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.

Q&A with Peter Clifford Interview: Red Bull Rookies in Moto3, The European Junior Cup, & Female Riders

06/12/2013 @ 3:03 pm, by David EmmettComments Off

Q&A with Peter Clifford Interview: Red Bull Rookies in Moto3, The European Junior Cup, & Female Riders red bull rookies cup scott jones 635x793

That the Red Bull Rookies Cup has been a huge success goes without saying. Former rookies now fill the front of the Moto3 grid, and are starting to make an impact in Moto2. The goal of the Red Bull Rookies Cup, of bringing young riders from around the world into Grand Prix racing, has clearly been met.

So successful has it been that two years ago, the World Superbike series set up a similar project. After a modest first year, the European Junior Cup is thriving in its second year, and providing some fantastic racing for talented young riders.

At Jerez earlier this year, we had the opportunity to talk to Red Bull Rookies Cup supervisor Peter Clifford about the series he is involved in, as well has the European Junior Cup. He gave us his view of the rival series, but also on a range of other subjects.

The interview covered the difference between four-strokes and two-strokes, the range of nationalities participating in the Rookies Cup, the complementary role of the European Junior Cup, and the approach the Rookies Cup is taking towards female riders in the series. As always, Clifford provides plenty of food for thought.

A&R: There has been a major change to the Red Bull Rookies Cup this year, with the switch from the 125cc KTM two strokes to the four stroke KTM RC250R. How has the series changed this year?

Peter Clifford: The new bikes that’s the huge difference. We’ve had the usual influx of riders, we keep roughly half from the previous year, and add about half new guys. And of course, this year it makes it an even more level playing field for everybody, because they’ve all got new motorcycles. They’ve done four days of pre-season testing, everybody got the same treatment, obviously, and then went to Austin for the first races on the new bikes. It’s been really good.

A&R: How are they adapting to the new bikes? I remember talking to Livio Loi and he was saying that he grew up racing four-strokes, and it seems that most young riders grow up riding four strokes nowadays?

PC: More and more so, but I think there’s also still quite a lot of the Spaniards and Italians who come from the PreGP series which are on two-strokes, so some people had never ridden a four -stroke before they came here for the test. And as you say, others have grown up with them. And I think that even if you’ve grown up racing a four-stroke, these four-strokes are GP four-strokes, so there’s still a good deal to learn.

A&R: There’s a big difference some of the cheaper four-strokes and these…

PC: … Which may have been developed from road bikes and are fairly soft motorcycles, relatively speaking. This is a true GP bike, it’s the very close brother to the bike that Luis Salom won the first GP of the year on, so it doesn’t get any closer than that. And that was done by KTM as much as anything because it was harder to make something different than it was just to use more of the same. And of course we’re very happy because we want the thing to be a GP bike.

A&R: This is true training for the next level?

PC: Indeed. I think that the guys who came off last year’s two strokes almost to a man have said that this is easier to ride in that it’s got more torque, so if you make a little bit of a mistake getting into the corner, it will pull you out. Whereas if you made a mistake on last year’s bike, it kind of died on you like a typical GP two stroke. But then these ones have got more torque.

A&R: It’s good to see young riders you are starting to see from of the former rookies really move through the ranks ….

PC: Again, Luis Salom is a perfect example, he came out of the Rookies Cup. And now in Moto2, you’ve got Danny Kent and Johann Zarco, and there must be eight or ten Rookies in the Moto3 class here, and now Livio’s the latest guy to join in. Of course, you know people like Brad Binder doing very very well in qualifying here [Jerez], and then the more obvious ones like Arthur Sissis in the factory team, so yes, a whole load of them.

A&R: Has it been important to have non-Spanish riders, because there’s always this talk about Spanish domination of MotoGP and this is a huge threat to the series?

PC: It has been, but we absolutely don’t exclude Spanish or Italian riders from the Rookies Cup. We’ve got a good sprinkling of Spaniards and Italians, but it is great for the sport to see a wide range of guys. We have them as you know from all over the world, from South Africa, from Japan, Australia, America, and all over Europe.

A&R: World Superbikes is now running the European Junior Cup, aimed at young riders, and racing Honda’s CBR500R race replica. Do you see that as competition or do you see it as complementary?

PC: Well, I guess there’s an element of competition, we’d like to think there’s an element of competition, as we love competition in racing. But in general, I think it’s complementary, and it’s great to see them using bigger bikes than we do, and having a much more open age range than we do.

Because I feel genuinely very sorry for chaps who want to be in the rookies cup, or whatever, and for whatever reason, their physical size or age means they can’t do it, and it’s fantastic that there’s an alternative, a very good alternative and a wonderful series.

A prime example is a good friend of mine Jake Lewis, a Kiwi. He applied to the Red Bull Rookies Cup, but being a good sort of Kiwi lad, he’s a bit big and he struggled when he could test on the Metrakit, just because of the physical size of the motorcycle, and he would have struggled on a GP bike, a GP 125 or a Moto3 bike.

And yet he’s gone into the EJC and he rides a 600 at home in New Zealand and it’s exactly the series that he needs. A fantastic rider, wonderful rider, just not suited to the Rookies Cup, and there are other guys like him, you know. You just feel so sorry when there wasn’t an alternative, and now there is, it’s really great.

A&R: It’s helping to actually grow the sport rather than just focus it on one series?

PC: Yes, absolutely. And that’s what we need, we need the sport to grow, and we need the opportunities for riders of all sizes and all ages to go as far as they can, so it’s fantastic to see it, and it’s a great series.

A&R: Do you think now that Dorna has taken over WSBK there might be a little bit more coordination between the two series, or has there been no talk of that so far?

PC: There’s been no talk whatsoever, and I think there probably won’t be any, as ours is a very specific series. It has a very specific course, it is the stepping stone into Grand Prix racing, and firstly into Moto3, and Moto2 and MotoGP, and it is very specific. They have a different mandate in getting kids into World Superbike, and that’s great.

A&R: Do you think that it might be good to work together to be able to split riders by physical size, equally talented riders, such as Jake Lewis?

PC: I think it probably sorts itself out, it doesn’t necessarily need any planning or anything, but it’s great that the kids can apply to both or whatever, they’ve got the freedom to suit them and their budget and everything else.

A&R: A quick question about female riders: you’ve got a Japanese girl riding, Yui Watanabe. How’s she coming along?

PC: Unfortunately, she fell off at Austin, and though she didn’t seriously hurt herself, she has got a broken bone in her hand which is preventing her from riding here in Jerez, but she’ll be back in Assen. She’s good, she improved tremendously through last year, from the beginning of the year to the end, and hopefully she’ll continue to improve this year.

It would be great to see more girls. We have a very open mind, of course we’d love to see more of everybody in the class, including more girls, naturally. But there’s no point in us just inviting girls who don’t pass the selection criteria. It wouldn’t be good for them or for anybody else, you can’t hide it when they all get out on the track on equal machinery.

And at last year’s selection, I think we had three girls, but we didn’t find one. We had 110 riders, so it’s not surprising, and we only selected I think 13 out of that 110 last year. So it’s only one in 10, and with three girls, not surprisingly, just numbers-wise we didn’t find one that fitted the bill.

Photo: © 2013 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.

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