of the same issue as Rossi, who likes to brake late, deep, and then pivot the bike on the front wheel, shows that it is Yamaha’s highest priority right now. Rossi had hoped for a podium at his home race, and had been pleased he had matched the pace of the top three throughout the weekend, and was disappointed not to get on the box in the race. “Starting on the front row we expected a podium,” he said. But the podium had not come.

Behind Rossi, Stefan Bradl was happy to take fifth from Cal Crutchlow, after stalking him all race long. Both men had known almost from the start of the race that the outcome was inevitable, Crutchlow telling reporters that he knew the Honda is better in braking, and that Bradl would get past at some point. Bradl, in turn, knew that he could pass Crutchlow, but also knew he could not go any faster once he did.

Instead of trying to push and using up his front tire, Bradl elected instead to play it safe, striking on the last lap to take fifth spot. Crutchlow, in turn, was not too unhappy at having finished sixth, after a run of difficult weekends. In response to queries whether he had officially got his mojo back, Crutchlow was cagey.

Misano was one of his best races in terms of racecraft, the Tech 3 man admitted, as he hadn’t made a single mistake all race. He had lapped consistently faster in the race than he had during practice, and was happy he had been able to maintain that rhythm comfortably. It may be the first steps on his road to recovery.

Lorenzo’s win at Misano may not have broken open the championship once again, but it does make a rookie title for Marquez look a bit less inevitable. Lorenzo had achieved the objective he had set for himself, taking points back from Marquez to keep reducing the gap. The objective of the team was now simple, team manager Wilco Zeelenberg said. “We have to wait and see if we can extend the fight to prevent him from being champion before Valencia. Then in Valencia, anything can happen.”

Pol Espargaro’s race in Moto2 demonstrated exactly that. After giving away points to Scott Redding at Silverstone and losing some of the momentum he had gained at Mugello, the Spaniard struck back to great effect at Misano. While Takaaki Nakagami got away at the start early, and looked well on his way to his first ever Moto2 race win – that will surely come very soon now – Espargaro bided his time, held on to his rhythm, then pushed at the end to catch and then pass the Japanese rider.

He went on to take a convincing win, while Redding struggled with the group behind the top three, crossing the line in sixth. With the win, Espargaro cut Redding’s advantage back from 38 points to 23. ‘In Silverstone I thought the title was impossible,’ Espargaro said. ‘Now, with five points every race I can be champion.’

The most poignant moment of the weekend came at the end of the Moto2 race. While the Misano circuit is surrounded with tributes to Marco Simoncelli, the local boy who died in Sepang and is beloved and honored by fans around the world, Nakagami stopped his bike close to the spot where Shoya Tomizawa was killed in 2010, and picked up a tribute flag.

Clearly in tears, he rode around honoring the memory of his fallen compatriot, overcome by emotion, and passing on that emotion to all he watched. ‘Shoya helped me,’ Nakagami said of the race afterwards, expressing his feeling that Tomizawa had been with him as he raced. There had been small scale celebrations of Tomizawa’s life at the circuit, with the Technomag team, who Tomizawa was riding for at the time of his death, having a remembrance wall inside their hospitality.

Tomizawa was a charming, talented, lovable young man, and the first ever winner of a Moto2 race. Nakagami’s tribute was a touching tribute to the cheery Japanese youngster who lost his life. It was a nice and timely reminder that all those who die while racing live on in the hearts and memories of the fans who watched them, and who they gave such pleasure to.

Misano is a wonderful location, near the beach, below the fairy tale republic of San Marino, at the heart of Italian motorcycle racing. But it is also a place tinged with tragedy, the track where Shoya Tomizawa died, where Wayne Rainey’s career was ended when his spine was damaged, and named after Marco Simoncelli, a young man who died on foreign soil.

It is a reminder of both the glory and the tragedy which motorcycle racing is capable of producing.

Photo: Yamaha Racing

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

Comment:

  1. Norm G. says:

    re: “Of course, this was the first race Yamaha had used its seamless gearbox, so could Lorenzo’s revival be attributed in any way to the new transmission? “This was a seamless victory,” Wilco Zeelenberg, Lorenzo’s team manager joked, before adding that he didn’t think it had played that much of a role. “He won the last race at Silverstone without the seamless,” Zeelenberg pointed out.”

    exactly. the can o’ whoop ass would’ve opened regardless. the tight circuit misano-simo remains an M1 track for the time being.

  2. JW says:

    I agree for this race Lorenzo indeed opened up the can.. He will need to get 1st place every race and Marco 2nd’s and one third in order to pull it off if my math is correct..

  3. Smitchell says:

    Marquez, please win most of the remaining races and spare us Lorenzo’s childish celebrations.

  4. Minibull says:

    @Robin: How bloody disgusting of you.

  5. B-Ry says:

    @Minibull: +1 on that.

  6. Jimbo says:

    @ MiniBull @B-Ry: +2 on that.

  7. robin says:

    god… i was being sarcastic to the fact that few shoya tributes on the very track he lost his life

    lesson learnt: never comment on ‘normal websites’ right after browsing tumblr/memebase/4chan