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.

Wednesday Summary at Valencia: Of a Last Chance to See

11/08/2012 @ 12:29 am, by David Emmett6 COMMENTS

Wednesday Summary at Valencia: Of a Last Chance to See Nicky Hayden Phillip Island MotoGP Scott Jones

In an ideal world, championships are settled in a straight fight between the main contenders in the final race of the season. Unfortunately, the world we live in is far from ideal – as the ever-dwindling stock of prototype machines on the grid testifies – and so the last race of the year can be a bit of a formality. In 2012, with the champions in all three classes securing their titles during the flyaways, there is not much more at stake at Valencia. Except pride.

Given that pride is what motivates a motorcycle racer above all else, that means that there is every reason to hope for a real treat at Valencia on Sunday. This is the last race of the season, the last chance to prove your worth, to silence your doubters, to settle those scores before the long winter begins.

No need to be conservative here, no need to calculate the odds. You can take that chance, take a risk and crash out trying. At the last race of the season, you go all in, as Nicky Hayden’s leathers proclaimed at Valencia in 2006, when it looked like he might miss out on his first ever MotoGP title. And there is a lot of pride at stake.

Jorge Lorenzo wrapped up the MotoGP title by finishing second at Phillip Island, but he has not won a race since Misano. What is worse, he has not won a race in which both Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner finished since Mugello, nine races ago back in July. Lorenzo’s championship has been near perfect, six wins, ten second places, his only failure a DNF caused when Alvaro Bautista took him out at Assen.

There would be no shame in another second-place finish, nor even much shame in a third, but a win in Valencia would be the crowning achievement of his season. His seventh victory would put him ahead of both Pedrosa (six) and Stoner (five) in wins this season, an important statistic going into 2013.

But Lorenzo faces an unleashed Dani Pedrosa, the Repsol Honda man having his best ever season in MotoGP. Pedrosa has finally had a season without major injury, and it has shown in his results. Pedrosa has won five of the last seven races, falling short only twice.

Once through no fault of his own, demoted to the back of the grid at Misano due to a foul up by his team, and another time at Phillip Island, when in his eagerness to put some space between himself and Lorenzo, he got into the Honda Hairpin too deep, and lost the front over a piece of poor quality tarmac.

A win at Valencia – a track he does exceedingly well at – would put him ahead of Lorenzo in the number of wins, and make him the moral victor in the 2012 championship. It will also serve to intimidate Lorenzo ahead of 2013, providing a useful psychological advantage going into the winter.

And then there is Casey Stoner. Despite an ankle injury that still leaves him limping, the Australian made good on his promise to win at Phillip Island two weeks ago. When tracks go left, Stoner can rest up his ankle, meaning he is not slowed by the injury. In his very last race, Stoner will want to go out on a high, making the point as graphically as possible that he is leaving the series because HE is unhappy with IT, not the other way around.

Valencia, though, is a tougher proposition than Phillip Island. In Australia, there were few spots which required really hard braking, so Stoner was not forced to compensate for his ankle very much. At Valencia, that is not the case, with there being a number of places round the circuit where Stoner will be forced to bear more weight on his arms, draining him of energy.

In pure number terms, a Stoner win would leave all three top men with six wins a piece, a fairly accurate reflection of just how finely balanced the 2012 MotoGP season has been throughout.

The fact that this is Casey Stoner’s very last MotoGP race is reason enough to watch Valencia, though, whatever the outcome. Though the circuit may be, in the words of Stoner’s arch enemy Valentino Rossi, ‘a Mickey Mouse track’ it still has a couple of spots worth savoring.

Watching the Australian drift down the endless left-hander of Turn 14, up and over the crest and down towards the tight final turn, is one of the most visceral and jaw-dropping sights a race fan can see. That sight alone is worth the entrance fee.

Valencia also marks another final appearance, though this one is cause for great joy, rather than great sadness. The marriage of Ducati to Valentino Rossi turned out to be a tale of star-crossed lovers, rather than matrimonial bliss and glory, and Valencia sees the final chapter in their fruitless alliance.

Ducati failed to turn the bike into something which Rossi could ride, Rossi failed to adapt his style – and perhaps more significantly, his mindset – to the Desmosedici, and crew chief Jeremy Burgess’ bag of tricks, which served him so very faithfully at both Honda and Yamaha, turned out to be worthless with the Ducati.

Nobody comes out of this affair smelling of anything but the dank reek of failure, and it is fitting that the alliance should come to an end at Valencia, a circuit at which Rossi has had little good fortune. Last season, his race lasted just a few hundred meters, the Italian finding himself taken out in the first corner by a chain reaction triggered by a coming together of Andrea Dovizioso and Alvaro Bautista.

On Tuesday, a new chapter begins, between two ex-lovers between whom the old flame never really went out. Whenever Valentino Rossi has referred to the Desmosedici over the past two seasons, he has always spoke of “the Ducati”. From Tuesday, he can go back to calling his bike “my M1″.

Ironically, the Valencia circuit may be the best it has ever been for the Ducatis in 2012. The track has been resurfaced, and both Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi have suffered most on bumpy tracks, the bumps unsettling the Ducati and making it difficult to both steer and get out of corners. Nice, smooth, freshly laid tarmac could be just what The Doctor ordered. A win is an impossibility, barring a downpour, but just being in sight of the leading group would count as progress for Ducati.

There is one title that remains to be settled at Valencia: that of the best CRT. Aspar teammates Aleix Espargaro and Randy De Puniet have battled over the spot as best CRT finisher all season long, even getting close to the factory prototypes by the end of the year.

Espargaro currently leads De Puniet by eleven points, which should be good enough to clinch the spot as best CRT finisher. To prevent him, De Puniet would have to finish 5th while Esparagaro crashes out. Given that the best result of any CRT machine this season has been 8th, moving up among the really fast guys looks beyond the realms of the possible.

So there are many reasons to watch the races at Valencia, even though no titles are at stake. This is the last time to see the sublime beauty of Casey Stoner on a MotoGP bike; the last time to see the horror show that has been Valentino Rossi on the Ducati; the last chance to see Marc Marquez work his magic in Moto2 – the Spaniard will be moving up to MotoGP in 2013, where his speed or lack of it will reveal exactly how much of his current success was deserved, and how much down to alleged shenanigans by his crew.

The last time to see Marquez go head-to-head with Pol Espargaro, which has provided one of the greatest junior class rivalries since Dani Pedrosa fought Casey Stoner back in 2005, or Loris Capirossi did battle with teammate Tetsuya Harada in 1998. Time may pass and memories fade, but there will be much to cherish come Sunday.

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. ALVIN says:

    For me that most interesting at Valencia is not the race weekend anymore but the testing a day after the race day because of Valentino & team moving back to Yamaha, Marquez to Repsol Honda Team, Dovi to Ducati, Spies to Ducati, Andrea Iannone to Ducati.

    Hope more fight on the front next year.

  2. brian says:

    stoner’s last race will be interesting for sure but the test…bring it!

  3. TexusTim says:

    I wonder what rossi was hinting at in the pre race press interview today ?..when asked about the following monday and tuesday test he said, “there will also be some interesting movment” I dont think he means the bike underneath him…lol

  4. MikeD says:

    I got my LA-Z Chair , Poppy Corn and Beverages ready. BRING IT.

  5. No kidding, Mike. I’m looking very, very much forward to staying tuned to motogp.com over the weekend. Beverages at the ready!

  6. Bob says:

    Of…Of…Of