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 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.

Thursday Summary at Sachsenring: Of Rider Changes, Rossi, Pedrosa, & Crutchlow

07/05/2012 @ 8:53 pm, by David Emmett5 COMMENTS

Thursday Summary at Sachsenring: Of Rider Changes, Rossi, Pedrosa, & Crutchlow Cal Crutchlow Yamaha Sachsenring MotoGP

Silly Season has hit full swing in Germany, not just for the MotoGP class but for the support classes as well. And while movements in MotoGP are mainly about what is happening next year, in Moto2 and Moto3 – and even among the CRT machines – there is some serious rider swapping going on for the rest of this season.

In MotoGP, the next two key movements just got a lot closer. Dani Pedrosa is now very close to staying with the Repsol Honda team, telling Spanish journalists that he would sign a new two-year contract with HRC either here in the Sachsenring or at Mugello at the latest. His priority had been to stay on a bike he felt he could win with, telling the Spanish newspaper ABC earlier this week that Honda and Yamaha had been his only realistic options. The Ducati, he said rather pointedly, was more something a rider might consider before their retirement.

With Pedrosa just days away from signing with Repsol Honda, and Marc Marquez almost certain to be placed alongside him, options are starting to close up for those still seeking a seat. But Pedrosa’s signing would make no difference to Valentino Rossi, the former World Champion told the Italian media. “I never had any contact with HRC, so going there was never a possibility for me,” Rossi said, despite rumors in the English-language media that placed the Italian in the Repsol team.

The probability of Rossi staying at Ducati seems to have increased with Pedrosa’s signing at Repsol. The Italian’s options are limited: a satellite Honda at Gresini is a possibility, but given HRC’s reluctance in the past to allow a satellite bike to beat their factory Repsol team – mainly because of the trouble that would cause for their agreement with Repsol, who pay an eight-figure sum to back the factory Honda team – that would make it difficult for Rossi to get back to winning again, the aim he has continually stated throughout all contract talks.

The factory Yamaha team is certainly a possibility, the rumors increased by the deafening silence emanating from within Yamaha itself. Jorge Lorenzo has already said that he would have no problem with Rossi alongside him, and the Spaniard probably relishes the chance of trying to beat the Italian again on equal machinery, and without the debate over Rossi’s shoulder injury which caused many Rossi fans to question Lorenzo’s title in 2010.

But Ducati now looks the most likely option for Rossi in 2013, in the hope of turning the Ducati around finally. Rossi told the press that he had had talks with Ducati Corse boss Filippo Preziosi in the week after Assen, after Rossi had criticized Ducati for not having a clear enough plan for development. “I spoke more deeply [with Preziosi] and we have some ideas,” Rossi said. Updates would be coming on both the engine and chassis side, Rossi told the press.

The new engine – team boss Vitto Guareschi was keen to avoid calling it a new engine, preferring the phrase “rideability improvement package” – should be ready for the Mugello test, after undergoing reliability testing at Mugello and on the dyno, but it will be close. The last part should complete testing next Friday night, Guareschi told me, and be ready just in time for the test the following Monday.

That engine will be important, but there is also a change to the rest of the bike, though Rossi was keen to point out that it was not a revised frame. “It is not a chassis modification, we have some part of the bike with a different shape and a different weight distribution,” Rossi said. “This is the first step, also to understand the way to follow next year, if it’s the right way to improve the bad feeling that we have.” Rossi was at least happy that things were heading the right way again. Asked if he was comfortable with the changes being made, the Italian affirmed that he was. “I am more comfortable now. I think the situation is quite easy, I’m never fast enough with this bike, so we have try to fix this and improve our performance.”

The Mugello test and the Laguna Seca weekend, where the parts tried at the Mugello test will get their first run out in a race, are crucial to Rossi’s decision about the future, but they will come a little too late for Cal Crutchlow. The Englishman has been told by Ducati that he has to give them an answer by Mugello, according to MCN’s Matt Birt, and so Crutchlow cannot wait for Rossi to make his decision, likely to come some time during the summer break, and to be announced around the time of the Brno round of MotoGP.

Crutchlow’s gamble is simple: he either has to hope that Ducati will show enough progress for him to be competitive – perhaps aided by the resources of Audi, which should start to flow into the company some time next year – or else hope that Rossi stays at Ducati and he gets the call for the factory Yamaha ride. It is a tough choice to make.

At the other end of the grid, changes are likely to start happening in the next couple of races. According to, the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team looks set to drop the Suter BMW project and switch to another chassis, either the FTR Honda machine, which has proven to be very competitive among the CRT bikes in the hands of rookie Michele Pirro, and has already seen several chassis iterations, or else an Aprilia ART machine.

Given the price differential – the FTR Honda is probably less than half the price of the Aprilia, and as Pirro has demonstrated, probably as good – the FTR Honda seems the safer bet, Forward having already shelled out to Suter for the project. As Forward recently dropped their Suter Moto2 chassis in favor of FTRs, a switch to an FTR chassis for the MotoGP team seems more likely.

But Forward could perhaps recoup some of their money by passing the Suter bike on – the entire point of the CRT regulations. Danilo Petrucci, of the Came IODA team, is set to test the Suter bike at the Monday test after Mugello, after the IODA bike has yet to prove competitive. The money that IODA would pay for the Suter could allow Forward to cover some of the extra that the Aprilia ART would cost.

The problem that the Suter BMW has – and also, to some extent, the FTR Honda has – is electronics. With just one team developing the electronics, progress is painfully slow.Carmelo Ezpeleta’s recent revelation that Dorna was working with Magneti Marelli to introduce a standard ECU for the CRT machines could solve many of these problems.

Changes at Forward could also come in the Moto2 team, where Yuki Takahashi’s situation is under threat. The Japanese rider has not performed well this season, and has been comprehensively outperformed by teammate Alex de Angelis. Takahashi is not the only rider out in Moto2: Mike Di Meglio has already lost his seat the Speed Master Moto2 team, due to financial problems. His place will be taken by the Italian Alessandro Andreozzi, who raced last year at Misano on an FTR. Meanwhile, German rider Markus Reitenberger has been drafted in to replace the injured Swede Alex Lundh, though the replacement could become permanent, with Martin Wimmer’s MZ-RE team under pressure to score points.

Changes could also come to the BQR team, in both Moto2 and MotoGP. Julian Simon, currently riding a Suter machine in Moto2, could move up to the Avintia BQR MotoGP team, to replace Ivan Silva. Silva has consistently been the last rider on the grid, and has been outperformed by his teammate Yonny Hernandez, the Colombian rider being one of the most exciting riders in MotoGP this season. But Silva has been caught between developing the Inmotec chassis and racing the FTR chassis, and is perhaps getting lost in the confusion.

It’s a confusing time in the paddock right now, not just for the question of MotoGP for next season, but also for what will be happening right now. With sponsorship a continuing problem, and competition in the 32-strong Moto2 and Moto3 fields extremely strong, rider lineups will continue to fluctuate from race to race. It should all have sorted itself out soon enough. Well, by Valencia, at the latest…

Photo: Monster Tech 3 Yamaha

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


  1. Ben says:

    It would be amusing to watch cal beat team mate rossi. But I would far prefer to see him on a Honda or take Spies ride.

    Feel bad for nicky. So loyal, sells a truckload of ducati in the u.s., now seeing the true, two faced nature of ducati. They can’t kick him out for results based on what a piece of crap their bike has been.

    Preziosi has killed ducati with his short sighted design vision. Preziosi must go.

  2. JoeKing says:

    But..but..he’s a genius

    Rather funny that just a few years ago Preziosi was always referred to as “Ducati’s design genius” for what..I can’t figure.

    Ever since the beginning of Ducati entering MotoGP the bike hasn’t been a balanced package that mere mortals could ride yet he was always the “genius”.

    I always thought a genius was someone who could create something better than anyone else…I guess Italians think stubborness is the true indicator of Dr. T with 2-valve desmos & Preziosi & the 90º V.

    Must be a cultural thing.

  3. MikeD says:

    Will i still be alive by the time Ducati gets it’s Shit together ? And Rossi for that matter, too.

    I think Ducati has a better chance buying off the OLD Aprilia RS3 Cube Project, try to tame it and make it work for them…lol.

    @JoeKing: I think u nailed it with the cultural thing

    I feel sorry for Hayden…maybe is for the best…maybe he’ll be soon in WSBK riding a new fangled 1199 ? !

    OR that new Suzuki that has been shown running around Japan ?

    Im going to miss Stoner too…the only dude that knew how to properly man-handle a Desmosedici. lol.

    And CRT bikes still doing what they do best…being a JOKE when trying to race with Pure Blood Prototypes…one day…one day…………………………………..

  4. Calisdad says:

    Hey Ducati- next test put on a bigger back wheel. It will improve front end feel, be easier on rear tires and even give you a little more on the top end.

    If they don’t let you use it take your unrideable bike and go home. Then MGP will be a 2 horse race in a coma pleading with you, BMW, Aprilla, Suzuki and Kawasaki to get back in the game. By then Nicky will have won the WSBK title and be ready to for a Schwantz led Suzuki team.

    BTW- Nick treats his dog better than you treat him. He’s sold a boat load of bikes for you.

  5. WetMan says:

    Honda going all Spanish is a very bad call politically. Already at Assen people were grumbling about all the Spanish riders with their Spanish bank sponsors. Spanish banks we in the North are propping up. It’s jealousy sure, but mood is very important in bike sales. Honda would do well not being too much of a target in this increasing feeling of lack of financial fairplay by Spanish sports men and teams.