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.

MotoGP: Lap Time Analysis from De Puniet’s Suzuki Test

05/26/2013 @ 1:53 pm, by David Emmett12 COMMENTS

MotoGP: Lap Time Analysis from De Puniets Suzuki Test Suzuki MotoGP Racing Prototype

Randy de Puniet has completed his first two-day test on Suzuki’s MotoGP machine. The Frenchman flew to Japan directly after the French round of MotoGP at Le Mans, to take part in the test organized at Motegi’s Twin Ring circuit, home of the Japanese round of MotoGP, and a circuit owned by Honda.

Under the terms of his testing contract, De Puniet is unable to say anything official, his manager Eric Mahé telling the French magazine Moto Journal only that the test “went well”. Suzuki did not publish any times from the test or provide any other information, but as the MotoGP test teams from both Yamaha and Honda were present, it was inevitable that times would leak out. German-language website Speedweek claims the scoop, with times also to be published in the Spanish magazine Motociclismo, which is out on Tuesday.

According to Speedweek, the test took place in excellent conditions, with temperatures of 28°C and a dry track. The German website reports De Puniet as having posted a time of 1’47.0 on Suzuki’s new inline four MotoGP machine, though no other confirmation of that time has been forthcoming. In comparison, that is as fast as Honda test rider Takumi Takahashi on the day, and half a second quicker than Yamaha test rider Katsuaki Nakasuga.

So how competitive does that make Suzuki’s new MotoGP machine? When we compare it to the times set by MotoGP riders during the race last year, it seems like a solid start. De Puniet is just over 2 seconds off Jorge Lorenzo’s pole time, and 1.4 seconds slower than Dani Pedrosa’s best race lap at the event. De Puniet’s time puts him a little slower than the race pace of the Ducati, Valentino Rossi having posted a lap of 1’46.739 during the race, though he qualified 0.8 seconds faster than that.

Comparing De Puniet’s test time to his own performance at the race on the Aprilia ART machine, he is just under six tenths quicker than his qualifying time, but over two and a half seconds faster than the time he set during the race. De Puniet’s race time is hard to compare: he crashed on the first lap on the Aprilia ART machine, and never fully recovered his pace, retiring after the halfway point. It was much cooler during the race weekend in 2012, of course (air temperature 20°C), meaning that this week’s test took place under much more favorable conditions.

Just how accurate these times are, and how competitive Suzuki’s MotoGP machine will actually be, will become more apparent when the Suzuki receives its first public outing in three week’s time, at the Monday test after the Barcelona round of MotoGP. That test takes place with official timing, and De Puniet will once again be riding the bike there.

Despite the test, Suzuki’s official entry is yet to be confirmed. The Japanese factory had initially asked Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta for entry slots for just a single year. Given Suzuki’s checkered history in recent years – asking for extra engines in the allocation, asking for an exception for the now-defunct rookie rule, cutting back to just a single rider in 2011, despite assurances to the contrary, and then pulling out altogether at the end of 2011 – Ezpeleta is keen to have them sign a three-year contract, to prevent the Japanese factory from withdrawing after just a single year.

Former Valentino Rossi manager Davide Brivio has been contracted to run the team, and is currently putting together a workshop in Italy. As for the riders, Cal Crutchlow remains the hot favorite for one seat, the other looking like going to a young Italian rider. Former Suzuki MotoGP crew chief Tom O’Kane was present at the Motegi tests to function as crew chief, and is widely believed to have been contracted for the role.

The website of the British motorcycling weekly Motorcycle News has a selection of photos of the bike.

Lap Times at Motegi, Official and Unofficial:

Jorge LorenzoYamaha2012 QP1:44.969 -
Dani PedrosaHonda2012 QP1:45.2120.243
Dani PedrosaHonda2012 Race1:45.5890.620
Jorge LorenzoYamaha2012 Race1:45.7270.758
Valentino RossiDucati2012 QP1:45.9761.007
Valentino RossiDucati2012 Race1:46.7391.770
Katsuaki NakasugaYamaha2012 QP1:46.7801.811
Randy de PunietSuzuki2013 Test1:47.0002.031
Takumi TakahashiHonda2013 Test1:47.0002.031
Katsuaki NakasugaYamaha2012 Race1:47.2202.251
Randy de PunietAprilia ART2012 QP1:47.5812.612
Katsuaki NakasugaYamaha2013 Test1:47.5902.621
Wataru YoshikawaYamaha2013 Test1:47.9002.931
Kousuke AkiyoshiHonda2013 Test1:47.9302.961
Randy de PunietAprilia ART2012 Race1:49.6424.673

Race and qualifying times from the 2012 Motegi round of MotoGP taken from the official website. Test times are unofficial, unverified times as published by German website Speedweek.

Source: Motociclismo, SpeedWeek, & MCN; Photo: Cycle World

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


  1. Westward says:

    Seriously, not De Puniet & Crutchlow…

  2. CTK says:

    Westward, do you agree that Crutchlow would be throwing away great momentum going with this unknown? I like Suzuki and want more factory teams but I don’t think they ever had a competitive factory bike in the 4 stroke era. This is only compounded by the fact that Honda has seemed to master the new tire compound, and that the top riders seem to have dropped another second or so off all their lap times since Suzuki was even in the fold. Plus they have financial problems, I think, and don’t really have a huge well of $$$ to draw on like Honda, Yamaha or the newly German-backed Ducati. They will def be swimming upstream on this one. If they can hack it I will be really impressed.

  3. Mr.X says:

    I don’t care of Crutchlow takes to the grid on a 1984 Honda Elite 80 scooter, he deserves a factory paycheck!

  4. Alex MacPherson says:

    —-not competitive—- ’nuff said

  5. Damo says:

    @Alex MacPherson

    Your right Alex, their first real test wasn’t as fast as a world champion’s lap time. They should probably just scrap the whole program….*rolls eyes*

  6. Norm G. says:

    re: “Your right Alex, their first real test wasn’t as fast as a world champion’s lap time. They should probably just scrap the whole program”

    actually alex IS right. we’re in the era of elbow draggin phenoms and million dollar gearboxes. for a company forced to declare bankruptcy, motogp is a bridge too far. but ezpelata’s not impressed with all this testing hype, his 3yr requirement will sober them up.

  7. SquidleyMcSquidson says:

    @Norm G

    Who declared bankruptcy? American Suzuki Motor Corp went under because they weren’t really selling any cars over here. The marine and motorcycle/ATV division did NOT go under, they moved them to a wholly owned subsidiary of Suzuki Motor Corp. They aren’t making cars in Canada anymore, and have shifted their production base to India. How does Suzuki pulling out of the US car market mean the company has failed? A subsidiary failing doesn’t mean the whole company went under. Their brand new facility near Jakarta is doing just fine, and their profits have been on the rise in Asia. I suppose if the Yamaha piano division starts posting losses or if their industrial robotics department goes under then they should give up on all racing. These Japanese companies do a whole lot more than just make motorcycles. Speculation at this stage of development is just ridiculous, but not quite as ridiculous as your line by line quotation and argument strategy of commenting to posts on this website. If I told you in 2007 that BMW was going to make a superbike that would be a title contender in just a few years time, what would you have said? If I told you that MV was going to make a middleweight that would score a podium in it’s first few races, what would you have said? If I told you that Ducati was going to make a bike with no frame and chain driven cams that would already score wins and podiums in STK, or if I said that a moto GP rookie would score multiple podiums with a win an poles in his first season? Have an open mind for f’s sake! We WANT more manufacturers in the series! We WANT more bikes on the grid! We WANT more factory seats for great riders!

  8. Grimey Benson says:

    @Norm G

    Listen to Squidley, he has the right of it.

    You should probably google information before you go off on a tangent, mate.

  9. Keith says:

    I dunno, when you think about it. 2sec off on a first official test? Not too shabby at all…

  10. Ronald Burgandy says:

    I’m thinking the same as Keith. Suzuki doesn’t seem that far off.

    …also, it seems the restructuring of Suzuki not only saved what remains of the company(motorcycles, ATV, marine) but also cleared the way for a healthy future. So, getting back into motoGP would seem to make sense. I see this as great news all the way around.

    I’m wondering where Kawasaki’s at? never too late to rejoin the party.

  11. Faust says:

    I think Kawi is focused completely on SBK right now and it’s paid off by them having the only Japanese bike that can hold it’s own with the Aprilia and BMW. Plus they are doing great in BSB and are well represented in road racing. It’s improved the street product, and kept it at a reasonable price. If Honda would do the same, I’d consider giving them more of my money. But no, these companies want to spend tens of millions on bikes I can’t buy and product they can’t sell me. What have we got from Honda’s gp investment? Unit pro link suspension? Like 10 years ago? Please. Kawi should just keep doing what they are doing, it’s working.

  12. MikeD says:

    I’m just glad to see them here and willing to try, AGAIN. One must crawl, stand and walk before running.

    Blessed those who don’t/didn’t have to go thru the whole “learning” process.