Thursday Summary at Laguna Seca: Silly Season Reopened, & Edwards Entertains

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.

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.

Thursday Summary at Laguna Seca: Silly Season Reopened, & Edwards Entertains

07/27/2012 @ 11:33 am, by David Emmett7 COMMENTS

Thursday Summary at Laguna Seca: Silly Season Reopened, & Edwards Entertains Jorge Lorenzo MotoGP 635x423

As a MotoGP rider, dealing with the press can be a lot like boxing against a stronger opponent: put in a quick attack, and then grab on and defend for dear life. At Laguna Seca, Ben Spies showed he had mastered the art perfectly. After dropping the bombshell that he would be leaving Yamaha on Tuesday — on Thursday Spies was in full defensive mode, deflecting questions and saying that he would not be discussing the situation and what had motivated his decision “until I’m ready to talk about the future.” To carry that off, and persist in your position in a room full of journalists hell-bent on wheedling the truth out of you, is quite an achievement.

Fortunately for Spies, his announcement had given the assembled media hordes – well, not quite a horde, as dwindling print sales, economic stagnation in the key markets of Spain and Italy, and a few broader issues with journalists traveling on tourist visas meant that press corps numbers at Laguna are down – had plenty of other issues to sink their teeth into. Spies leaving Yamaha opens up another seat, and with the Texan looking almost certain to switch back to the World Superbike series with the BMW Italia squad next season, an extra factory prototype, something of increasing scarcity in these days of dwindling factory involvement.

Naturally, with Spies out of the equation, the media and fans have joined in an epic game of fill-in-the-blanks to try and slot all the surplus of talented riders into the limited space for available rides.

Prime candidate to take Spies’ ride is, unsurprisingly, one Valentino Rossi. With Spies out of Yamaha, his seat in the factory team is now officially open for a return by Valentino Rossi. Yamaha’s prodigal son admitted on Thursday that he had “other options” alongside remaining at Ducati, but he also made it clear that he had not yet made up his mind what he was going to do. A decision would come only during the summer break – the period between Laguna Seca and Indianapolis – Rossi said, and he would spend his holiday time weighing up his options. “There are pluses and minuses which have to be weighed up,” Rossi told the Italian press.

A return to Yamaha would be a guarantee of having a competitive bike in the short term, but he would face “the rider currently in the best shape” Jorge Lorenzo. It would be a difficult decision, for it hangs on Rossi’s final years in MotoGP. The fact that Audi want to keep Rossi at Ducati was “an honor” and the Italian was seriously considering the offer he had from the Italian factory. If it was just a question of money, he said, the decision would have been made a long time ago.

But before he would sign with Ducati again, “there are still a few technical details to clear up,” Rossi said. The Italian was careful to heap praise on Ducati Corse head Filippo Preziosi, and denied that the factory had had any contact with Masao Furusawa, former head of Yamaha’s MotoGP program. “I never spoke directly with him, and everyone at Ducati says the news is not true,” Rossi told the Italian press.

Rossi will have some updates at Laguna, but not as much as he had hoped for. The setback at the Mugello test, where a “component failure” had caused Rossi to crash and prevented him from testing all of the new rideability package he had hoped to use at Laguna. There will be some updates available – Nicky Hayden spoke of some parts for the throttle bodies, hinting at some modifications to the butterfly valves and some electronics to manage them.

But there is still a large part of the rideability package to come, and the negative aspect for Rossi is that the parts are simply not ready yet. In an earlier interview with GPOne.com, Jeremy Burgess had said that part of keeping Rossi happy was giving him the impression that things were moving along. Having new parts to test each weekend would help keep Rossi motivated, Burgess said.

While Rossi’s future is uncertain, that of Nicky Hayden looks very close to being settled. Hayden told reporters at Laguna that negotiations with Ducati had been moving briskly since Mugello. Sources inside Ducati suggest that the deal is likely to be concluded and announced this weekend, though they remain tight-lipped on the record. The contract looks to be for a single-year, and the news that Hayden will be back at Ducati is being picked over for significance by everyone inside the paddock. Does selecting Hayden to stay mean that Ducati has moved to ensure at least one stable factor for 2013, expecting Rossi to move to Yamaha? Or is Hayden’s contract a sop to keep Rossi at Ducati, giving the Italian a reliable partner to test the Desmosedici with and help him develop the bike?

That uncertainty is playing into the Yamaha camp’s hand as well. With Spies gone and Rossi yet to make his mind up, the Tech 3 Yamaha riders are waiting to hear where they will end up. Cal Crutchlow has an offer from Ducati, but it now appears that will only be valid if a seat is vacated at the factory by Rossi. Andrea Doviziosi, meanwhile, has offers from Gresini and from Ducati, as well as options in World Superbikes, but is bitterly disappointed that Yamaha are waiting to hear what Rossi does before giving Dovizioso the call.

“On a satellite Yamaha M1,” he told the Italian media, “I am scoring results which nobody expected, but this is not enough.” Like Dovizioso, Crutchlow wants to be on a factory bike, regarding that as the only way to be in with a chance of a title. “With a satellite Yamaha you can be 5th or 6th, score a few podiums, and if you are very, very lucky, maybe get a win,” Crutchlow said.

What is certain is that Bradley Smith will be moving up to MotoGP. Tech 3 team boss Herve Poncharal confirmed to French journalist Michel Turco that Smith would indeed be on one of the team’s two Yamaha M1s in 2013, though the second rider is still to be named. Experience could be key here, and while Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso could fulfill that role if they stay, Poncharal is exploring other options as well.

Randy de Puniet is one option – Poncharal could end up with two Frenchmen in his team, as current Moto3 rider Louis Rossi is also being linked to Tech 3 to race in the Moto2 team – while the other is Nicky Hayden, should the American’s Ducati deal fall through. The name of Hayden is a surprise, as Poncharal was not excited by the prospect when I spoke to him about it a few races ago.

The good news for race fans is that Colin Edwards will be back in MotoGP next season. The Texan revealed that he has a two-year deal with Forward, but the real reason the fans will be glad to see him was the way that he made his announcement. When asked about the Suter he is currently riding, he called it “a piece of shit”, explaining that his bike, like all the CRTs as far as he could see, was a very long way from being competitive.

Where at a race weekend, they should be working on the fine details of setup, in actual fact they were still trying to figure the big picture out, he said. “We had our ass smacked and our balls tickled, but some of the things that were promised, it just hasn’t happened,” the Texan said colorfully. He should have an Aprilia from Indianapolis, which is not enough to race with the prototypes, but it was at least the best CRT bike, he said.

Edwards was ambivalent about the idea of CRTs, seeing the point of the rule, but saying that at the pace the bikes are currently going, it simply made no sense. “It’s just kind of a bullshit rule,” Edwards said. “How do you expect to fly around the world and compete when you know you can’t win? It’s been hard to stay motivated when you know you can maybe get 12th, maybe get 10th. But the formula’s just not right yet, the CRT thing is a good idea – or a one-brand bike, or whatever that rule is – but right now when you have a bunch of prototypes out on track, it’s more dangerous than anything. I feel like I’m spending more time looking behind me, trying not go get out of these guy’s way.”

The solution was easy, according to Edwards. “The bikes all these guys are riding this year? Make them available for satellite teams next year. That way you get 24 bikes on the grid, let’s go racing,” Edwards said. A brilliant idea that Dorna, the FIM and IRTA have pushed for repeatedly, only to be rebuffed by the factories. They would rather send the old bikes to the crusher than have them on the grid.

Edwards’ frank and entertaining replies prompted a question from Ben Spies when the floor was opened to questions: “You must have a really good press officer, don’t you?” Spies joked. Edwards then went on to prove exactly why he is such a special part of MotoGP, disregarding protocol to get his son up onto the stage, taking pictures with his son halfway through the press conference, before allowing it to continue. Edwards then cracked some jokes about the silly season speculation: “Valentino’s going back to Yamaha, Ben’s going to race the Tour de France and Casey and me are going hunting” quipped the Texan.

With so many riders brought up to respond exactly as their PR managers demand, Edwards is a breath of fresh air. He generates a lot more interest for his team than his results command, and he is a massive favorite with the fans. The sponsors probably hate it, but the truth is, they get more bang for their buck from a witty loudmouth like Edwards than they do from the average, polite racer that populates most grids in most series nowadays. MotoGP needs characters like Edwards.

Photo: Yamaha Racing

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

Comment:

  1. Val says:

    I fucking hate or-hay.

  2. Ken says:

    I love how dovi thinks hes entitled to it becuase he is having a good year. Spies was running almost as good with no previous motogp experience as a rookie.

  3. “MotoGP needs characters like Edwards.”

    Amen to that.

  4. jack says:

    Rossi to Yamaha? Who is going to be the #1 rider and who is #2? Yamaha does not want their riders to compete with each other and sacrifice points to the top Honda rider, ask Ben Spies. Jorge is Yamaha’s main man and I don’t see Rossi as #2. That is why Rossi will be staying at Ducati. A honda satilite team will never be competitive on a consistant basis to ever win a title.

  5. paulus says:

    Who gives a sh*t.
    The pieces will fall where they may… It will be what it will be.
    After much haggling and scrambling, ultimately everybody is in it for themselves.
    The riders will be riding whatever the outcome may be… and saying good things about them for the first half of the season. Still nice things if they are doing well… and assigning blame if they are not. Then it will play out again next year.

    As long as we keep on buying the bikes, the sponsors T-shirts/caps/soft drinks (oh, and smidgeon of bike stuff) and pay our satellite/cable TV fees… it will roll on eternal.

    Just sit back, arm chair critque it and enjoy it.

  6. Mike Evans says:

    @MissBethAndrews Says in this article Herve told French Journalist Michel Turco one of the bike's is for Smith http://t.co/f8Lr2rFN

  7. Mike Evans says:

    @Abbey_2199 yes acording to this http://t.co/f8Lr2rFN