Kevin Schwantz Tests Suzuki XRH-1 MotoGP Bike at COTA, While Randy De Puniet Matches Pace of Open Bikes

Suzuki’s MotoGP test team took advantage of the presence of the MotoGP paddock at Austin to plan a test directly after the Grand Prix of the Americas. Under the watchful eye of team manager Davide Brivio, the team planned to have test rider Randy De Puniet put in three days of testing at a circuit, as the team had not yet tested the Suzuki XRH-1 at COTA, in a bid to gather more data ahead of their return to the series in 2015. Unfortunately for Suzuki, very heavy hail and thunderstorms made testing extremely difficult on Monday, leaving the track very dirty and much slower than it had been for Sunday’s race.

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.

Tuesday Summary at Valencia: Of Debuts, Jealousies, & the Confounded Weather

11/13/2012 @ 7:10 pm, by David Emmett2 COMMENTS

Tuesday Summary at Valencia: Of Debuts, Jealousies, & the Confounded Weather 2012 MotoGP Valencia Test 0089

If there is one subject that is getting mind-numbingly tedious to have to write about in motorcycle racing right now, it’s the weather. Almost every race this year has lost at least one session to difficult conditions, and we had hoped that the 2013 season might start off a little better. No such luck.

After a dry, clear night, the first rain showers arrived shortly before 10am, when the track was due to open for the test. By the time the track opened, enough rain had fallen to make it slick, greasy and extremely difficult to ride. That put an end to almost everyone’s carefully laid plans, leaving large groups of people wandering around and alternating between looking to the skies and carefully examining the track.

A few brave souls ventured out on to the track – including Valentino Rossi, at a few minutes after ten, the earliest he has ever taken to the track during testing since I’ve been following MotoGP, Rossi notoriously ill-disposed to mornings (as, I must admit, am I) – but for the most part, silence prevailed.

This was perhaps toughest on the TV commentators. Because of Rossi’s return to Yamaha, the first couple of hours of the test were streamed live on the MotoGP.com website, as well as broadcasted on both Italian and Spanish TV.

There was virtually nothing to show, though, except images of crowds milling in pit lane, riders wandering around chatting, some in leathers, some not, and endless repeats of slow-motion shots from the few bikes that had turned a lap in the morning, leaving commentators racking their brains for subjects to discuss, leading at one point to a surprisingly long discussion about fruit, and the riders who eat it.

The TV got their money shot, though, Valentino Rossi having gone out early on the rather beautifully turned out Yamaha M1, carefully denuded of Yamaha stickers. Surveying the chaos as photographers and journalists milled around Rossi’s garage, all vying with each other to get the best shot of the Italian on the Yamaha, Jorge Lorenzo commented from the pit wall “mira el campeon,” a phrase which could be translated as “look at the champion,” but which I like to think should be translated as “behold the champion!”

Lorenzo, officially honored as the 2012 MotoGP World Champion, some 36 hours previously, got a glimpse of the media storm that follows Valentino Rossi around. Whatever Rossi does on the track, the mind games in the garage and in the media will be very hard fought indeed.

Whether Rossi will be quick or not is an unknown. The times themselves were rendered meaningless by the track conditions, though Rossi appeared to be lapping at a reasonable pace when he was out with other riders. I went out to the side of the track to get a look at Rossi in person, memories of standing at Turn 11 in November 2010, watching a stranger dressed as Rossi wobble around on the Ducati during his first outing on the bike, and had gone to the same spot on Saturday to see Rossi ride the Ducati again ahead of the test.

Now back on the Yamaha, the Italian looked more comfortable, moving from side to side more smoothly than he ever had on the Ducati. More interesting was watching Rossi over a number of laps, building carefully from slow beginnings, gaining confidence with each lap, throwing the bike into the corner ever more forcefully and being more and more aggressive with the gas.

Maybe that was down to changing conditions, or maybe he was genuinely feeling more confident; without being able to examine the mind of the rider, that is hard to say. The body language in the garage was all smiles – real smiles, not the forced cheerfulness with which Rossi had tried to buoy his spirits while at Ducati – and not just from Rossi, but also from everyone in his team. It has not just been a long two years for Rossi, it has been equally mentally tough on Jerry Burgess and the rest of Rossi’s crew.

Does Valentino Rossi still have it? That is the million dollar question, and one which it is still far too early to answer. Without seeing Rossi on a dry track, and comparing the times he posted, it is almost impossible to say. What is clear is that a weight has been lifted from Rossi’s shoulders, and that his mental state is far more positive than it was on Sunday. What Rossi felt and thought on Tuesday we do not know, as his contract with Ducati expires at midnight on December 31st. Until then, there is silence.

At least we got to see Valentino Rossi lap on the Yamaha. The other eagerly-awaited debut – one of three – was abandoned entirely due to the weather. The assembled media crowded into the Repsol Honda garage to see Marc Marquez sitting on his RC213V – actually, Casey Stoner’s RC213V with a special set of fairings – but we would not see him ride the bike. Honda and his team decided it was too dangerous for the rookie to ride the machine in those conditions, the team deciding to wait until Marquez has a dry track to ride.

In theory, that could be Wednesday at Valencia, but that would only happen if the heavy rain every single weather forecaster has been predicting for the area turns out to be the product of a mass psychosis.

The likely scenario is that Marquez will go home and wait for the private test Honda have scheduled for Sepang at the end of the month, mulling over all the team have told him about the electronics and bike settings in the meantime. That the Spaniard was keen to ride the bike was obvious from his demeanor, Marquez moving around the garage like a hyperactive kid on Christmas morning.

The last of the big-three debuts was Andrea Dovizioso riding the Ducati, and the Italian was remarkably upbeat. He had been expecting a wild beast of an engine, he said, but he had been pleasantly surprised. The bike was much better than he had expected, and he had felt the better traction the Ducati has in the wet, which he had noticed when racing Rossi in the rain earlier in the year.

But whether the bike had any real problems, and where such problems might lie, Dovizioso would not be drawn on. “It is impossible to put the bike on the limit,” he said, and without reaching the limit, it was impossible to understand how it would react. He would wait until Ducati’s private test at Jerez later this month, and hope for dry weather there. One phrase Dovizioso used over and over again when talking to the (Italian) media was “troppo presto”, too soon. On a rainy day at Valencia, there is not much you can learn.

Testing continues on Wednesday, when Bradley Smith is likely to make his debut. If, at least, the rain falls steadily, and does not leave the half-and-half, wet-and-dry conditions which blighted much of the test on Tuesday. Yamaha head north to Aragon in the hope of finding more clement weather, an idle hope indeed if the forecasters are to be believed. We can only hope that the weather gods will finally grow tired of tormenting motorcycle racers, and move on to find another sport to ruin. I suggest tennis.

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. I was watching this live. I actually fell asleep, despite enjoying the banter between Gavin and Azi. Oh, well. Maybe the weather will improve some other test …

  2. J says:

    pure jealousy by Lorenzo, as always…
    Watch Fastest, to bck tht up…