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.

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.

Sunday Summary at Valencia: Of Marquez’s Talent, Pedrosa’s Gamble, Lorenzo’s Crash, & A Debt Left Open

11/12/2012 @ 3:30 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

Sunday Summary at Valencia: Of Marquezs Talent, Pedrosas Gamble, Lorenzos Crash, & A Debt Left Open Valencian GP MotoGP Sunday Scott Jones 131

So the 2012 MotoGP season is over, and someone with a great deal of courage and a little bit of money to wager could have ended the year rich beyond their wildest dreams at Valencia. If you could have found someone to take your bet seriously, you would have got a very, very good return on one race being won from the back of the grid, and the other from a rider starting from pit lane. Just one of those events is highly unusual, having both of the happen on the same day is unheard of.

The odds on Marc Marquez winning from the back of the grid were probably disappointingly short. By now, every bookmaker in the world will have seen the onboard clip of Marc Marquez stalling his bike on the grid at Motegi, and the way he disposed of twenty Moto2 competitors in the space of half a lap.

The first lap at Valencia is likely to create as much of a sensation – or at least it would, if Dorna would either resist the temptation to take down YouTube videos before they go viral to keep their TV rights holders happy, or make the videos available free of charge on the MotoGP.com website so that they can go viral while retaining control – as Marquez passed another twenty riders in the space of five corners.

From onboard, the Motegi and Valencia laps look like a video capture from a computer game. When the footage was shown in the media center, cries of “Playstation!” were heard from around the room. That is almost a fair assessment: the ease with which Marquez makes those passes is impressive, but they are almost worryingly courageous. The Spanish teenager knows neither fear nor doubt, putting his bike exactly where it needs to be at exactly the right time, and predicting (or perhaps guessing) where gaps will open and diving into them before they close.

His awareness of what is going on around him is sensational, though it also displays a certain disregard for what his competitors may choose to do. His style, his aggressiveness, his willingness to gamble and the frequency with which those gambles pay off remind many observers of a young Valentino Rossi, especially as their careers in the sport have so many parallels – a year to learn, and then a title, in each of the support classes. It was a comparison Rossi himself was prepared to make: “I don’t think that the people saying he is the new Rossi are exaggerating,” he told the Italian media.

There has been much made of a perceived unfair advantage in machinery which Marquez is alleged to have, but the ease with which the Spaniard disposed of the competition on a damp track showed that his speed had more to do with his talent and mental ability rather than any skullduggery. Even his critics have been forced to concede that it is Marquez who makes the difference.

One paddock insider who has in the past cast aspersions on the Spaniard’s advantage came up to me over the weekend to admit that he had now changed his mind, and seen that any advantages were all completely legal, and the result of hard work, ingenuity, and a willingness (and ability) to spend the money to figure it all out. The fact that other Moto2 teams are already following Marquez and Monlau Competicion’s lead makes it clear that they were on the right track.

If Marc Marquez’s achievement was impressive, it was matched by that of his soon-to-be teammate, Dani Pedrosa. Following Jorge Lorenzo round on the warm up lap, Pedrosa realized immediately that the dry line that had formed around the track during the Moto2 race was now dry enough for slicks. In the very last corner of the warm up lap, Pedrosa followed his instincts and dived into the pits to swap bikes, getting off of the bike with the wet setup and jumping onto his slick-shod Honda RC213V.

It was a gamble, but one which would pay off handsomely in the end. First, he had to get out of pit lane, though: there may have been a dry line on the track, but pit lane was still cold and damp, too wet to start smoothly with slicks, and Pedrosa just hung on as his bike tried to buck him off once he dropped the clutch.

Once on track, things were much better, but the dry line was very narrow in places, and everyone on slicks faced the same problem. Though they were much quicker than the guys on rain tires, it was very hard to get past without going out onto the wet part of the track, a treacherous place to be. Moving up the order in the early laps was relatively simple, as the riders on wet tires headed into the pits for slicks.

But that put both Jorge Lorenzo, who led the race, and Dani Pedrosa, who was in the process of chasing him down, in a difficult position. They were coming up rapidly on slower riders, and those riders were showing little inclination to move aside. “Only Valentino [Rossi] go outside the line,” Lorenzo told reporters. The others seemed not to be aware of riders coming from behind, despite the blue flags being waved.

This would eventually prove fatal to Lorenzo’s chances of winning the race, though the Spaniard must bear some part of the blame himself. With Pedrosa closing on his tail, Lorenzo started to push on, and after losing 1.5 seconds to Karel Abraham as he struggled to lap the Czech rider, the Yamaha man started to get nervous.

A mistake by Pedrosa – missing a gear and going into neutral – gave him some breathing space, and Lorenzo ran up behind James Ellison very quickly, perhaps more quickly than he expected, especially as he was keen to press home the advantage he had gained from Pedrosa’s mistake.

The resulting highside - one of the most spectacular since Lorenzo’s Shanghai crash in 2008, though thankfully he walked away from this one unhurt – put an end to Lorenzo’s race, and his chances of capping the title with a win. Though Ellison did not move over, the combination of Lorenzo’s impatience and the difference in pace between the two riders meant that Lorenzo found himself trying to pass Ellison at a tricky point in the track.

Lorenzo’s manager Wilco Zeelenberg said afterwards he did not think that Lorenzo had even intended to pass Ellison there, but he had almost been forced into it because he had closed the gap so quickly. “Jorge didn’t really want to do anything there, but he was forced to make a choice. Maybe he underestimated just how fast he was closing on Ellison,” Zeelenberg said.

The team manager did not want to assign blame, however: “I’m not going to point fingers at anyone. It’s a shame Ellison didn’t stay on the right side of the outside of the track, but he didn’t. But nothing has changed since Saturday: we’re still world champions.”

Lorenzo himself felt that more could be done to make slower riders aware of people getting ready to lap them. He had already spoken to Javier Alonso, Dorna’s representative in Race Direction, about the need for a different way of signaling. Lorenzo had suggested dashboard lights, or as in Formula One, large light arrays at the side of the track to signal to the riders.

Alonso had told Lorenzo that this was something they were already looking at, though it was still too early to make any concrete changes to the system. The most important thing, said Lorenzo, was for the series to learn from his crash, to try to avoid it in the future.

The mistake was doubly harsh on the Spaniard, as it had been Lorenzo who had taken the decision to start the race on slicks. His crew chief Ramon Forcada had sent Lorenzo out early, so that he could do two sighting laps if the track was dry enough. Lorenzo had followed Valentino Rossi round on his first sighting lap, and immediately realized that the track was dry enough for slicks. He dived straight back into the pits to swap bikes, to the surprise of his team. The view from pit lane suggested that the track was still far too wet for slicks, and they had to rush to get Lorenzo on the second bike.

The gamble paid off handsomely for both Yamaha riders, as Kats Nakasuga followed Lorenzo’s lead and went out on slicks. But where Lorenzo crashed out, Nakasuga took a podium, his first, the first for a Japanese rider since Shinya Nakano in 2006, and the first of the season for a Japanese rider in any of the three GP classes this season, keeping a streak alive that has been going since 1985.

Lorenzo was delighted for Nakasuga – the Japanese rider himself was in tears, his second child having been born earlier that day – saying that it was just reward for all the hard work Nakasuga had put in in testing and developing the bike.

Lorenzo himself was glad that he had wrapped up the title at Phillip Island, as to have lost the title in this crash at Valencia would have been very hard indeed. But Pedrosa was a little more philosophical. “This is the mistake I have been waiting for all season,” Pedrosa half-joked in the press conference. It had just come a race too late, and that was perhaps why it had happened. “Maybe because the pressure is off it is easier to make mistakes.”

Though Pedrosa’s win has no effect on the championship order, it does make the standings a little more interesting. Dani Pedrosa has now won 7 races to Jorge Lorenzo’s 6, but more importantly, he has won 6 of the last 8 races, and all 7 of his wins have come in the second half of the season. Where Lorenzo controlled the early part of the year, winning when he could, settling for second when he couldn’t, Pedrosa dominated the second half of the year.

With the exception of Brno, the races followed a familiar pattern, Pedrosa stalking Lorenzo for the first half of the race, before pouncing and disappearing into the distance. If Honda ever get the chatter in the RC213V sorted, Lorenzo could be in real trouble in 2013.

Valencia also saw the end of two massive chapters in MotoGP, two stories which are intimately intertwined, though radically different in almost every conceivable way. The end of Casey Stoner’s career in MotoGP and Valentino Rossi’s time at Ducati – both having fitting ends.

With Stoner on the podium and Rossi circulating invisibly in mid-pack, much, much more space and time should be devoted to them than I have right now. Once the dust of the first MotoGP test of the year, which starts on Tuesday, has settled, it will be time to look back.

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. Great article, David. Great article.

    The racing this weekend was spectacular. Danny Kent’s last-minute thrust in front of his teammate to take victory in Moto3 was both fantastically timed and well deserved. A great, measured race from start to finish.

    Marquez was stunning. The term “master class” gets bandied about on a regular basis with certain riders/races, but this follow-up to Marc’s Motegi race, for me, removed any doubt whatsoever as to why he’s going to spice up MotoGP next season. I simply cannot wait.

    As for MotoGP, well, I’m happy for the Spies side of the garage to finally get a podium after such a long time. They deserved some good stuff and Nakasuga delivered the goods. Well done. Also, it was exciting to see Espargaro leading the pack for a time. Love the CRTs or despise them, the ART has proven itself to be as good a bike as the category could seemingly allow, and both RdP and Espargaro have done well. How about Pirro coming in 5th RIGHT BEHIND Bautista?!

    Sad to see the 2012 season come to a close. Sad to see Stoner retire. GLAD to have renewed my motogp.com subscription and begin watching live test coverage in just a few hours. WHEE! Bring on 2013!

  2. neil says:

    Give Kats Nakasuga a ride, we need some fresh blood and less Europeans!